February 13, 2010

Love in Action

After weeks of quick planning my husband is going to Haiti tomorrow. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, he knew he had to go. So in the pre-dawn hours he and six others from our church will head to Newark airport, laden with suitcases filled with first aid supplies, donated clothing, men’s flipflops and other necessities that have been requested. 

In the wake of the earthquake, it seems everyone wants to do something to help. Haiti isn’t the kind of place one just gets on a plane and goes to, so few will have the chance to actually go and help.

But the Foundation for Peace, the group with whom our church has partnered with to do mission work is located in the Dominican Republic. They have the experience, staff, contacts and know-how to provide medical, physical and spiritual help directly to quake survivors and they’ve been doing so since days after the earthquake. Now they’re taking in teams of volunteers. As a result, Dan jumped at the opportunity to go. Three from our church were there this week and arrive home tonight. I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear all the details of their trip.

Besides time and a calling, mission trips require money. Many trip goers pay for these trips out of their own pockets. Some pursue fundraising. Dan chose the latter. Not shying away from the Christian aspect of the trip and even quoting a Bible verse, Dan penned an appeal and emailed it to friends, business colleagues and clients asking for their help.

Then, he sat back and watched God work.

As he and I have seen in past experiences, fundraising is about so much more than a financial transaction. It brings out people’s natural generosity that they’re just not sure where to channel, especially in a situation as daunting as Haiti. It allows folks to be a part of an experience much bigger than themselves. And it demonstrates what it looks like when ordinary, everyday Christians become the hands and feet of Jesus.

It’s the best kind of evangelism. Love in action. Love with no expectation of repayment. Love that requires sacrifice (and a good bit of discomfort).

Let’s face it Christians as a group often get a bad rap. As a whole we’re frequently painted as a closed society filled with closed-minded people. How refreshing when someone with a previously sullied opinion of Christianity sees faith in action. Perhaps it causes a few to say, “Hmm, maybe there’s something to the Jesus thing.”

What a difference we can make when we live our faith out loud, for others to see. No pressure. No preaching. No moralizing. Faith in action pure and simple.

I expected Dan would receive donations. I didn’t, however, anticipate how blessed the donors would be by Dan’s appeal or how enthusiastically they’d support him. Like the long out-of-touch high school friend who donated and then passed the request on to her friends. Or the Cub Scout troop who took up a collection at their meeting and delivered coins and crumpled dollar bills. Or the business colleague so inspired he’s looking into going on one of the upcoming trip. But I was most blessed by the response from one of Dan’s clients. The client passed the fundraising note on to his staff and encouraged them to contribute. Each staff member chimed in and offered what they could. “I’m in for $10.” “Put me down for 20.” “I want to give $50.” The responses poured in. And then the client matched what his staff donated. The amount collected almost funded Dan’s entire trip!

God's love is everywhere and with each donation, no matter what the size, I’ve seen evidence of this love. Whether the donors can put a name to it or not, with each gift God is glorified.

So in several short hours this week’s team of missionaries, including my husband, will board planes and head to Santo Domingo. There’s no clear roadmap for what they’ll do. Needs change daily. Patience and flexibility will be required. But I know the work they do is in the Lord’s hands.

I pray our heavenly Father covers them with His protection and fills them with His Spirit. And though they travel a great distance hoping to make a noticeable difference, even if they sit on a mat and hold a child's hand, let that be enough.

And by their example may others know deep in their heart they've encountered Jesus.

On Valentine's Day, what greater gift of love is there than this?


Dan said...

So, here we are - 10 hours from wheels-up time at Newark and our team is chomping at the bit to go. As Kelli mentions, we really only have a vague idea of what we'll be doing...but I know exactly what we'll see. I know this because another church member called me this morning from Santo Domingo as they were preparing to leave from last week's trip. She was calling with some last-minute suggestions and needs on the ground. During the conversation, she said this, "Dan, there are people here in the medical clinic with broken bones, broken bodies, broken families and broken homes. But none of them have broken spirits."

The Dominicans have always been an inspiraton to us on past mission trips. It sounds like our Haitian brothers and sisters will be the same. Will report in to Kelli as we go. Much to be done. More to be learned.

Laura said...

Bless him and all the others who are being God's hands during this desperate situation. I will pray for he and his colleagues, Kelli. And for you too! Sometimes it's hard being left behind. You must be so proud of him.

Still praying for Haiti.

Terri Tiffany said...

This post brought tears to my eyes as I read about those giving people in response to this need. My husband did a mission trip to Haitti last year--at the same time as the earthquake. He helped an orphanage and we were so happy to hear they all made it through. Your husband will be busy and blessed thoroughly. I'll be praying for him this week.

Cheryl Barker said...

So glad Dan is getting a chance to be a part of a ministry trip to Haiti -- and what wonderful news about everyone's generosity in giving! Tell Dan our prayers go with him!

Sassy Granny ... said...

How wonderful! My church has a ministry outreach in Haiti, having built two churches and a training center there within the past two years. Those buildings no longer stand, but the people sure do. We are headed there enforce in April, taking medical, construction and other skill sets to help.

Bless you husband, especially for listening to God's leading. And you, too. It really is a team effort when we go into all the world ...


Susan S said...

One image I hope will never leave my mind is that of our Haitian brothers and sisters lifting up their amputated and broken arms in praise and thanksgiving to God. It was such a holy privilege to sit, touch, and pray with these people.

Saleslady371 said...

Praying for Dan and this wonderful outreach to help others. Thanks so much for telling us all about it.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Just yesterday, I received word from my cousin (a medical dr.) who had arrived in Haiti with a team of dr.s only to have their trailer full of supplies lost/stolen, etc. while stopping for a bathroom break. My uncle sent out an urgent plea for prayer and within an hour, the trailer had been found... being carefully guarded by some soldiers.

So glad for hearts that move in obedience to action, whether on the soil of Haiti and other places or through their pockets.

A collection of little things to make a big impact!

Prayers for your husband and his crew of mighty warriors!


Sue J. said...

I prayed for you yesterday before church, knowing Sunday was the day. It's going to be a very different trip than the Dominican venture.

Like Kathleen, our church has been involved in Haiti missions for years, and we have seen the loss of the work done there in those years. But our teams leaves in April, as well, and the gal heading up the trip just kept saying over and over how she just wants to BE THERE, because she was feeling so helpless not being there.

Dan may not build any buildings, but passing along those much-needed supplies...standing in the gap on behalf of a Haitian who needs help...what a blessing!

You remain in my prayers this week. That same Spirit that works in the soul of the Haiti people is the same one working in us, to pray and to act.

Lois Lane II said...

Oh, wow! Praying for you and for him during this time. You are so right: What greater gift of love is there? =)