My day started by my spilling coffee all over some papers I was carrying, followed by finding out that I had scheduled a meeting of a committee I chair for next Monday but had failed to inform any of the members of that committee. All that is a problem to me, and represented two messes that I’ve needed to work on cleaning up this morning.
And yet, where is my perspective on ‘mess’ and ‘suffering’?
Last night I received an email update from a man who is serving in Haiti with his wife and family. He is a man I met a number of years ago. He is a gentle, soft-spoken Haitian man with a heart deeply committed to serving Christ.
When I first met him, he was in seminary, adding Greek and Hebrew to his complement of languages which already included French, Creole, and English. He persevered and was eventually ordained to the gospel ministry in our presbytery, our association of churches.
He pastored for a time a church of Haitian families. He loved them and faithfully served them. I met there his lovely wife and their four delightful boys, all of whom remind me of my own son who is, himself, of Haitian ethnic descent.
But he was not settled there. His heart yearned for his native land. Though he could live comfortably pastoring in Florida, he chose to move with his wife and family to the depravation of life in Haiti. He chose this. This is Crazy Love personified.
Our last personal contact with him came last year some time when he was gathering material to replace the personal belongings he and others had lost as a result of the hurricane triggered floods in Haiti. He received what we could give with joy and gratitude, though he had lost nearly everything. He still went back to Haiti.
So, when the earthquake hit, we all immediately thought of him and his family. We were happy to hear that they had survived. We were saddened to hear that they could not reenter their house. Though it had not collapsed, it has been seriously weakened and is now unusable.
Last night, I tried to read to my family an email update from our friend, whose name I’m purposely not using since I am going to copy from that email, and don’t have any way of securing his permission to do so. So he remains here anonymous. But I tried to read the letter, but couldn’t without weeping, overwhelmed with his suffering, with the sense of helplessness, and with the realization that this is what he has chosen. This is where love for Jesus has led him.
Dear Partners in Christ,
There is a new update in our situation here in Port-au-prince. Today at about 1:00PM the principal of the Christian School came to me and my wife and said, “I have made connection to Missionary Flight international for your wife and the boys to leave the country and you have five minutes to be ready.” They had no time to even change and go get some clothes at home. As I am writing this email they are in the air going to Florida to my mother-in-law.
As for me, I am here at the school trying to minister to the people that have lost children, parents, siblings. People whose houses have collapsed. The scene is horrible. The air is polluted with the smells of dead bodies laying everywhere. My kids have seen dead bodies and they are so afraid that they could not even sleep.
Please pray for us for this open opportunity to share the wondrous love of our God. People are dying here because the relief effort of the international community and the government is very slow. There are cities like Leogane that is destroyed at about 80%.
This is a huge thing.I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of devastation and the amount of people that died. Every body, including ourselves, have been sleeping on the streets under the stars.
Yes, indeed, please pray.
Yes indeed; I also need a broader perspective. The annoying mess yesterday when a small container of spaghetti sauce went SPLAT! on the kitchen floor – and took only a few minutes to clean up – is nothing compared to Haiti. I didn't think of the comparison then, but thank you for bringing it to my mind with this post.