Monday, November 12, 2007
Bringing Hope to Haiti
I'm leaving for Haiti today. I'll be there for a week building a school in the small mountain village of Marfranc outside the port city of Jeremie on the far end of Haiti's southern peninsula. I'm going with six other people through New Life for Haiti, the non-profit development organization started by our parent church, LifeSpring Community Church in Plainfield, IL. It will be my first time in an actual Third World country (Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and possibly in the entire world) and I can't wait. It will certainly be a lot of hard work, but I am eager to be down there, to serve, and to get to know some of the Haitian people.

Some have asked my why we're going to build a school. Why spend the money to send a bunch of Americans down there to do the work? Why not just send the money and pay the Haitians to do it themselves? What good do we add to the equation?

That's a good question, and I am definitely all for empowering native peoples to lift themselves out of poverty. However, I think there is value in my being there as well. Brian McLaren actually tells a story in Everything Must Change that I think expresses it well. He tells of a family in Argentina that adopted a small Indian village up in the mountains and decided to help them build a school for themselves. Brian asked the mother of this family, Graciela, a similar question "Why? Why didn't the people try to build a school before?" Then he gives us Graciela's answer:

"The people had no hope. When people have no hope, all they think about is scraping by for one more day. There is no tomorrow, there is no creativity, there is no will to organize, people can't even think straight, because they have no hope... we weren't there just to help them as some superior people helping inferiors. No, we were there because we genuinely loved them - no, not just that - we liked them... It wasn't the resources we brought that made a difference. It was our presence. We were simply among them as people with hope, among them as people with love, and that made the difference. They caught our hope."

That is why I'm going to Haiti. Not as a great white savior, but simply as a bearer of hope.

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posted by Mike Clawson at 12:30 AM | Permalink |


At 11/13/2007 08:15:00 AM, Blogger Pollux

Mike: I speak from personal experience when I say do not let anyone devalue the power of the hope that you will give the Haitians that you encounter. Without ever speaking the name of Christ, the love that you will surely take to the people you meet will honestly shine in their lives, and certainly God will bless the building work you all do, as well.

I have traveled three times to Siberia, each time with a mission to do some minor construction project (while building a school is something I would consider major). The "work" that I ended up doing, the real work, was literally holding orphans, playing soccer with them, hugging them, having them trounce me at ping-pong, etc. I ended up loving them, doing very little useful construction work, and having my perspective about my life here in Texas completely changed.

Each year, roughly 200 children at three orphanages on the other side of the Earth look forward to two weeks in the summertime, when they can live at forest camps and when Americans will "waste" their time and money to travel around the world to show them that they are worthy of someone's time, and that God loves them, finally.

I am excited for you and I know that your experience will bless countless Haitians, will bless you, and will finally be a blessing to everyone whose life you touch, Mike. Whatever touches your heart will come to glorify God who is sending you out, and will bless others.


At 11/13/2007 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Dan Barnett.

Mike, good for you guys. I was scheduled to go to Haiti in 2000, but the political unrest made it too dangerous. We got sent to Panama instead. I saw so many teens alongside me going to experience GOd. I'm happy to see your right motives. Be blessed.


At 11/17/2007 02:03:00 AM, Anonymous Aaron

Well said brother. And that is a great quote. I am and will be praying for you while you're down there.


At 11/17/2007 02:09:00 AM, Anonymous Aaron

I also forgot to mention that I lived in the Dominican Republic for a summer - so right on the other side of the island. I lived in a very poor area and amazingly, there was a noticeable difference between the poverty of the locals, and the extreme poverty of the Haitian refugees living nearby. The Dominicans view the Haitians as an inferior race. It boggles my mind and yet feels too close to home. It seems that prejudice and social injustice exist most everywhere. I am glad that you and your team will be serving and loving amidst the brokenness.


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