let this be the year you get off the mat!
Hands down, one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever heard live was by Christine Caine at the Heaven Come conference I attended in May 2018. It was based off the verses in John 5:1-7 about the man who was healed at the pool of Bethesda. She nailed the topics of people being identified by their issues and how the church enables people to stay a victim. She highlights our responsibility to walk in our freedom and in choosing to walk with Jesus, we are offered healing, wholeness, victory and redemption. Christine highlights how most of us choose to remain in our circumstances because we don’t want to leave the comfort we find in being a victim.
With healing comes responsibility.
I listened to the message again two days ago as I felt it was her message and my taking on it was what I needed to share on this last day of the year. Heck, the last day of this decade! I remember leaving the conference that night after her message literally do karate kicks. I was so fired up! The image of the man who had been laying by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years was exactly how I find so many people in Haiti. Jesus offered this man by the pool healing, but he came up with an excuse as to why he was such a victim. He was unable to see Jesus in front of him and the gift of healing Jesus was offering him. Not that I’m Jesus, but every time someone comes to me looking for help, one hundred percent of the conversations start with, “mwen genyen yon ti pwoblem” – I have a small problem. What’s always most frustrating about these conversations is that no one ever comes to me with the solution to their problems. They expect me to solve them. And, disappointing to them, I don’t have that power.
What woke me up that night, after hearing Christine’s message, was the realization that we N E E D to stop feeding the victim mentality to Haitians as well. We need to stop showing up on their door fronts just to sit with them and pray with them. There’s a nearby organization to where I live that a few years ago was constantly sending their short term mission groups into our village of Simonette. I was working full-time on the balcony with artisans, so I had a front row seat to their walking around the village. There’s an elderly, blind woman who lives nearby and she spends most all of her days sitting on her front porch. I’ve only had a few interactions with her, but according to Webert, she’s a very strong Christian. But, these short term missionaries, who were obviously there to bring Jesus and change Haiti in a week, would always end up on her porch, praying over her. Knowing she was a strong Christian, with the ability to teach us more than we could probably teach her, kind of left the joke on them.
The point being, our mindset in short term missions is poor them and blessed us. By just walking by, maybe saying a cliche prayer, and maybe leaving a hand-out of a gift as we leave, does no help. All we do is keep the poor on their mat. We keep them paralyzed in the same position. We’ve done nothing to actually bring change to their positions or livelihoods.
I’ve seen short term missions come in and paint houses. These white saviors will paint so sacrificially, while the people who inhabit the home, sit there watching. Let’s just reinforce how poor and unable they are. The missionaries come in to pick up garbage and plant trees. What message are we really relaying when we do this? You’re dirty. You’re incapable of cleaning up after yourselves. I think it’s one of the least dignifying acts.
Do you know that the whole community comes together before big holidays to sweep the streets, trim the trees and clean their community up together? Those are my favorite days, seeing how these poor people are in fact not unable or paralyzed or incapable like we make them out to be.
There’s so many aspects in the way I’ve seen the North American church do short term missions that keeps the people we came to serve left only more handicapped. Our well-intended actions actually end up creating a culture of dependency, holding them to their mats.
We have just got to do better. It starts at home. The plague of being a victim and being identified by our issues reigns in the American church, too. Lets first deal with our issues before we go to the field. The most toxic of situations are when unhealthy people end up on the field; everyone ends up hurt in those situations. Let’s stop using the poor as a cover-up to our problems. Let’s be brave enough to say, “I’ve got my own issues that I need to deal with before I get into serving others.” Let’s stop the exploiting. Let’s stop capitalizing off their poverty for our own gains.
But, please, when it comes to missions, God show us ways for us to offer opportunity and healing and wholeness and prosperity to the ones we serve. Give us the ability to get over our selfish selves and bless us with the strength, energy and wisdom to best serve the ones you call us to love. May our actions leave them equipped, dignified and standing stronger. May our actions reflect who Jesus is. May our work point towards You. May our decisions mirror Your heart and compassion. May we create cultures of people relying on You, turning from their sinful ways, keeping each other accountable, and being authentic in who You created us to be.
May this be the year – the decade – we see captives set free and people healed from all of their issues. May we see you work miracles, believing whole-heartedly, that You are a God who reigns. A God who sees the suffering, injustice and corruption of the world and is working all things out for good. May we never lose sight of eternity.
Lord Jesus, give us the courage to make this year – this decade – the one that’s set apart from all the others. Humble us and give us the audacity to admit where we’ve gone wrong. Break the chains, God, for there are so many. Bless the seeds we are planting, blow us away with Your works and provisions. May we always give You the glory.
May this be the year – the decade – that vicious cycles are broken. Generational curses are crippled. Periods of corruption and oppression are ended.
May this be the year – the decade – that we finally choose to accept our invitation to a life of healing, victory, wholeness and redemption. May our eyes be opened to all that You are, to all that You did, and to all that You promise.
Go and listen to Christine’s message, it is so powerful.