Monday, October 8, 2012

Reflections from Port-au-Prince

I recently received this amazing letter from Ted Steinhauer, Managing Director of the Grace Center and Grace Mission near Port-au-Prince Haiti.

It was a solid reminder to me about our life here on the island. But it also made me think of your lives in the States, or wherever you call home.

 You can follow his blog here. [formatting mine.]

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem, 'Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children… Multiply! Do not dwindle away! Work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.’ ” (Jer.29:7)
Want to do some “unpacking?” (I love writing because I’m free to assume you’ve answered, “Yes!”)

What a shocker this “word from the Lord” must have been for the exiles! I can hear their protest.

“What! Unpack, build homes, plant, open businesses, marry, and have families—is this Babylon our home?” "They’re our enemy, for crying out loud!”

And then the straw that must’ve broken the old camel’s back –
“Work for the peace and prosperity of the city… Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” 
“Are you kidding me?” they must’ve exclaimed. “Why should we work to make things easier and better for our enemies; why should our welfare be tied to theirs?” 

We’d most likely have said the same thing –let’s face it, we actually do. 

Still, it sounds to me that regardless of our reasons for living in any particular location, we’re to help prosper the community we’re living in and even “…pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” It’s almost as if we’re responsible to God to get involved- sink roots, build homes, farm, trade, and establish commerce- in order to make ourselves an integral part of the community in which we live. 

We’re supposed to contribute to the community’s progress - spiritually, economically, and socially.

Wherever we may find ourselves; wherever God has called us to be—whether it’s to live, do mission work, ministry, make disciples-all of the above— we’re supposed to be assets. We’re supposed to live out God’s Kingdom in our respective communities. If we dig into this notion for a moment, we’ll find that it’s as scary for us as it was for them. (Hey, it’s not my counsel- it is God’s command!) But, I know He’s right, because the same God who sent the remnant of Israel into exile is the same God who directs world history and the lives of all who belong to Him – all believers.

Sadly, most of us don’t want to be part of community God’s way; in fact, we work hard at forming our own comfortable, relationally shallow, non-threatening communities. Nevertheless, like Israel in Babylon, we are where we are by God’s will and purpose for a specific time. During this time, we need to be the ones who have an influence on our communities; even bring them prosperity—we’re not to be influenced and prosper from them. But, putting this into practice—considering our short-term, out-of-sight/out-of-mind, send-money-from-a-distance-mindset—these attitudes build buildings - not relationships

With these mindsets, any God-ordained personal involvement, community-focused vision, or any long-term spiritual, economic, and social relationships is near impossible – 
without a change of heart.

If we would only take a lesson from Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—these men who took God’s message to heart and worked (through the reign of two Babylonian Kings) to prosper Babylon – they obeyed Jer. 29:7. The result— each of these kings publicly praised God in these words, 
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true and he is able to humble the proud.” (Dan. 4:37)
And King Darius:
“I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, His Kingdom will never be destroyed… He rescues and saves His people; He performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth…" (Dan.6:26 – 27).
Why don’t we trust and obey God? Allow Him to change our hearts from self-centeredness to the relational love of Jesus AS we work to influence and prosper the communities God has placed us in? Wouldn’t this glorify His name—show the world (as Daniel did) what true Kingdom of God community looks like? 

Why are so we afraid to break away from our traditional mission methodology that has created unsustainable dependency; the passing of poverty from one hand to another while doing very little to prosper the church and community?


Ted Steinhauer

1 comment:

Yvette said...

LOVE THIS!!!!! : )