Sunday, June 05, 2011

"What happened?" Faith seeking understanding as Worship

One year ago, a team of us landed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. You can read about the trip here. I remember being so full of confidence that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing, ready to take on whatever challenges would come. They came, to be sure.

Indeed, we would play a lot of things by ear on that trip, trying to do our best to help those who came in our path without creating or reinforcing a dependency on western aid. The question, "what exactly are we doing here?" seemed, if not spoken, on the tip of everyone's tongue, because daily we faced our limitations--our lack of cultural understanding, of physical stamina, of creativity, or wisdom. My hope as a team leader was that, no matter how dark our doubts or ambiguous our effectiveness, we would at least share the experience, trusting one another for encouragement and wisdom. Every day, we ended with a daily wrap-up, in which I would ask, "what happened today?"

To me, this is the essence of worship. A life lived together before God. We sang songs together, prayed for one another, talked about what we had seen and done and, if we could, point to where we saw God in all of it.

A year later, I still present that trip before God, and ask for his Spirit to help me discern: "What happened a year ago?" I ponder this because, while there are many things to which I can point definitively and say, "yes, we did help there," there are also many things that have not turned out the way I expected. I no longer belong to the church that sent me and my 15 other team members to Haiti, and the manner in which that relationship changed still confounds and saddens me.

But more significantly, I remember as I walked into the muggy heat of Port-au-Prince, I was open to the possibility, even eager to see, that this trip to Haiti would be the first step toward a long-term calling to serve there. It may still be that, I suppose, but the vision for such a vocation is much murkier to me now. I know I thought I would be returning sooner than a year, and now I wonder not just how I will go back, but for what purpose? What do I, a teacher and worship leader, really have to offer the desperately poor in another culture?

Without answers, I present myself as I am--disoriented, unsure of my purpose--before God, and seek his Wisdom, praying that I would have eyes to see, ears to hear, patience to wait, and courage to follow.


Anonymous said...

Nate you put my thoughts into your words, I too wonder and look back at our trip knowing we helped but there is still so much to be done . I pray, support the Apparent project monthly and ask too "what can more can I do?" I also want to go back to Haiti and I pray that I will. You and Sarah were great Team Leaders, who knows how and when God will use us all next. Love you guys, Kat

Tim A said...

Two thoughts:
1. Haiti shows the powerful chains of entrenched sin and the struggle to free it requires much spiritual service and confrontation and prayer.

2. It seems to me it is far more strategic to send more financial resources to help those who have already been sent, know the culture, and know the language, and to support local saints who are leaders then to send more short term folks to "experience" missions so "they can be changed". We can be changed here if we are willing to "walk by faith, not by sight". For many, sight has been substituted in for faith as the basis for walking because it seems right to us and many claim "it worked for me". God has given us Americans more than enough Biblical and media evidence of what is happening there so that we can be servants of the saints in Haiti without consuming a large percentage of the resources just to get there and back. My last church (sad situation) spent $40,000 to send a crew of saints to " see and serve for 2 weeks". When the time was up, there was nothing that really benefited the local believers or the lost. It was primarily just an experience for the Americans to say they "went therefore to make disciples..."

Mission Frontiers Magazine is a great place to expand your faith without feeling the need to see.