At times the gulf between rich and poor seems as big as an ocean… and then at other times it’s just the width of a road. I took the photo above this post and the 18 feet between me and those tents felt like an ocean…
Welcome to Haiti read the sign at the airport. Once through customs and immigration we joined a bustling mass of people. It’d be easy to think that they were normal travellers but after listening to their conversations it turned out that pretty much everyone on the plane was here to see how they could help the Haitian people rebuild their country. Realising that there is such a desire to help was inspiring.
As most of you reading this know, every year at Spring Harvest we take up an offering and give this money away to charities doing amazing work. In 2012 we’ve called our offering ‘No Ceiling to Hope’ and we’ve come to Haiti to find out if there is a church we can partner with to help them ‘demonstrate the love of God to the most needy in their community.’ Given all I saw yesterday I’m totally confident that we’ll find loads of people we can partner with.
We’re really grateful to our friends at Compassion for enabling me, Abby Guinness, Krish Kandiah, Bekah Legg and Damian Wharton to come here on behalf of the Spring Harvest community. We’ve brought a film crew with us from OH TV to document our experiences – the people we meet, the places we visit and the impact the church is having – also with us are our friends Ian Hamilton and Steve Bunn from Compassion UK.
We arrived in Haiti yesterday and spent the day travelling and orientating ourselves to the people and the places we’re going to visit. And I have to say it was totally overwhelming (a word I think I’ll be using a lot this week). To be lifted out of your regular life and dropped into a place so different from your own life creates a weird sense of alternative reality. Almost every experience is different to what I see at home – instead of empty leafy streets I saw masses of people because in Haiti 85% of adults are unemployed, instead of houses I saw tents, instead of people living in comfort I saw people making the best of life under terrible conditions. It was overwhelming.
We went out for food to a Chinese restaurant. We had a great time talking about our hopes and dreams for the trip. I’m really passionate that the people we meet know that we don’t come with any other agenda than to serve them and what God is doing through them. I’m not even sure whether I want to use the phrase ‘help them’ – which of course we do but the phrase doesn’t sit well with me…
When we came out of the restaurant we faced what we hadn’t seen when we drove up – we saw the tent village. The picture at the top of this blog post is the photo I took of it. Between us and them was a road – 18 feet separated us. 18 feet between our side where we eat great food and can keep asking for more just because we can and their side where they eat nothing or our leftovers. 18 feet isn’t much – yesterday it felt like an ocean.
For me personally I guess this trip is about finding out how we navigate all the roads we discover that feel like an oceans. In doing that, I’m sure we’ll find our place in the bigger story of what God is doing in the world.
Stuff to think about…
Have you ever been in a situation where the road between you and others felt like an ocean?
If you have, what did you do to navigate it?
[P.s. Compassion are helping us identify a church we can work with to fund them building some infrastructure to host a Child Survival Programme. There is a real problem in Haiti with infant mortality basically lots of children aren’t surviving their early years and churches don’t have the buildings they need to run a programmes in. Of course we’ll be asking questions about how the money we give can be used most effectively, and, as always, we’ll do all the necessary checks on financial integrity.]