There’s something we hear a lot at the Breathe Center in Haiti – and we cringe when we hear it.
Now, please hear that we do not cringe at Experience Teams, their members, and the amazing people that make up Breathe and this movement.
It’s more of the system underneath, the worldview that we carry, the thoughts and beliefs we have without even realizing it. It is for this very reason that we would consider writing a blog – because we carry things without realizing it….simply because another perspective has not been given.
Part of the heart of Compassion Corp is stretching, challenging, examining, and expanding worldview as well as moving more and more towards a biblical worldview – and it is with this heart that I engage in this topic. Let us, for the sake of the gospel, examine our unseen views and beliefs within our worldview and bring them into a biblical lens to interact with the world around us. This is part of the goal of Experience Teams as well – expanding worldview and getting more of a Kingdom perspective!
So with prayer and an ask for grace from you as the reader in what may be offensive, here it is:
“I just want to put them in my suitcase and take them home with me!”
Friends…I know this is meant in love. This is not meant in offense. This is not meant in white or American superiority. I know this is a phrase and not a literal thought out plan of how to put a child you have connected with in your bag to carry through security and take home.
In fact, I thought and said the same thing when I first came to Haiti on an Experience Trip! Mostly with my friend Davidson – who I am SO glad is with his loving mother 4 years later, thriving in a child sponsorship program and connected to his neighbor Pastor Samedy. His mother Nelsie was baptized by Pastor Samedy last year as she was connected to her local church….the journey has been a beautiful one to see her more empowered and hopeful over time, despite circumstances.
Here are four points to examine on what this statement has the potential to communicate on the values and beliefs hidden in our worldview:
1. The Family Unit
Very rarely, if ever, do we interact with orphanages and orphans with Experience Teams. Therefore, there is a mom, dad, aunt, grandmother – or likely a family unit of half a dozen people or more – who are day in, day out caring for this child. Loving them, sacrificing for them, searching daily for how to care for them. Praying for them, bathing them, wiping their forehead when it is sick with a fever. Cleaning up after them and teaching them life lessons to help them thrive within their culture. Dreaming of all they can be. The statement disregards the family and the mother who you may not meet because she was at market as the sun rose to work hard all day to provide for that very child you have developed a relationship with.
Instead: Do you engage with the family as a whole? I rarely hear people wanting to take the whole family home (although we do wish we lived closer the closer we get with families!). Instead, conversation turns to a healthier and more dignifying one – praying for that dad to heal and be able to work in his garden in order to provide for the family, praying for that mother and her boutique to get approved for the microloan, asking questions on if skills training or sponsorship exists to come alongside the family that you are glad the child has to grow up with. The heart of statements moves from removal to empowerment – a beautiful transition in worldview!
2. The Ugly American
If you have not heard the term “Ugly American,” Google can point you to all you need to know. This phrase is an easy “in” to start learning about ethnocentrism, voluntourism, and both accidental and purposeful ways that Americans can be rude and self-absorbed while around the world. I know that no one WANTS to be this stereotype – and that is why I point out the danger that this line can bring! First off – superiority and ethnocentrism comes off accidentally. The assumption is a better life (despite the idea that this strips a child of their home, family, and everything they know). Secondly –
Instead: What strengths does this child’s community offer? What potential is there? How can you be a learner in the week that you are in Haiti? How can you speak life, hope, and empowerment into lives if you are given the privilege to build relationships? Are you lifting up the local pastor you are partnered with, or the local youth that have huge potential to impact their communities and the children in them? There is a quote on my door – because I need reminded often – “What other countries want is humble Americans.”
3. Taking God Out of the Solution
Where is God in the statement, “I just want to take them home with me!”?
His sovereignty is absent. His perfect plan and purpose is lesser than our comfortable homestead in States and Canada. His love for that little one is “there”, but not as real as our fierce, in-your-face emotional love as those adorable eyes look up at us while reaching a hand up to hold onto ours. His timing is slow, His eyes missed this corner of the world.
Friends – we do not believe this in our hearts. That past paragraph is NOT our God. But it takes real examination and discipline to not process and talk this way…because it is the way our culture processes! Our culture does not read 2 Peter 3:9, it does not handle anxiety and fear and joy with “continual prayer” like Philippians 4:6 & James 5:13 teach us. Isaiah and the prophets of the Old Testament are not beautiful stories and pictures of a JUST God who WORKS for us and SEES and transforms…they are old, boring, dust-collectors to our culture.
Instead: We need to get over ourselves and somehow get it through our hearts and minds that prayer really is EVERYTHING in a movement. It is everything in transforming individuals, which transforms families, which transforms communities…and then the country…and the world. We get the honor and ridiculous opportunity to literally – without religious performance or waiting in line or having to “clean up” first – come before the Author of Time, Creator of the Universe, Lord of Heaven’s Armies – and talk. Ask. Wonder. Plead. Praise. Cry. Adore. This is the same One who stitched that child together, who planned them in their mother’s womb, and who continues to chase down and love a people who have spit on him. A people who keep grabbing for the reigns, the power. A people who – even in our intentions to HELP – keep forgetting Him and therefore hurting others with our kind intentions that forgot to start with Jesus. Friends…prayer is moving mountains here. I cannot imagine if we could dedicate to pray every time we are tempted to do it ourselves. The entire Bible is the story of His plan of restoration, transformation, redemption – of COURSE He will be the solution for Haiti and that little one’s future.
I hope that this has been an opportunity to examine and expand worldviews – with the gospel as the goal! The gospel always seeks to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10), and the more that we do this to those we meet on Experience Teams, the more the gospel gets to shine!