This posting first appeared on respirelavi.wordpress.com from our CPR-3 Partner on the ground, Amanda Damon.
Love your neighbors…it’s a concept that we have all been taught whether we are Christ followers or not. We hear it in school, “Do to others what you would want done to you.” We hear it in church, ” Love your neighbors as yourself.” We hear it from our parents when we are having issues with friends; “Kill them with kindness…” We hear it a lot.
This concept is ALL over scripture as it’s the second greatest commandment. Mark 12:31 and Luke 6: 27 say to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us and there are a dozen more references like this that command us to love others. This is not always easy though is it? We have enemies, we have people who we don’t like, we have people who have hurt us, and there are people who are just plain difficult to love, let alone like.
This command in Scripture came alive to my husband and I in the last few months as we by our neighbors in Haiti. We live in the heart of a community in Haiti. We LOVE living in the community and being neighbors with those who we are called to serve, but it isn’t always easy being the “rich American neighbors” in a community
that is full of poverty and need. We have had neighbors who don’t understand completely the purpose of ”why” we are there and “why” we can’t give EVERYONE in the community a job. This breeds hatred and distrust in their hearts and has ended in threats to us and damage to our property.
This is one of those circumstances where it could be hard to love our neighbors and believe me, we wrestled with “how” do we love them best? We have come to the conclusion that open communication is the first step. We have had to explain to our neighbors why we are in Haiti and that we are here to love and serve them, but that we aren’t an endless supply of resources for them. We have spent quality time with our neighbors showing them that we DO care about them and that we are NO better than them. Let me give a quick story to help you understand where I am coming from.
A few weeks ago we had a neighbor who did not like us because we could not give them a job right now. He said some pretty harsh things and did some things that could have really frightened us. We decided that communication NEEDED to be had with this particular man and his family. We approached them, explained our hearts, our vision, and our purpose for serving in Haiti.
Afterwards, things calmed down a little. We began stopping every day to talk with them and found out that they wanted to learn English. I teach an English class 2 days a week in the community, but they wouldn’t come, so my husband and I decided we would go over to their house a few days a week to teach them privately. This has opened so many doors with them and has built trust slowly but surely. They look forward to our visits, ask about our baby, and have even become ‘friends.’
The other day, one of the women of the house gave me an umbrella to walk home with because it was raining. She now cares for us because she sees we care for her. One
of our workers who helps around our house asked me the other day, “Amanda, why do you and Jordan go over there, you know they don’t like you?” I responded with a smile and said, “Yes, we know, that is exactly WHY we do go over. We want to show them love.” He was confused by my response and responded by cautioning us. We aren’t worried because we have the BEST example in Christ of someone who DIED for those who hated Him; yet He chose to serve and die for their punishment. This is not easy, please pray for us as we continue to learn to love our neighbors, that Christ’s love would shine through us and that we can continue to plant and water seeds in their lives. We know that we might not see a harvest, we know that they may decide to “reject” our love, so pray that we will withstand whatever is thrown our way. Pray that we might LOVE our neighbors as we pray the same for you.
Amanda Damon serves in Haiti with her husband Jordan. They are expecting their first child this summer. You can read more from their ministry at respirelavi.wordpress.com