I write not from a place of arrival, but rather from a rest stop along the long journey to our final destination. The times of rest and renewal have sustained me along the path. Sacrifice has been a consistent guide post in my life, allow me to explain, as this may not seem to be the correct correlation of these terms. I have often felt closest to God in worship, in corporate prayer, and in one on one conversations with a few people along the journey. Most would probably consider me to be quiet, shy, soft spoken, introverted, introspective, and non-social. Somewhere along the way connecting with people in the way that most are used to has surpassed me. If there is something that I can say without a doubt that I am bad at, it would be connecting with new people and having long conversations with people. It is just something that I have consistently struggled with.
Back to the examples of sacrifice as guide posts. Many of my summers growing up were spent fundraising and going on short term missions trips around Central America. While many of the people I knew were working summer jobs I was serving in the way I felt called. I was faced with one of the greatest Sacrifices in my spiritual journey in 2007 while in Central America my little sister was swept into the undertow of the Ocean and drown. This occurred in the middle of a two month trip that I was on to Panama.
In my heart I felt that after the funeral I had to return to the nation of Panama to complete my trip, there was a decision that I made on that second half of the trip to fight through feelings and serve the Lord in whatever way I felt He was calling me. The next four years after that trip I spent learning how to trust God through difficulties. I spent my mornings in Bible school classes, my afternoons on outreaches, and my weekends traveling to churches, leading worship, helping at children’s services, and doing work projects. In this season my family went through some challenging circumstances that are hard to understand or reason why, my parents divorced, my baby sister got pregnant, two of my younger brothers were in and out of jail for drugs and alcohol addiction, it seemed that there was always something going on at home.
Toward the end of my time in Bible school I was drawn to some missions work in Haiti following the earthquake in January 2010. I spent the following four summers in Fonds Parisien, Haiti at a missions base helping with disaster relief and food distribution. The first 21 days in 2010 were possibly the most challenging I have ever experienced. Our goal was to dig a water line about two feet deep and several hundred feet long from a water tower to where bunk houses and an area for short term missionaries to live was being constructed. There were four of us guys working on this in the middle of summer in the middle of an open field. If you know at all about the landscape in Haiti, several hundred years of mismanagement has left the land mostly a barren rock with a few thorn bushes and some dust on top for a large portion of the land.
In that season of ministering in Haiti what sustained me the most was worship, and church services at a children’s facility named C.A.D. also a home established by Eve Rose, a Haitian lady who has impacted the lives of countless children by her open arms and trust in the Lords provision.
When I left after five trips to Haiti I knew that we had made some impact in this nation, but I also felt like the battle had not been won in many ways, that somehow it was not enough, I saw deficiencies in the work we had done, and as if something was lacking. I feel that some day I may go back, because there is so much love that the Lord has left to show the people of Haiti through his sons and daughters.
Through the relationships that I made in Haiti I started ORU and met a pastor that works in South Dakota with some of the poorest people in the United States. I went with this new friend to Pine Ridge, SD for the first time in 2014. The mark in my heart for this place was created in the friendship with one family in particular and a couple of Pastors who spend their afternoons with a bunch of kids in a basketball gym.
There isn’t a practical Americanized reason for my continued focus on this place and these families, only the father heart of God could create such a burden and a desire to visit this community time and time again. I go with one purpose, to serve my friends and the Lord in whatever way that I can for as much time as I have with them, until my next trip to see them.
In all of the experiences and all of the traveling, fundraising and trusting God for provision has never become easy, many times it has taken working odd jobs and through personal sacrifice to keep going to reach out to friends and those who have so much less than I have been given. There is questioning of why keep going, and how is this making a difference, yet I feel the father heart of God whisper that it is worth it, even if you cannot see why, these sacrifices are worth it.
I have other battles in my heart that are still being fought and answers that I have prayed for years and not heard direction for, yet I continue to do what I know that I can and trust the Lord with the rest.