The last four weeks have absolutely flown by.
It seems like we just landed here in Haiti and to think that we only have one week left is hard to comprehend. Our time here has been wonderful. Challenging, but wonderful. To be able to spend time with our dear friends, Jared and Jalayne, and to get to know their girls here at the orphanage has been such a blessing!
Our brother-in-law Antonio calls these blessings, “Kingdom Currency.” He explained it as things that you cannot buy with money and blessings that God provides that were not expected. Our time here in Haiti fellowshipping with friends while meeting with Back2Back and doing research on a ministry here has been one of those “Kingdom Currency” blessings, and we are so thankful for it!
Growth as a person is something that we often long for. I am not speaking of getting an education, or getting a new job, or attaining that promotion, or finding that perfect someone to marry. While we see these things as things to strive for, they are no more than goals that we accomplish. What I am talking about is much deeper than accomplishments, it is growth as a human being, the maturation of the soul.
We can read books and watch documentaries and discuss situations and world issues 24/7 and grow in knowledge, grow in our ability to argue issues effectively, but this does not grow us spiritually. Without spiritual growth as a person, we starve the very core of who we were created to be. But the reason we often lack spiritual growth is because we know the cost and choose not to pay it.
“The things we try to avoid and fight against – tribulation, suffering, and persecution – are the very things that produce abundant joy in us.” We “don’t know the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it.”
– Oswald Chambers
The cost of growing spiritually, of growing closer to the savior that we worship for an hour on Sunday’s, is high. Very high. Trial, tribulation, hardship, despair, persecution. These are not things that we hunger for naturally. These are things that we pray we will not experience. These are torturous examples of things that we have buffered ourselves from and avoid at all costs. And, yet, these painful experiences are what draw us to lean on the only one we can depend on. They are what teach us that through all of life’s valleys and disasters, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
So we know that it is through persecution and suffering that He has called us to grow in Him. We also know that even as we go through these things, we are able to persevere “because He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). So then why do we continue to value our own comfort above growing?
Is it crazy to desire suffering? Is it Christlike to desire a safe, comfortable, happy life? Is it Biblical? Are we called to live happily and comfortably, avoiding hardship as best we can while throwing in our once a week worship service to the One we claim to live for?
I struggle with these things just like everyone else. Asking questions that make us think about these issues is easy. But taking a look at our own lives and changing things is much more difficult. Most likely, these words are read and you think “hmmmm good questions…” and then you go to the next email in your inbox or the next website or article you wanted to look at and your day continues. That is what I used to do, and still do to this day sometimes. We are all called to different things in this life. My sufferings and hardships will not be the same as yours, nor should they. Our trials are what prepare us specifically for that which we are called to do in the Kingdom of God. So let me simply ask you what God asked me:
What obstacles are in your life that are hindering Me from molding you into who I designed you to be? What luxuries and comforts are you trading for a true relationship with Me? What sacrifices are you not willing to make because you value those things over growing with Me?
Ask yourself these questions and pray about them. Prepare to be convicted if you do though, because He will show you things and you will change. And when you do change, you will grow. And when you look back and see the pain, and the growth that you just came through, and see where He has brought you, you will long for more, you will begin to know that desire for suffering.
What I have observed here in Haiti over the last few weeks is the joy and happiness of people who suffer daily. When forced through circumstances, human beings can mature in certain ways very rapidly. To live in Haiti, to grow up here, is something that I will never be able to comprehend because my life experience was nothing like this. But the joy that the Christian’s in Haiti possess is unmistakably, the joy of the Lord. The worship that takes place here is genuine and pure. It is the adoration of those who have been through more trials and hardships in the last 18 months than most will experience their entire lives. And they are better people for it. Their reliance on Jesus is total. Their spiritual growth curve is always upward.
I try not to look at my own spiritual growth curve because I fear that if it were my stock funds growth curve I would have sold out long ago and traded up to a better fund. What does your spiritual growth curve look like? Would you invest in it?
We are leaving Haiti a week from tomorrow on the 15th and have experienced much in our time here. We have been meeting weekly with Todd Guckenberger, director of Back2Back Ministries via Skype and are happy to announce that we are officially joining Back2Back as full time staff members this week!
As we look forward, we are working on where and when we will be doing our training as well as where God is leading us to serve. Back2Back, along with us, are still in the preliminary stages of planning and looking at Haiti as a new site. This is looking very good but has several issues that will need to be worked out in the next 12 months. The timing is the tricky part for us as we would like to be on the ground training and serving late this summer. It will likely take a bit longer to get Haiti off the ground and the other couple that is looking to go will need more time to prepare as well.
So, tentatively we are looking at the possibility of doing some training at the Monterrey facility for a couple of months and/or doing 12-18 months serving at the Cancun site as a transition time for our family as well as mentoring with the site directors of Cancun, Matt & Julie Cooper, who we really connected with during our trip in January. During this time it is possible that we would be getting the ball rolling with Haiti, traveling there to lead Back2Back short term groups that will allow us to hit the ground running when the Haiti site takes off.
So our next steps when we return home are to attend our Fundraising Boot Camp seminar in Indianapolis March 16-19, and get right to work doing fund raising full time. The sooner we are able to get fully funded, the sooner we will be able to begin our training and ministry. We are praying that the Lord will bless this and we will be able to move to Mexico no later than August of this year.
So that is where we are at, and where we see the Lord leading right now. I feel compelled to make a disclaimer statement that the Lord will open and shut doors according to His will and not ours, so all plans are subject to His leading and not our guessing. Please pray that He continues to go before us and that we continue to follow Him in all things.