“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” –James 1:2-3
I have always been told that faith is built through experiences… like a tower that is expanded upon with each new promise that is held up by our unfailing God. Yet so many times, like today, I find myself stressed beyond belief about finances, work, and family and it seems my faith is really small. It’s in times like these that I wonder if I have any faith at all? I wonder if God is going to intervene and “fix” things. I wonder if He even hears?
It’s during these times that my mind turns to Haiti. I think first about how little many people there and all across the world have. I think about how little it seems to take to survive. I think about friends we met there who haven’t eaten in days. I think about how they feed their children mud cookies to fill their bellies. Those thoughts don’t always do much to quell my fearful heart over whatever problem I’m facing at the moment but it does put it into perspective. I’m not starving. I’m not on the brink of starvation. I have access to medical care. If I had children, they would be receiving an education. I have a house that protects me from the elements. I am employed. I have transportation. I can worship freely.
Despite these things, I still feel my heart overflow with stress. Why is my faith so shallow? I am reading a book that a friend gave me called “Revelation in World Missions.” I’m not too far into it but in the fourth chapter it talks about this fellow’s transition to America. He was previously a street preacher in India with only the clothes on his back, no shoes and he faced intense persecution where ever he went. He wrote with amazement in his book about how he realized in his first few weeks here that Americans were unaware of their affluence. They were unaware of their wealth. He speaks of an instance where a church was raising money for a project back in India and celebrated the amount of money they had raised. He was impressed as well, until he realized they had spent twice as much in food for the event!
I guess all my rambling is leading back to this. God is continually showing Jared and I what faith building looks like. Through the things that stress us out, He is trying to bring us back to the big picture. I don’t know that we’re there yet but I am so thankful he hasn’t given up on us.
On another note:
The Spirit has really convicted me about what to do on this upcoming trip to Haiti. Another source of stress, ironically, has been how to “fix” Haiti. After reading a blog post by Jillian Kittrell about wisdom and service on the mission field I had to back up and punt. Am I focusing too much of my thoughts and energy on “fixing” Haiti instead of spreading the Gospel? What is my motive in going again and again?
I’ll be honest I didn’t like the answer I came to. After reflecting on an encounter with another mission group in Haiti this past summer who was not concerned with spreading the love of Christ but just slapping bandaids over a problem, I decided I did not want to travel that path again. So I’m traveling to Haiti in March with a refreshed outlook–one that focuses on teaching children Bible stories rather than frantically facebooking the US every night to find them sponsors. (Although, I’m sure I’ll still do that as the need arises.) I pray that God softens the hearts of those we will meet and that he will get me out of the way and just use my mouth to speak His word and my hands to help others. I hope that you will join me in this prayer.
While we are down there we do have several things we’d love to accomplish:
Jared is hoping to help a friend of ours who manages Feed My Sheep farm for us rebuild his house that was lost during a storm. There is still money to be raised for that but for the most part, we have some supplies to work with while we’re down there.
I hope that Natalie and I can teach some of the children about how seeds become plants and give the kids letters and seed packets for their families from some of the students at Sneads Elementary School.
Mom and I want to be purposeful in teaching Bible stories everywhere we go, much like Brother Justin did this summer.
We could use your support accomplishing these things. If you have any children’s Bible story books, old VBS or Children’s Sunday School material, we’d love to take it with us to teach to the kids we work with. We are always looking for donations so that we can buy Bibles in country in the correct translation. Money to purchase emergency items like medicine, rice or water for families in dire straits is also appreciated.We also have team members that are still waiting on the Lord to provide the rest of their money for their travel expenses or plane tickets.
One more faith building experience:
I had been fretting over how Jared and I were going to pay for our travel expenses for the March trip. I knew we were supposed to go and I knew it would be taken care of. God had miraculously taken care of us in the past when it concerned mission trips… I just wasn’t sure how it was going to happen this time. I went to pay my deposit with all of the money we had saved from Christmas, Birthdays and my photography business and had just enough to make the deposit. When we turned in the money the director told us that this money would be used to rice, beans and Bibles. I explained that this was the deposit money. He told me that our in-country costs had been covered! I broke down crying and praising the Lord! All we have left to pay is our plane tickets!
Bondye Bon! God is Good!