As the 4th of July approaches, the torrential rains have ceased. Flood waters are receding. And now it’s time to enjoy some sunshine, right? What do you have planned?
My family and I really enjoy hopping in the car and taking little trips, snapping photos and experiencing God’s amazing creation. Every time Summer rolls around, we talk about how we’ll be spending our time, scheduling activities, time with friends, church events, excursions. Recently, however, we pivoted and asked what should we be doing this year?
1982: There was a Christian musical artist named Keith Green. We listened to his music daily. I was in attendance at his next-to-last concert, just two days before the Lord called him home in a plane crash. We had gone expecting to be entertained, but instead experienced a fervent call to take the love and grace of Christ to the world. Keith was promoting YWAM Mercy Ships, medical ships that brought physical and spiritual healing around the world. In the concert, Keith emphasized (and I paraphrase), ‘Go into all the world and make disciples…and don’t worry about the lost at home, there will be plenty who will disobey and stay.’ It was startling and uncomfortable to face. But it connected with my soul.
2018: As we contemplated Summer activities, the Lord turned the idea on its head. He said, go to Haiti. Let me explain. The previous Spring, my wife and I attended a benefit BBQ for a missions group CARHA and spent time with the founder, Djumy Septembre. We were moved by his testimony and the work being done in the orphanage and in the remote villages where they have established schools, churches and medical clinics. The book of James beat in my chest.
“Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” (1)
I was immediately compelled to go. So, in August 2018, armed with my camera and equipment, I embarked on a missions trip to Haiti. Guided by a small group from CARHA, I was able to witness and capture firsthand the poverty and despair most of the of the Haitians call “normal,” starkly contrasted by the smiles and hugs from the kids living safely in the orphanage. That first night, I sat on my bunk, exhausted, setting my batteries to recharge and backing up my media. I was overwhelmed by my own indulgence, devoting so much energy to vacations, cruises, and the like, when there is so much to be done in the lives of people in desperate need, so many who do not know the joy, forgiveness, hope, and unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (2)
Now, we all need times of refreshing. That’s why the word recreation (re-creation) was invented. So, we will, in a more purposeful way, still embark on adventures, find unusual food to enjoy, and see the majesty that is God’s creation. And I pray that we all will become more others-oriented with our time and resources.
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (3)