I’m sorry but I can’t remain silent. I pray that word “shi**ole” wasn’t actually used to describe any country, but if I’m honest, it seems evident to me that it most certainly was…
In light of these accounts, I must speak out.
Perhaps it’s because I personally have been to countries that have been referred to in such derogatory terms. Not only have I been, but they have forever left their impression on me. I was taught faith like a child… from a child. A child who had nothing more to his name but the love he had received from his creator. Love that he gave to everyone he met. Love that poured from him as he taught the younger children games, showed them how to work, and stole my paintbrush away from me because he so desperately wanted to paint his church, to contribute to the work of the Almighty.
I was taught what perseverance really was when I saw a man who decided not to sleep, but instead guarded myself and others as we slept at night assuring that no one would be harmed, kidnapped or assaulted. This same man was at church bright and early on the following Sunday morning, the morning of this new church’s dedication, to lead the congregation in songs of worship.
I experienced true humility when I found out that the hard-working farmer across the street from where this church was being built could only provide enough for his family eight of out twelve months in the year. This farmer, who was harder working than most, who knew his craft inside and out, who plied his trade, was only able to sell his harvest at costs that took advantage of his station in life. It didn’t stop there… I also met men and women my age, going through the same training I had gone through to become pastors in the same denomination as me, who couldn’t even afford a printed Bible in their native tongue. They spent time, energy and even money to go to school to then lead churches all around their country doing what God had called them to do, a vocation they would most likely never receive pay for doing.
I felt shame, seeing babies whose mothers had to deal with the harsh reality of not being able to do anything about hunger pains. Shame knowing that I had food in my own fridge that had gone bad, that may be thrown out as a result while a child went to bed hungry before my eyes. Shame that so many are quick to point the finger at these people, those who are an easy target to be taken advantage of, saying that they are to blame for the situation of their lives and their country.
Most intensely, I felt gut-checked. The one thing I didn’t see was complaining. Not once did I hear one of these individuals complain about their life. Instead, we worked hard alongside one another to build a beacon of hope for their community. This church, this beacon, was more than just a place that people gathered in on Sunday mornings. It was also a community center, a place that would be used to house a school, that could be used to house mobile medical clinics, that could even function as a storm shelter during the hurricane season. They didn’t complain that God sent a hurricane to destroy their old church, but instead picked up tools and worked on the new one which they said was an answer to their prayers.
I went to Haiti with a desire to help those less fortunate than myself. Their situation is complex and not something so simply swept aside with choice words…
I left that country sad… My faith was shallow compared to their own… My determination to serve my God waned easily… my pride got the best of me… my stomach was full and still, I complained about the circumstances of my life.
That “sh**hole” country taught me what it meant to be an authentic follower of Jesus, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Forgive my offensive language…
I suppose I should add this to be as objective as possible; maybe that word wasn’t used… to that I would simply leave you with this –
Common English Bible (CEB)
Taming the tongue
1 My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, because we know that we teachers will be judged more strictly. 2 We all make mistakes often, but those who don’t make mistakes with their words have reached full maturity. Like a bridled horse, they can control themselves entirely. 3 When we bridle horses and put bits in their mouths to lead them wherever we want, we can control their whole bodies.
4 Consider ships: They are so large that strong winds are needed to drive them. But pilots direct their ships wherever they want with a little rudder. 5 In the same way, even though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts wildly.
Think about this: A small flame can set a whole forest on fire. 6 The tongue is a small flame of fire, a world of evil at work in us. It contaminates our entire lives. Because of it, the circle of life is set on fire. The tongue itself is set on fire by the flames of hell.
7 People can tame and already have tamed every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish. 8 No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we both bless the Lord and Father and curse human beings made in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and cursing come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it just shouldn’t be this way!
11 Both fresh water and salt water don’t come from the same spring, do they? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree produce olives? Can a grapevine produce figs? Of course not, and fresh water doesn’t flow from a saltwater spring either.
Until next time…