I’m on my 10th mission trip in Haiti. Up until this point, I’ve always stationed myself within the walls of the same orphanage. I’d been working one-on-one with a small group of special needs children, focusing on their education and building deeper personal relationships with them individually; investing in their lives through consistent support. Showing up; never giving up. Over and over again.
There’s been a sudden shift. The winds are changing. Right now, things are more uncertain than they’ve ever been. I’ve found myself in an uncomfortable and lonely position. I’m not affiliated. I don’t have a church supporting me. I’m not sure I even have a church aware that I’m doing what I’m doing on the mission field. I’ve moved beyond the comfort and familiarity of the orphanage walls. I travel to Haiti on my own, and my work is mostly invisible.
I have spent hours at the feet of Jesus, with the voices of the world swirling in my head, panicking about my purpose. I let the pressures and opinions of society convince me that I needed to be doing something more, something bigger, something louder. The church likes things in a neat and tidy package; pictures of adorable babies being given much needed clothing or food. All of that is great, and is exactly where I started. But what I’m doing right now is messy, painful, and often chaotic. I’m wading through the stuff no one wants to think or talk about. I don’t post as many photos these days; what I’m up against doesn’t make for pretty pictures.
God has given me simple directions: Keep going back. Don’t give up. Obey in faith. Love those who go unnoticed or unwanted.
I used to gravitate towards the cutest kids, like most people do. They’re easy to love; easy to want to care for. But God quickly made it clear that I’m not here for those children. I’m here for the ones in the shadows. The ones carrying heavy burdens that they express in inconvenient and destructive ways. The ones who pretend not to care because caring, even being cared for, is a risk they don’t know how to take. The ones who bypass opportunities to improve their future because everything within them says they don’t deserve one. The ones that remind me of who I used to be – scared and alone, desperate for love but constantly pushing it away.
God placed a small group of boys in my life who, without consistent support, will likely become just another statistic. As high as 70 percent of orphaned boys will spend time in jail or prison for criminal offenses. The need for intervention in Haiti, on countless levels, is overwhelming. If I step back and look at it, I instantly want to run because I know there’s very little I can do about it…for the masses. But, for just a few, I can make a difference. All I need is Jesus and the resolve to never quit, even when things are impossibly difficult.
I’ve doubted myself daily. I’ve believed the lie that I don’t belong. I’ve screwed up and missed moments when I should have been more outspoken or quick to act. I’ve spent nights crying myself to sleep, feeling hopeless and defeated. That’s how I’ve felt. What I know is that there is no one beyond the reach of God’s healing grace. Not one child goes unnoticed in the eyes of Jesus. And because He loved me at my darkest, I am commanded to do the same for others.
Some may look at these boys and see a lost cause. When I look at each of them, and at the statistics, my heart screams, “Not this one!” I will forever give my all, and then some, to see them come from darkness into light. If I only impact a handful of lives, if that’s what God’s designed me for, then that’s enough for me.
Not today. Not this time. Not this one.