I’m thinking of a wonderful, wonderful soul that I get to see around a few nights a week because he is a leader in Young Lights. Soft spoken with the biggest smile around, he gets loud when he starts talking about dreams and vision. Leadership. Potential. Being different.
Zoom out for a sec: We may talk all day or see t-shirts in every design talking, “Hope 4 Haiti” – but the truth is, the Haiti dream is usually to get out. Fly to another country, find opportunity there. People talk about doctors, lawyers, technicians, leaders, creatives….they leave. Sometimes with plans to come back – and then, some times, those people really do. I have so much respect for those that stay, or for those who come back. Pastor Chelo is one of the people that came back – he did not have to.
Those who stay back – and those who leave as well – LOVE being Haitian. They love the pride of nationalism, they sing the songs and wear the colors on Flag Day….but typically, they are also frustrated by Haiti. The leadership. The deep, tangled mess that is systemic poverty. The theft and looking out for yourself that somehow simultaneously exists in a culture with so much sharing and looking out. The lack of trust. The small groups that make problems for the majority with the way they handle their frustrations through road blocks or other forms of protest. “Where there is no vision, the people perish”….well, there are times this is felt. I can’t tell you how many gourde I’d have by now if I was handed one every time I heard, “Gade yon peyi….” (Basically – “Look at this country…” in a frustrated way)
Now that you have that background – let’s zoom back in to my friend. The one who hugs me with joy, who shows up early, who doesn’t let leadership slips slide…because he believes in a standard BECAUSE something is being built.
He has so much vision for Haiti. For himself, for those around Him, for his community, for His country.
So. Much. Vision.
With passion. With dreams. With creativity. With invitation extended to others. With ACTION.
And I was thinking about how much I appreciate him, how much I respect him, how encouraging he is to me. How different he is.
And then I thought….I wonder what it was?
I wonder what he picked up and where, what he has listened to in his life? Likely, some of it was without those around him even knowing he was paying attention. Or he was small and distracted – the kid you are rolling eyes at in your head or that you are half-invested in cause honestly it’s hot and they have a lot of energy and yours is limited. How many people talked passionately about the ability for ANYONE – “including YOU” – to be the change to that little boy who has now turned to a young man?
Did he have the same smile then, or did he develop it later?
Was his heart still as big then, with his whole face transforming at YOUR bad news that troubles him? Or was he softened by the gospel and traits like being burdened alongside others came later?
Who introduced the gospel to him in such a light that he is so on FIRE? Who showed him something in life that has him messaging me, biting at the bit to pour into more people and start something for the NEXT generation, since he already is a part of his generation doing things?
Who modeled that to him?
Who spoke words in him for what they see in him?
Heck – who got him here with nutrition to develop and enough shelter, food, and clothing to HAVE the freedom to have vision or the energy and passion to look outward to others?
It makes me think of the kids today.
The crowds where no one is listening (it seems).
The time poured in, poured out, poured all over the place. The mundane – that becomes bigger when you realize day by day has turned to year by year.
Who KNOWS who the next visionary is.
Did the ones who were a part of my friend’s story know? Do they have a clue now?
Makes me think of some Elisabeth Elliot, as she quoted Lilias Trotter.
She writes, “God may use…the things that He has wrought in us, for the blessings of souls unknown to us…God only knows the endless possibilities that lie folded in each one of us!”
Elisabeth says later after quoting some more of Trotter – “I am one of those souls unknown to Lilias Trotter, blessed by her surrender and sacrifice…”
And Elisabeth – who I have never met, and never will this side of creation as she passed away not too long ago – wrote that in the preface of one of her many books (A Path Through Suffering) that has been a gem to this weary heart as I am now an unknown soul to both of these women. And so it goes.
Now, Lilias Trotter was talking actually about our suffering leading to unknown possibilities for others unknown to us. But really – isn’t even just continuing to show up a way of suffering some times? Not to be melodramatic, but our culture already is with suffering. Any selflessness is an inconvenience, and quickly boiled down to a form of suffering (even if we are only thinking it).
So yes, 45 minutes of intentionally going deeper than JUST babysitting when you have a room of younger people with you can be called suffering. At least for the western audience of 2016 that would read this blog. Or maybe the time torn away from your phone and into face-to-face time with a sibling. Possibly preparing, working, planning, sacrificing, and fighting to be on a team that stands with others and looks community members in the face, claiming “This space CAN be transformed, and you WILL be the one able to do it!”
But this suffering, or whatever you want to call it as we move past Lilias Trotter’s point of suffering and more to the heart……
We have no idea.
YOU have no idea.
The next counter cultural visionary just may be able to trace it back to you one day.
I don’t know who it was, but SOMEONE was the crimson cord for my friend.
What a thought, right? If you met him, you’d know why it’s so crazy. Just trust me when I say that as your jaw dropped and your eyes couldn’t move off of his passionate speech of transforming spaces and a new country and a generation with purpose, you would be amazed at even just the THOUGHT that you could be the puzzle piece that pours into someone else that is going to do the same thing one day.
Keep showing up.
“Shall we not go all lengths with Him in His plans for us…?” – Lilias Trotter