I have been confronted with a word in Haitian Culture that has wrecked me. I love the word awakening and maybe that is a better word than wrecked. I have been awakened to an idea that’s not new, but has been freshly impressed on my heart. I see awakenings as “the divine emergence of a truth or dream.” The truth of this Haitian idea is being used by God to change me. Okay, onto the concept.
The word is Shishe and here is the concept and connotation behind it: He who has the ability to give and doesn’t. If you have the ability to give, and you do not, you are a Shishe. As you can tell from this definition, the connotation of Shishe is all-negative. When someone acts like this consistently, there name is actually changed to Shishe.
Haiti is a very collectivist society, meaning that they share and see almost everything as common goods and the idea of family is very loose, crossing many boundaries that we here in North America would almost see as crazy and possibly enabling.
The word Shishe is not the only word or idea that causes me to stop in my tracks, the book of Acts does this to me constantly. I wonder if Haitians have a better grasp on Acts 2 and 4 than we, okay I, do.
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common… There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it all at the apostle’s feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32, 34-35)
Yes, I understand sustainability and the desire to not hurt while helping, but I also understand that the gospel is being tainted in the eyes of many collectivist societies, like Haiti, that better understand how the New Testament church operated.
Here is the question that haunts me. Here is the idea that I have been “awakened” to. Am I a Shishe? Do I hold too tightly to things that really aren’t mine anyway? Instead of asking, “How much should I give away?” the question is warped to, “How much of God’s property should I keep just to myself?”
The voice in my heart, which I think is coming from the Holy Spirit, keeps screaming at me at every turn: “Come on Feather, don’t be a Shishe!”
What does all this mean? Not sure yet… more to come. But I do know that my heart is being softened, the question is, is my grip on God’s resources softening as well?