At some point the attention of the world will move away from Haiti. It will happen for any number of reasons and probably a combination of them all; disaster fatigue on our parts, some new item will hit the news and replace Haiti, the drama of rescues will subside, the slow work of rebuilding is just not compelling news, or simply we want to get back to our own lives. However, the pain of the people there, the work needed to restore lives, and the opportunity to show the love of Christ will continue for years, maybe decades, to come. With estimates of 200,000 dead this approaches one hundred times as many dead as 9/11 or Katrina. The physical devastation makes Katrina and Hurricane Andrew look manageable.
So how does the Body of Christ respond once the media attention has died and the initial disaster relief is over? Let’s consider what a provocative Christian response would be and make a decision now to do just that. In order to help Haiti in a positive way it will be important that rebuilding happens in cooperation with local Haitians. The world could come in and rebuild everything and leave Haiti with all new infrastructure but no sense of self-worth as a people or ownership of their lives. We would simply be continuing what has become a “welfare-dependent state” that is forced to look to the rest of the world for its sustenance. What needs to happen is for Christians to connect with other Christians in Haiti and come along side them, working together to rebuild their country and their lives in ways that allow them to own the process and the results. We need to go as servants not as the answer people who will solve all the problems.
So where do we start? First we need to look to those groups who are already connected in Haiti that are helping Haitian Churches impact their communities. Through those groups we can come alongside our brothers and sisters who live there, know the community, know the needs, and will carry on the work of Christ when no foreigners are around. We need to help those locals be seen as the ones doing the real work and we are serving them. Groups like Churches Helping Churches, New Missions, and IsleGo are already doing this. They are helping local Haitian Churches make an impact for Jesus. The best thing we can do is commit to help them do that.
Second, we need to have followers of Jesus from all over the world connect to organizations like this and then go to Haiti. They don’t need you there today. There are plenty of first responders and other trained disaster relief people getting there. In fact there is a backlog of people trying to get on the island. But what about four or five months from now? Would you be willing to forgo your plans for a two-week summer vacation and instead go to Haiti for two weeks and serve? Would you be willing to commit to that for the summer of 2010, 2011, and even 2012? That is provocative. That is Christ-like serving.
Third, would you be willing to ask others, even people who are not following Christ to join you on such a mission? Yes even those who do not follow Jesus can be used by Jesus for his glory. Not only that, but Jesus has a way of bringing people into a relationship with himself by first getting them to server others in just such situations. I saw a family of four go on a trip to rebuild homes in Mississippi with a dozen other Christ-followers. On that trip the entire family came to Christ because of the love they saw demonstrated and because Jesus used that trip to break down their walls.
This is certainly one of the greatest disasters in the Western Hemisphere in some time. But it is also one of the greatest opportunities we have had to demonstrate what it means to “Love Jesus With All Our Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength and to Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves”. That is what being a Provocative Christian is all about.