For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 4:6)
I spent last week in Haiti on a mission trip. My local church has become deeply involved in several communities outside of Port Au Prince, so I have travelled to Haiti numerous times over the past four years. As on past trips, I was out of touch with most of my American world over the last six days. My Internet connectivity was sporadic and my time was limited. So, I was not inundated with the latest “breaking news” from the media. I did hear about SCOTUS’ ruling on same-sex marriage, and I did read a couple of articles containing the opinions offered by the justices—and I am disappointed by the decision of our highest court. However, this past week I was “blinded by the Light”! Everywhere I looked, the Light of Jesus Christ dominated my vision. While much of the American culture was overshadowed by the same-sex marriage debate, let me share some of the light that I saw in Haiti with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Day 1: I met a man named Derrick from Minnesota in the Atlanta airport who was going on his first mission trip to Haiti. His excitement was contagious! Later, I ate dinner with a family from our church that sold everything they owned to move to Haiti and work to prevent more children from becoming one of the 450,000 orphans. I saw the Light in them.
Day 2: I looked out across the mountain landscape of Haiti cascading toward the Caribbean Sea while standing on the future site of a Mission Guest Village that will provide up to 1,000 jobs for the Haitian people. Those jobs are much needed with Haiti suffering from a nearly 80% unemployment rate. Also on that site is a fledgling manufacturing operation where Haitian workers are finding dignified work, producing quality hand-made products for the world market. An orphaned teenage boy is working to become the manager of that facility. I saw the Light in him.
Day 3: I listened to the testimony of a man named Andy from Colorado who has expertise in construction engineering. Several years ago he reluctantly went on a mission trip with his 16-year-old son. Today, he spends every moment of his spare time in Haiti, working on projects that better the lives of orphans. At this same location was Ty Taylor, a law student and member of my church, who is spending his summer as a construction intern. I saw the Light in them.
Day 4: I arrived at Mission of Hope and met with Brad Johnson, Bob King, and Drew Garrison. These three men and many others work tirelessly to reach every man, woman, and child with the Gospel while providing sustainable solutions to Haiti’s most difficult problems in the areas of education, shelter, medical, and physical nourishment. I held a bag of rice and beans, developed by the lead food engineer from Target Grocery Stores, that will cook in less than 25 minutes, reducing the need for a family to burn coal for hours. This makes a meal more affordable and cuts down on deforestation, a major problem in Haiti. I ended my day visiting with Pastor William, a deaf man leading a deaf church. Over three years ago, I prayed for him to become one of Haiti’s first deaf pastors. Pastor William reported that seven people in his church had accepted Christ and he would be baptizing them the next day. I saw the Light in them.
Day 5: I woke up early on my last day to attend a Haitian high school graduation. Proud families gathered and hundreds of people poured into the church to see over 100 students from a Christian high school celebrating what only 10% of the children in Haiti achieve—a high school diploma. At the airport waiting for my return flight, I met a young woman who lost her father suddenly this week and needed to travel back to the U.S. quickly. Our plane was delayed for over 5 hours. Several people including myself worked every possible angle to try and get her back in time for the funeral. In the end we were unsuccessful, but nevertheless the Spirit of Christ brought healing and strength to this young woman traveling alone in a third world nation trying desperately to get back to her family. I saw the Light in them.
Day 6: I finally arrived at my home, where my wife and children were anxious for me to meet a two-year old girl who is staying in our home for five days. She is in Foster Care and we are providing a respite for her foster parents. My children opened up their hearts, their rooms, and their toy box with a stranger while their daddy was on mission in Haiti. I saw the Light in them.
In short, this past week, I was simply too blinded by the Light of Jesus to be sucked into the media frenzy surrounding same-sex marriage. I am not saying this is not an important issue of our time. I am simply imploring the church to stay focused on the Great Commission as followers of Jesus being guided by the light that lights up the paths we each are to travel. I encourage you to see the Light that shines in the darkness. I am rejoicing with you that God is still at work and we have the privilege of joining in seeking His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
To you, the Church, I pray in the midst of darkness you too will be blinded by the Light. There is so much light piercing the darkness of this world. Please don’t get caught up in the dark holes that seek to steal your joy. Look around you today and be blinded by the Light!
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”