Living overseas, we are always running into people experimenting with new ways to help others and meet their needs. People send us emails about new technologies they have recently learned about and fascinating facts they have about those coming to the rescue for others in need. In an ever changing world, there is always a (seemingly) new need and new strategy with which to tackle it.
Working in the area of development, and especially now with clean water, I have the extreme honor of meeting some of the strongest and physically impoverished people in the world. I hear their stories, I see their situations and it is incredibly difficult for me to not take their issues and place them on my own shoulders. It is hard for me to not run out and buy all the water in the stores and pass it out. It is difficult for us to merely teach them, explain to them some simple ways they can choose to help their own communities and then allow them to develop their own developmental story. It’s especially hard in this day and age where teams can bring in new and quick solutions and when people are posting about technologies like this (really cool) book whose pages purify water. There are all kinds of new ways (and old ways) people are using to try and meet the growing demand for water that will not poison an entire people group. There are people always attempting to be on the cutting edge of technology or those who feel that just getting out there and doing SOMETHING, even if it’s not the best, will still be better than nothing.
When I look harder though, what I see is a bunch of people, running around, sometimes trying to help others before they help themselves.
I can tell you that bringing water to a people group is amazing. It is even more amazing (in my opinion) to raise up a leader within that group to run and maintain the projects. It is so incredible to see the life-giving effects having clean drinking water does for a community. But, honestly, it doesn’t solve all the problems. The people are still lacking.
And it has been at this point, folks, that I look around and realize I am trying to cover over my own issues. And I am humbled.
This is also at this point where I remember that I am a global citizen. I am a part of a world where we are so connected that I can read about what is happening all over the world whenever I want to as I sit here on the island of Hispaniola, where many lack access to basic needs. I am a part of a world where people are all fighting their own battles-to be heard, to be seen, to be respected, appreciated and acknowledged. It takes one look at my Facebook newsfeed to see how hot and bothered people truly are by all of the laws or lack of laws regarding a plethora of different issues.
My friends here in Haiti might not have access to clean drinking water, and my friends in the DR might be lacking a toilet. But, me and my friends in the West are lacking many things too: compassion, empathy or love for one another. I am sitting in some realllll dirty waste.
We have a really great balcony at the house we have in Haiti. It overlooks a little dirt soccer field and has a road straight on up to the mountains. Last week, on the eve before Holy Week began, I was standing on that balcony thinking of all the problems that existed within my eye’s view. I was thinking about the witch doctor next door, the friend across the street with some stomach issues, the widow down the road, the kids in the street and the garbage pile from which many people search for their food. It’s a lot for me to take on in a single glance- and honestly, no matter how long I look out there, I will never be able to comprehend the amount of need my neighborhood has. I will never be able to take it on. And, because of Jesus, I don’t have to.
That’s why I still need Easter. The story of Jesus’ resurrection is important to me because I can’t bear the weight of the issues in Haiti right now. The story of Jesus’ love is important to me because it is difficult for me to love some of my friends right now. The story of Jesus’ sacrifice is important to me because I am selfish in my planning and my wanting. The story of Jesus’ revelation is important to me because I realize that my story does not need to be perfect for God to have His way. The story of Easter matters because even though it was over 2,000 years ago, we are still a very broken world with some very dirty stuff in our lives, even if we are trying hard to instafilter it out.
We come up with new budgets to help fund our military to keep us protected. We create new laws to continue the rights we feel we deserve. We feel fear of the future and fear of ourselves and fear of the emptiness we have. But on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the emptiness that leaves us full: the tomb of Jesus. We celebrate the hope we have in the God who binds us up, who teaches us to love our enemy, who teaches us to bless those who curse us, who teaches us to be humble and servant hearted. We celebrate the fact that He does not leave us in our mess, in our own dirty waste. He brings us fullness and faith and hope. He brings us Himself.
In our attempts to fix our mess, we make more messes. As we stumble and crawl to figure out what we can do to help one another, we fail and make mistakes. And in the midst of it all, a humble leader and brave God comes to us and ministers to our brokenness. Because of this, we can celebrate all that we are NOT and all that He is.
May we continue to turn our eyes to He who has come and revealed Himself to us.
Happy Easter from Hispaniola!