We step off the plane from Haiti, and the TV headline blares at us, with the “burning question” of our day: Did Beyonce lip-sync or did she not?
I can only stare at the screen and blink. This? This is what consumes us in America?
And somewhere in Haiti, a woman dries mud pies in the sun. She will try to mask the pain of her family’s hunger with dirt, but it will never really fill.
And what does it really mean to be the least of these? Because I’m pretty sure I met some of the richest people on the planet this week , right there in abject-poor Haiti — rich in love and mercy and hospitality and gratitude. Rich in worship, these souls who bring worn Bibles to worship, who cry out their adoration of the Savior, who lift their hands high and higher still, singing with the angels. It was a dance-party in the pews, with Bibles and palms and tear-stained faces rising heavenward. The Good Book says that God is enthroned on the praises of His people, and I would NOT be surprised if three-quarters of our Lord’s throne were marked with these three words: “Made in Haiti.”
This is what it means to praise Him, not merely lip-syncing the words like mouthed abstractions of theology, but a deep adoration that takes your soul face-first onto the floor of the throne room.
Somewhere in Haiti, today, a woman feeds her and her family dirt for breakfast.
So I do have to ask myself: What is the dirt I am consuming, masking my hunger for real nourishment? How soon will I demand fuller cupboards, a new pair of jeans, a more trendy coat of paint, another pair of black boots? I really could remain malnourished in the worst way. It would be easy. Might it be true that living here in America is one way to actually starve?
Oh, God, I am hungry for you — a hunger only you can fill. Holy Spirit, Guard. Our. Hearts. Against everything false that promises to fill. I want to be radically in love with You, Jesus, not living some sort of lip-synced version of Christianity.
I am sitting in the Fort Lauderdale airport terminal, with the Beyonce-debate blaring on the screens, and I turn away. I flip on the iPhone to check email. First email in my inbox is this: “What Does a bit of Radical Christianity Really Look Like — Right Where You Are?” It’s a blog post by my dear friend, fellow pig-farmer’s wife and Jesus-sister, Ann Voskamp. Her words wrap tightly around my Christ-hungry heart.
In the airport terminal, I read Ann’s words over and over again: “Is it even possible to be a radical Christ-follower — and own a mini-van, have more than one bathroom, order clothes from Land’s End, and lay your head down on a pillow when He had none? Really? What is the North American church really supposed to do? Anyone want to buy the hogs so we can go? What are mothers really supposed to do?”
Sister Ann … I am with you. I want to fight the middle ground, want to live what I believe, want to make love deposits right where I am — and also where I cannot be, want to get a little bit radical for Jesus.
Two days earlier, my pig farmer and I were sitting side-by-side in the cab of a pickup truck, right there in Haiti. He was driving down the dirt road, far from the fields and the hogs. He had his work-worn hands gripping that wheel, wearing his “Made to Worship” T-shirt with the cut-off sleeves. Back home, every day, my favorite farmer drives a pickup truck, and in the spring, the back-end is filled with stacked bags of seeds. On that afternoon in Haiti, we carried the most precious cargo of all: God’s children, a gaggle of twelve giggling orphans, seeds of Haiti’s future. We were driving the children back down the hill to their orphanage.
My favorite farmer and I looked at each other, smiling, shaking our heads, in awe over the indescribable moment as we bumped down that narrow road.
Later, someone would stop by that same orphanage, to report that a mother had abandoned her baby in a nearby village. The father was alive, but unable to properly care for the child. A few of us followed the roads back up the hill, to find the baby, malnourished and weak and naked. My friends, Michelle and Renae, held the baby in the cab. I sat in the back of the truck, under the Haitian sun, next to that stoic father, who went with us to sign over the appropriate papers to give away his son.
Michelle called the baby’s father a modern-day Abraham, being asked to give up his Isaac.
What Isaacs could I give up right here, where I am? To what am I clinging, that is holding me back from radical Christianity? I really was Made to Worship. Am I living what I was made for?
I may be asking myself that one question for a while, fighting for the right answers in a world filled with wrong answers and false saviors and proverbial mud pies for the soul.
Some experiences in life feel so big, and the words seem so small. Haiti is one such experience.
There is more to tell, and maybe someday I’ll find the words to wrap around it all.
Or maybe I won’t.
I pray that in the haze of years, I won’t forget the mud pies, or the ocean foam at my feet, the goats in the school kitchen, watching a movie with 100 Haitian children gathered under the moon, brown hands in white hands, the tears streaming as I prayed with my ViBella sisters; the old lady, Adelize, who crawls out of bed every morning because she cannot walk, and she lays on a piece of cardboard. I met her nine months ago, and she’s been on my heart every day since, so I brought her a blanket and a meal — such small sacrifice, and I’m no hero. Jesus is the only hero in my life, and I fall down at his feet just now, next to the Haitian people. And we were all made to worship. So I lift a hand, lift a hand up for the only One who can fill the deepest hunger known to man.
Fill me, Lord.
A less-than-two-minute video recap of our trip (subscribers can click here to view):