There’s a tiny village in the north of Haiti named Phaeton. Phaeton is about three feet above sea level, about five hours north of Port au Prince, and home to about 2,500 people. You’ve probably never heard of it. Most haven’t. It’s twenty kilometers to the nearest market. The people survive solely on fish from the sea, fruit from their trees, and diminishing amounts of human will.
Down in Port-au-Prince lives a couple who used to rent our house in Missouri. They were in the States on a break–an Illinois girl who married a Haitian guy committed to serving the people of Haiti after the earthquake. They’ve returned to Haiti for a new work with those who have been exploited in the most heinous ways–children of the sex trade.
The husband in the pair was the second Haitian I ever met. The first was a guy named Romano, who translated a sermon for me in 2005 when I was in the Dominican Republic. While in the Dominican, we visited a community called The Hole–an old trash dump where drugs were as ubiquitous as the stench of sewage. Pigs lay cooling in the puddles of dirty water, goats munched on pieces of trash alongside children who wouldn’t get a meal otherwise.
Romano was the first translator I ever had. The second was in India this past October. Daniel translated for me in various village churches. While in India I learned of a red light district in the northeast corner of the nation, near the border of Nepal and Bhutan and Bangladesh. There, kids are forced to inhale gasoline to curb their appetite during the day. They–or their mothers, or both–are then forced to service perverted clients all night long.
And on and on it goes, all around the world. Stomach-churning injustices. These just a handful from my own personal experience.
The problem is not lack of problems. There is poverty and hunger and thirst and persecution and perversion and all manner of evil in every country in the world, including our own. There are refugee wives being abused by their husbands in St. Louis and young girls being trafficked in Houston, Texas. There are homeless people freezing to death in Jackson, MIssissippi. There are poor Native American people in rural South Dakota, where it’s presently about negative two million degrees, who don’t have enough money for their heat bill. “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. He wasn’t joking around.
The problem is not the absence of solutions. In each of the scenarios I mentioned above, there are people actively working to serve these people. There are boots on the ground, soldiers on the front lines. There are feeding centers and outreach initiatives and willing servants and the church and lots of vision and strategy and prayer and passion being thrust in the direction of the problems. People are doing life with the hungry, the thirsty, the unwelcome, the abandon, the sick. They live hip to hip, and they are doing a good work. Jesus also said, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.” He wasn’t joking about that, either. And there are armies of folks globally pointing people toward Jesus and meeting their immediate physical needs, too.
The problem, often, is the lack of funding. How does one pay for a children’s home for kids rescued out of the red light district in India? Who supports the refugee wife and her kids so they can escape an abusive situation? Who provides clean water for the village in Haiti? Who supports the missionary couple in Port-au-Prince? Who donates the sleeping bag to the homeless guy? Who funds these efforts? Despite the generosity of many, there are still many unmet needs. Just today, I had lunch with a man who works in an inner city ministry which is making an impact–and they’re in the red on the year, desperate for partnership and additional resources.
You’ve read the stories, watched the documentaries, read the blog posts, and seen the commericals. The world stinks. So much injustice. Child slavery, people dying of starvation, whole people groups without the Gospel in their language, entire villages without clean drinking water. Human trafficking? Why are those two words ever used together? It doesn’t make sense.
But what are you going to do about it?
Imagine no gasoline-inhaling children and no kids sharing a snack with a goat and no refugees running for their lives (again) and no villages with no food. Imagine the words “human” and “trafficking” not being used together ever again and no people freezing to death and no dignity-robbing circumstances hung on people’s necks like oppressive shackles.
Can you see it? I can. I believe we (not I, not you, but we) have it in our power to affect meaningful change.
God has been stirring in my heart, as well as my wife’s, for a couple years now. We are just tired of not doing anything about it. We believe we have it in our power–the will, the resources, the time–to make an impact, to help usher in the Kingdom of God in tangible ways. It’s why my wife went back to school to get further training in medicine, it’s why we sold our house, it’s why we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the folks we’ve met in Haiti and India and the Dominican Republic and St. Louis and Houston and South Dakota and Jackson. But taking a picture, writing a blog, and patting ourselves on the back for being willing to go doesn’t quite cut it any more. We want to do more.
We are going to do more.
We are done doing nothing, and we want to invite you to be done doing nothing, too.
Next week, I will post a blog entitled “Why Not Change the World?” on Tuesday afternoon. Consider that your invitation to join us, and share it with anyone you know who might feel the same way.
Thanks for reading.