Saturday, September 22, 2012

Loving in Deed and in Truth

When we first moved to Haiti 4 years ago the thing I struggled with most was the poverty I saw. Not only were we surrounded, we couldn’t escape it. At home people came knocking on the gate, as we drove around people would tap on our car windows, at the grocery store people begged by the entry way; the needy were everywhere. 

I was overwhelmed and my initial instinct was to block out what I saw, to simply do nothing and I had a list of excuses: Have you seen Haiti? Where do I start? I can’t possibly help everyone! And what if more and more people come asking for more and more things? Where do I draw the line? Aren’t we doing enough through our work with MAF? I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t have the answers. 

Thankfully for me, this is not where my story ends. 

I have a Father in Heaven who sent His only Son to die for my sins. 
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

Who loves me so much He rebukes and chastens me. 
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 

I have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ. 
Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 

And the Holy Spirit that comforts and teaches me. 
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 

And this is what He taught me regarding poverty: 

Luke 12:48b For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required. 
By Canadian standards I’m not that rich. To be honest we get handouts. By Haitian standards however, I am infinitely wealthy. I have a nice house to live in, a vehicle to drive, clothes to wear, and I NEVER EVER have to worry about having enough money to buy food to eat. God has given me much. 

When I said no or didn’t respond who was I saying no to? Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. In this passage Jesus is talking about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked and visiting the sick and imprisoned. It’s easy to skim over this when there are no hungry people knocking on your gate, when there’s social programs in place and when you don’t see people who are starving or naked, but in Haiti that’s not the case. 

So chastised, I prayed for wisdom, opened my cupboards and purse and began to help wherever an opportunity presented itself. I also began to answer the gate. I couldn’t say no to Jesus now could I? 

Just like I feared it didn’t take long before two boys began knocking at my gate regularly; Palo and Wilson. They wanted sandals, they wanted water, they wanted bread. So I gave, but grudgingly. I gave them sandals, I made peanut butter sandwiches, I filled bottles with clean drinking water, but my heart wasn’t really in it. 

It wasn’t long after that I read the words of 2 Cor 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. Rereading those words I saw where I went wrong. God wanted me to give, but not because I had to. He wanted me to give out of love, He wanted me to choose to give, and cheerfully give. Outwardly I was doing the right thing, but my attitude was wrong. 

So I prayed and asked God to change my attitude, to give me a new perspective and to fill my heart with love. I also started to talk more to the kids. Palo told me his Father died in the earthquake and neither of the boy’s mothers had work. Hearing this my heart softened and I started not to mind so much when they knocked on the gate. 

The next lesson I needed to learn was that God didn’t need me, but simply choose to use me, if I was willing. I learned this through the peanut butter jar. It didn’t matter how much peanut butter I put on their bread, I never ran out. I’ve used the same jar now for 2.5 years!

God then humbled me through the boys. One day Wilson came with money. It was a gift for me! Here I was grumbling about giving from my excess while he in turn gave from his want. It didn’t stop there. Whenever they had something they thought I would like they would come with it. One day the boys brought me a wilted hibiscus flower. When I showed my pleasure over the flower they quickly responded by offering to pluck the neighbor’s bush bare! Smiling I shook my head. 

God wasn’t finished yet. 

Two weeks ago Denise and I were talking. “My sister called me yesterday asking for money again.” She sighed. “She says she doesn’t have any food to feed her five kids. I’ve saved money from the jewelry sales but this is an ongoing problem and I don’t see her situation changing at all. Neither her or her husband work. I can’t keep giving them money!” Unsure of what to say I made no reply. 

The next day Denise and I were talking again when she said. “I can’t feed my kids knowing my sister has nothing to give hers. I will give. God did say He would bless those who give.” I nodded. 

That night I talked to Jason to see if we could help out as well. He agreed. Going through our closets I made a small stock pile of supplies. The next morning before she left I also added some money to Denise’s. 

Hours later she came back, glowing. Hearing her talk the words of Acts 20:35 came to mind: I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 

It was more blessed to give. 

Then as the weeks passed I watched how God blessed Denise, how God blessed us. More of Denise’s jewelry sold and God opened a door for her kids to learn French, something they need for their schooling. When we opened our monthly pledge report there was a list of new donors! Seeing them, I felt unworthy. I had done so little. 

And still I struggle; but then, in those dark moments of selfishness and impatience God’s Word gently reminds me, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18


  1. 7Thank you for the necessary reminder!! :)

  2. Thank you so much for opening your heart to us again.
    What an instruction you can provide as you point us back to God's Word.
    Thanks! Please remind us often.

  3. I really appreciated this post. This will be helpful to have on my mind when we're in Ecuador. Thankyou for sharing. Love following your blog.

  4. Thanks so much for your post Will. It is certainly humbling for me to see how good the Lord is to us and how reluctant I often am in being generous in giving of the bounty that the Lord provides. So we all need to learn that all is the Lord's and we are stewards of what He provides; indeed He has given His very life for us so that we can be reconciled to Him. He gave the ultimate sacrifice to please His Father- must we then not give what we can in HIs precious Name?

  5. Thank you for the openness in your thoughts. I needed to read this today. In love, LM