Intake

Every once and a while, I’ll tune into what is topping the charts in the US/Globally.

And wow.

You see, one of the unique opportunities in being international long term, or even for an extended period like with Compassion Corp, is a removal from so many things we don’t even think of.

See: singing in the car.

Not just the breathe easy, embrace your freedom awesomeness of the independent ability to get to any point B you want from any point B that you choose – all alone! – but also that therapeutic belting of whatever the radio has to offer.

This is stripped along with ability to travel independently once you move.

So, back to the unique opportunity of removal….when those car rides are taken away, and that radio time is taken away, and possible keeping up at all with new music is taken away…if and when you DO get the opportunity to tune in, it is not a mindless activity.

From artist names to the way that beats are compiled and finally, to the lyrics. You pay closer attention, and instead of naturally singing the lyrics that everyone knows, you need to listen to them and learn them to catch up.

Or, you aren’t automatically memorizing lyrics anymore – you are listening intentionally for a change as it’s new music, and you’re trying to soak up and re-learn the culture you came from. You aren’t trying to memorize lyrics, but you are still filtering them word by word into your mind to soak up “home”.

And like I said, wow.

I think that we can all agree that it isn’t rocket science that everyone is worshiping something. Also not rocket science that relationships or a million other things can replace ultimate love, or whatever we are yearning to fill us. Of course this culminates in pop music. Especially since pop music isn’t necessarily trying to be deep (side note: Christian rap is killing it lately as far as substance and music coming together. Just sayin’. I’d be happy to recommend an artist or five.) – it’s no surprise that music isn’t sending messages that are truly filling.

But y’all….there are some seriously CLEAR messages being sent in music. Lines belt out what could be worship music if you changed the context of the song.

“say you’ll never let me go

“you were my everything

“so hold me, wrap me up, fill up my cup…cause I’m hollow”

“you were my courage, my sword and shield, grace under pressure, wall of steel”

But the problem is…..it’s about fame – self – or a significant other. One song talks about the only thing in life being needed is a good beat to dance and forget about the world all night. A girlfriend is described like the glue that holds the universe together.

Y’all. This is dangerous.

And I think that’s the only reason I wrote this. I think we all just need to be reminded sometimes…we are surrounded by so many messages. Dangerous ones.

Now, I’m not against a romantic line. And the big action step to react is not turning off the radio for the rest of forever. But friends, too many people are not filtering songs to recognize that a girlfriend is not actually what holds the universe together. Your strength, courage, and grace under pressure cannot be the person sharing your bed. Freedom, TRUE soul fueling freedom, is not experienced in rebelling against mainstream culture or a night on the dance floor without cares. It is not healthy in any way to be “lost”, “faded”, out of purpose, out of strength…based on something on this earth that you can gain or lose.

And I, for one, am SO tired of seeing Twitter, Insta, and real life conversations FULL of people whose emotions are swinging on a pendulum like the artists on the radio – based on having “them” or “that”. It’s exhausting on emotions to see people with so much potential SO chained to the temporary, and not seeing how they have wrapped their existence up into literally what accumulates to a big ol’ nothing.

We need to not fear danger – but recognize it and suit up accordingly. Activate our minds and pay attention to what messages are hurled at us all day long.

We were meant for bigger things.

“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.”  Hebrews 11:39-40

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Why I’m Excited About Our Pastors

“They ask what denomination we are as we come in and visit, getting to know people”, Pastor Mackenzy tells me as I get to know him and his heart for the new community that he is working in.

“I respond to them and say that I do not follow religion, I cannot answer their question. I follow Jesus. We are not here to bring more religion to the community, we are here to bring Jesus to the community.”

Images are conjured in my mind as I listen, like a contrast between old black and white media versus high-definition pictures with colors bursting from all sides. Cutting straight to Jesus is a fresh, cold water that we could get used to in what is compared to as a dry and weary land.

This is what I believe in. This is why I am so excited about ORLA (Oganizasyon Respire Lavi) – the pastors and their movement. I used to know we planted churches and believe in it, but now my heart skips and I sit closer to the edge of my seat, getting closer to listen in.

Because we are talking about a community that is “thirsty for the gospel” (translated exactly by those in the community) –

A community that already has at least three churches.

The problem is not a lack of people gathering, a lack of Sunday services, or a lack of aspiring pastors. The problem is the gospel is missing.

Cash talks and his voice gets higher as he speaks, his body language shows that his heart is in the conversation the more we get on the topic of the gospel. “The gospel, the real gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ!”

I wish that a community with existing churches was not described as thirsty for the gospel.

But I believe in these pastors, hearts bleeding on their sleeves, and their passion – their NEED – to get the real gospel to people who have literally said that they are waiting for it.

These pastors talk about their own questions,

Why aren’t people going to church?

Why do the few that go, spend money they do not have to travel over 15 minutes away (which is far when you’re talking public transportation that makes it almost an hour away and the idea that it is multiple “communities” away)?

People are being shamed. “Sinners” are called out or outcast. It is a hard, never-feel-like-you’ve-arrived-so-keep-breaking-your-back message of salvation. Freedom and rest are not mentioned. And I am SURE that these churches do not set out this way! They do not WANT to be uninviting, they do not WANT to put heavy yokes on people, the do not WANT to not give the gospel justice. But we are human, and it has happened.

And it is for this reason that people are saying to Mackenzy, “fè vit, pastè” – “Please come quickly, pastor. Do not hold back in getting the message you are spreading here.”

I dream of the day where redemption comes to us all, for us to understand the gospel as it was meant. For us to live from freedom, victory, and rest. For us to understand what we keep twisting with our human processing of the world. To see our sweet Jesus as He has already shown us – but that we forget.

This is a step of redemption, and it is why I am so excited about this church planting movement. “Thirsty” for the gospel? Let the living water come in.

What an honor to sit at the table with these pastors, giving their lives in a way I’ll never understand.

There’s something different.

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but it’s not just me – people have commented on it and been processing through it. “Veterans” who have been here more times than you’ve thought of coming to Haiti, and those who stepped off the plane for the first time just days ago.

It’s a good different. The kind of “different” you wouldn’t notice or even get to be a part of without putting some time in.

We are still babies when you think of how long we’ve been here – I’m at almost three years and it’s been said that for someone in international work, five years is when you can say you are no longer “wet behind the ears”. But I can’t deny that there is something different – which is a surprise that both encourages me and only points back to Him choosing to do something with the nothing we have to offer.

I’m surprised because this very slow work is simultaneously moving quickly, in the context of how deep and wide what we are working at is.

Relationships, trust, new cycles, a fresh way of thinking, deeper conversations, a better understanding of the gospel than the broken “you need to be good enough for Jesus” false message that can pop up in churches all over the world. The way a teenage girl reacts to a stranger popping up in her neighborhood for the week. Open conversations about topics that no one else will talk about. Parents who smile and engage as opposed to stay back and watch with eyes trying to discern visitors – or already dismissing them before giving a chance.

  • My favorite teenage mother coming over just to be with other women in the house, asking them questions out of curiosity about what is “okay” in church, and if she is welcome based off of certain criteria (Sidonie, our cook, vehemently says that there is nothing that can make you “not okay for church” – love her!). She’s being drawn into environments – not just this one, also Young Lights and church youth events and peer circles – that are not typical for her. She’s asking questions. She’s embracing opportunities given to her and working hard – and trusting me enough to not be pushed away when I challenge her to do better (because I know she can). Her son, by the way, also ADORES her.
  • There’s mutual learning, listening, teaching, and conversation going on. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many one way conversations in the past (specifically when two cultures come together)…but I am seeing less and less now. And within this, I am seeing people show up more often, speak up more often, open more of themselves up…and everyone has the opportunity to grow more. I saw this in a seminary this week for example – one where everyone say in a circle and broke down power dynamics.
  • Relationships that in the past would easily be put in the “they want an American friend” category – are different. I am seeing more and more true relationships. Chal is one of our best friends (including making weird sounds from house window to house window at night since he is a neighbor), ‘C’ comes to truly just BE in community and talk about life, people that have left me in the past like ‘A’ after a material benefit (or lack thereof) are showing back up without the “I expect ___ from you” factor…instead coming for real friendship. Being here longer is making a difference as people see – “yo pa prale”. “They aren’t leaving.”
  • Neighbors are NEIGHBORS. You can just feel it. Now….this sounds basic – until you have lived in a cross cultural neighborhood, and you are the outsider, and there’s a lot of baggage with your nation towards the country you are in.
  • Instead of being brushed off when Jesus comes up, there is real conversation, engagement, thought put into what we are saying, and more and more heart change as a result. This is huge. This is WHY all the other ones matter. It is NOT quick to be taken seriously for faith – not the deep issues – to outsiders that don’t “get” what it is like to be a local church attender from age 0 – present. This. Is. Huge.
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I thew this up on Insta this week with the caption “This is why”. That wasn’t me being fancy with my words – that’s legit. This is why – and look at what God is doing with it!

These are the differences that we are giving our lives for, where Jesus is coming in. These are the differences that you can’t really put a word to…a simple paragraph does no justice. These are the differences we are seeing.

Praise Jesus, and Jesus alone.

The light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness cannot distinguish it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can

I can trust Him with every act of obedience that doesn’t make sense with what I can see in front of me. I can trust him with my whole heart, every piece handed over to Him.

These are incredible things.

Especially when you factor in, “When we are faithless, He is faithful”.

I can trust Him with every single step that feels risky when it’s His hand that waved me over and motioned to start walking.