I leave Haiti tomorrow. My time here has flown by more quickly than I had anticipated. I have enjoyed so many things and learned so many things yet there is so much I am leaving and so very much still to learn. I have learned most assuredly that as I come to new revelations, I realize how much I still have to learn about life, people, myself, and God.

In the past I have questioned the effectiveness of short term missions. I could not see myself being able to have a great enough impact on local people from another country that I only interact with for a week or so? Being here I see language and culture barriers keeping me from being effective in communicating well with local people. But now I have seen that I am not here to change the world all by myself. To be effective is to be one piece of the puzzle and do that with excellence and love. Really, short term missionaries are meant to encourage and refresh long term missionaries. The missionaries here are in life and death situations every day. They have to deal with conflicts and stresses most of us never even think of. Such as dealing with petty theft and the strange legal processes that require time and energy and cultural sensitivities. You have to think about strange things that in the states you never would, like will this kill me or endanger my family and those are daily decisions because you are in dark places with little to protect you. Imbedded missionaries deal with a lack of support from home, misunderstandings, loss of finances, friendships, and a loss of some sanity. Like if I have to hear the pig noises I am hearing right now in this heat for much longer I will lose my sanity too! Long term missionaries are the ones changing the places they are in and they are doing it together. They are being the best piece of the puzzle they are called to be and understand that they would not be effective doing everything all by themselves. They could stay busy striving and counting a whole bunch of heads to have large numbers to boast about, but they would not be effective, they would not last, they would not survive, and God would receive less glory.

I see the appreciation and passion rise up in missionaries here when they see someone come and care for them, recognize their struggles and validate their efforts with words of love and hope. The length of time it typically takes, with regular discipleship, to rid a Christian here of voodoo and superstition is ten years. Ten years! And every day that local will have to stand up to their family and friends and trust God to protect themselves and their family rather than voodoo and superstition. I could never spend a month or year here and expect results that others could see a world away. The change is slow and often unseen even by those here. But I assure you there is change. Every act of love and obedient compassion here is making a difference. The missionaries here are making a difference and those around the world serving full time with their lives are making a difference. They need encouragement, not judgement. They need support and not criticism. They are people, not angels or perfect saints. They have given their imperfect lives to reach places that are not easy to reach, where progress is slow. Should we from a distance look and say "where are the results? what are you doing to prove God is at work?". Listen carefully, God is not concerned with our carnal need to see results, neither does God need us to ever prove to the world that He is God and that He is powerfully at work. The truth is that there are results, and God is powerfully at work. Especially in the small things, the ugly things, the weak things, and the long drawn out, hard fought mess of things. God is moving and working through imperfect people. Imperfect, messed up people are the only kind available. Please love and encourage long term missionaries and recognize the high value of encouraging them in person.

It has been a process for me to accept that the complete failures of my life have shown the goodness of God. But they absolutely have. The results of my weakness and pride being overcome by God's goodness and grace have been powerful and wonderful in my life. On the outside some may see only small changes or no changes at all, but my heart is changed. I praise and thank God for every ounce of pain I have endured, whether caused by myself or circumstances. I am thankful because I see better now when God is at work. My eyes are opened to Haiti and the people here. I hope to return and see my friends and students again. I am not called to Haiti long term now, but I am called every day and forever to love others and share the good news of Jesus. I have fallen in love more and more with discipleship and the humbling task of speaking truth to other men and them in turn revealing new truths that I need in my life. How amazing it is that God desires to use us to show His goodness and love. I remain in gratitude because of His powerful grace and present love. Pray for me please. Pray for those serving full time with their lives. Support those God puts on your heart. Give your time, money, and kind words. Hug a missionary, pastor, deacon, or anyone that loves Jesus and is living it out. Hugs are good, God is good, be loved today my friends.

Blessings and Peace,
Jonathan Edward
 

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