Friday, June 10, 2011

And so it ends...

Well, friends, it would be seem we have to come to the end of this little adventure. I find myself once again dealing with the pain of goodbyes, culture shock and readjusting to life in America. My story has come full circle but I am far from where I started. These last five months were a time of intense spiritual growth,  plenty of new experiences and where I did a lot of growing up... They have taken my relationship with God to a whole new level and woken me up to come to an even greater understanding of how much more there is in this world than just me.
Being home has been both unbelievably amazing and surprisingly difficult. I've loved being with my family again, sleeping in my own bed, eating home-cooked meals... But at the same time,  I feel somewhat lost without the people who have been my family these last five months and the structured, busy daily schedule that YWAM provided. Tomorrow, I leave on yet another (much)short(er)-term missions trip with my church to Pelican Rapids in Minnesota. I will be helping to lead a small group, working in the kitchen, and will be part of an evangelism team that will be ministering to the Hispanic and Somali communities nearby. After I get back, I will start work and will be working through the end of July here in Minnesota. In August, I head out East for a family reunion and then make my way to Miami University of Ohio where I will be studying Journalism.
Before I wrap this up, here are a few pictures from my time in Haiti to give you all an idea of what it was like:
One of the hundreds of tent cities in Port-au-Prince

One of the many beautiful faces of Haiti

At the orphanage in Port-au-Prince

Doing laundry by hand... a pretty exciting skill :) 

Piles of rubble were everywhere in the capital.

Maxsteeve, Valencia, Samantha and their Mom

One of the villages outside Gonaives

Painting- one of my newly acquired skills!

Preaching at one of the many churches we visited

And so it ends... This amazing chapter of my life has come to a close. Thank you so very much to all of you who made this possible through financial support, and to all of you who covered my time in prayer! I have loved every minute of this adventure with you- and a whole new sort of adventure is just about to begin...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Denouement

I write this sitting on an actual bed, in a spacious room in a massive guesthouse overlooking the beach, surrounded by all kinds of tropical trees, the sound of the Carribean sea crashing against the shore in the background. This, ladies and gentlemen is the finish line, a beautiful notion called debrief. It’s four days to do absolutely nothing but sleep, swim, tan, and process all that happened these last two months. It’s our reward for making it through all the ups and downs of outreach. Which means (though this has yet to really sink in for me) that outreach is in fact over.

Our last few days in Gonaives remind of me the final chapters of a novel, where we were fortunate enough to wrap everything up semi-neatly and bring closure to a lot of our various ministries.
We visited the local orphanage, home to probably fifty children ranging from infants to seventeen-year-olds one final time to say our goodbyes. While I realize I have not made mention of it before, this orphanage was one of our key ministries in Gonaives. We visited it at least once a week, ministering to the kids through bible stories, games and the universal language of football J Last week, we made our final visit out there to say our goodbyes and to give the children the soccer ball we had used as our primary means of communicating with them. It was sad to have to say goodbye, but the children were amazing examples to us of joy, their smiles never wavering despite the knowledge that they might never see us again.

I said goodbye to Iselanda and Tagina, two 10-year-old girls I had gotten to know first through the youth group we ministered at once a week, but really connected with once I offered to help them with their homework in the afternoons, during my lunch break. They started coming by a few days a week and I got to put my years spent in the French education system to good use as I helped them primarily with their French grammar and their math. As we worked, they told me about their families and I told them about mine. They were both uncharacteristically hard-working for 5th-graders and seemed to have a genuine love for Jesus that made them fun to be around. I will probably miss them the most out of all the people I met during my time in Gonaives.

We walked a few blocks to the house of our dear friend Olmise, who I believe deserves at least a paragraph in this blog (possibly even her own entry at some point). We met her on one of our prayer walks through the neighborhood. We had asked God to lead us to the people He wanted us to meet and we set out with no particular agenda other than to follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit. I felt led to stop at this one house where I saw a young girl I recognized, to talk to her and see how she was doing.  As we stood there, her older sister walked up and much to our surprise, spoke fairly good English. She introduced herself to us as Olmise, 22 years old, living in Port-au-Prince, “though I’ll be moving to Boston in August to go to University”. Surprised, I asked her which University (not that my knowledge of Boston colleges is that vast…) and she matter-of-factly replied “Harvard”. As it turns out, since she was a child she has wanted to go to medical school, but not just any medical school- the best school in the world. And as she put it, “I realized that my father is the King of Kings. I am a very important person! He can get me into Harvard and He can pay for it.” So in August, she will be attending Harvard on full-tuition scholarship. Until then, she will be working personally with the newly elected President in laying the groundwork for his time in office (definitely an answer to my prayers that God would place someone who deeply loved Him in power, to lay foundations of righteousness for this new era in Haiti’s history!). She even spoke at his inauguration ceremony a few weeks ago. Meeting her was such an encouragement and a blessing to us and while we will miss her, I have a feeling our paths may cross at some point…

One of the more difficult chapters we had to close was that of the hospital. While it was an optional ministry, we all opted to visit it one last time. For me, though I wasn’t sure how, I knew I had to find some sort of closure. In the hours leading up to our visit, I began dreading the thought of having to pray for people, my faith still hurt from the last time I had tried that. When I got there, I got the chance to speak to the head nurse and ask her some questions. I found out that a total of 9 nurses work there under the supervision of 1 doctor who comes by once a day to check on things. They have very little of anything: no sterilizing equipment, no disinfectants- not even rubber gloves! Not to mention defibrillators, oxygen machines or an operating room. The more I spoke to her, the more I realized that people didn’t come here to get well- they came here to die. When that realization sunk in, I knew what I had to do. I wasn’t there to try and convince God to keep these people from dying, I was there to make them smile, to keep them company, to show them that they weren’t alone. Because I could be the last person they talk to. So that’s what I did. I stopped trying to be the holy, woman-of-faith missionary I had been trying to be and I just hung out. I played tic-tac-toe with a boy with an infected leg wound, I chatted with a lady whose mom had a hernia and was on her deathbed, I talked with an old man with a respiratory illness… Everyone I talked to just seemed happy to have someone to be with. They didn’t need me to get a word of knowledge for them or pray some beautiful faith-filled prayer. The just needed me to sit with them. Which is what Jesus would have done.

Our last day in Gonaives, we climbed the mountain overlooking the city (which I could see from my bedroom window… pictures are forth-coming as soon as the internet allows) and had a time of intercession for the city of Gonaives and the country in general. From the mountaintop, we could see the whole city from the beach, home to the second-largest port in Haiti to the Catholic church in the town square, by far the largest structure in town. As I looked out over this place I had called home the last four week, I realize for the first time just how much I would miss it.

My time here in Haiti has been one of the craziest, most stretching, amazing times of my life. While I can’t wait to be home, a part of me will always belong to Haiti. I will never forget all the things I’ve seen here or all the things I’ve learned. Thank you for going on this adventure with me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It’s been three days since the hospital, three days for me to grieve, three days for me to think… God must have known we needed a break, because these three days have been fairly low-key, with ample free-time in between ministries, during which consequently, the internet has never worked for more than a few minutes at a time, leaving me nothing to do but read, think and journal.

I decided to write out a list of questions I needed God to answer. The way I see it, I can either be angry at God or angry with God. The nuance is a subtle one but I’ve come to learn it means the difference between bitterness and closure. Some questions came to nice conclusions, and others just led to more questions but they all led to this final question:

 Why am I involved in this? Where do I fit in? Why couldn’t she have died just before we got there of right after we left? Why did God time it so that we would be there to pray for her and then to see her die? I can only conclude that I was meant to be there, but this begs the question: why? I realized that first of all, I was there to be Jesus’ hands and feet in that moment. While I felt incredibly useless, just holding that child, patting the mother’s back and crying, I began to see that that is exactly what Jesus would have done had He been there physically. He showed me that I had loved that family the way He loved them, and in doing so, I had been a piece of Heaven on Earth in the midst of all that Hell.

But the second reason for me being there runs far deeper and has quite a few repercussions. This experience was a wake-up call for me to say the least. That girl died from something very treatable, very preventable: Anemia, a simple vitamin deficiency. Maybe I could have prevented it. There are all kinds of organizations working here to fight malnutrition (which happens to be the cause of 50% of children’s deaths here in Haiti. One in two children who die, die from malnutrition. Fun fact, huh?). Maybe if I had sent in a couple checks instead of buying a new pair of jeans, they would have been able to reach her. There are thousands of children just like her who die everyday from things that we could prevent. That I could prevent. God didn’t take her life. We did. This world produces enough food for every single human being to have 3000 calories to eat a day. Yet, a small percentage struggles with obesity and has so much surplus that much goes to waste while the rest of the world dies from things like Anemia. God was angry just like I was that day. He was angry that His little daughter died because His other creations hadn’t looked out for her.  Because we didn’t take care of her.

So then what if  the reason I had to be there was because God wants me to do something about it? Non-question. God wants me to do something about it. He wanted me to do something about it long before. Ever since Jesus came preaching heretical ideas such as “love your neighbor as yourself” and “take care of the needy and the afflicted”. I am beginning to see that He put me there because this is something He wants to commit to. This is a battle He wants me to fight, a journey He wants me to embark on.

And as this realization sunk in, the rest of the questions I had began to make sense. God is going to glorify Himself in this situation, and He wants to do it through me. God is going to redeem that girl’s death, and He wants to do it through me. Jesus said :  “unless a grain of wheat falls into the gorund and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24). If I go back home to suburbia and forget all about this, then that girl was just another child who died from malnutrition- just a number. But if I do something about it, if I let this story shake me and push me to make a change, then thousands of lives could be saved through her one death. That is redemption. That is bringing glory to God.

And so I find myself for the first time in my life with a purpose. This is why I am here. This is what I am supposed to do now. That girl’s story needs to be told. And when it is told, it will shock people the way it shocked me. Because she makes it personal.  She made this problem real for me and she will make it real for everyone who hears it. She made me want to do something and she will make others want to do something. So I will tell her story. I will start here, with this blog and I won’t stop until something changes. I will tell as many people as I can in hopes that together we can redeem her death and actually make a change.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Let the little children come to me...

I prayed for her: healing, blessing, energy, life. I layed my hands on her and prayed for her the way Jesus said I should. I prayed in His name. I prayed in faith.
And now she is dead.
I held her hand, and now that hand is stiff and cold. I looked into her eyes- her beautiful, young brown  eyes and now those eyes are glazed over, staring off at something I cannot see. I prayed for her and she was alive- sick and lethargic, yes- but alive. And not one hour later, a group of women ran down the hall to get me, to tell me that she was dead.
They led me to the hospitable bed where she lay- a tiny body amply covered by a small bedsheet.  I looked at the small lump that I knew to be her body , trying to make my brain understand the cold, harsh truth. My mind was numb as I found myself peeling back the grey sheet. I knew in my head what I would find, but nothing could have prepared me for the shock it was to look upon the  body of a child that one hour ago was full of life and now was just an empty shell. Nothing could have prepared me for the wave of nausea that came over me as those brown eyes stared up at me, half-blinking, lifeless and reality finally hit me.  Dead. This little girl was dead. The last time I looked at her, she was alive. And now she is dead.
Her mother and her sister’s wails broke through the shocked silence and brought me out of my daze. I scooped up the sobbing little girl- too young to even understand why she was crying- and held her close. I put my arms around the young mother and the grief sunk in.
This mother’s child was dead. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. I couldn’t even think. I just sat there holding the child on my knee and patting the mother’s back. A small crowd had gathered at the doorway to see what I would do. I was the missionary, God’s annointed white person- perhaps I ought to try and raise her from the dead? Hah. Please. I couldn’t even pray for her to be healed from something as simple and cureable as Anemia. I was the last person in the world who could raise someone from the dead.
I didn’t know what to do, what to say. Surely, I must do something. They were all expecting me to do something! As soon as the child died, they had run to get me. But all I could do was sit there and sob. I was supposed to be the missionary, God’s servant of great faith. But in that moment, I had no faith at all. I didn’t know what to pray. I didn’t think I could pray. But my heart cried out without words to a God I couldn’t speak to. And I heard in my soul, the words of Jesus: “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven”.
In my last post, I wrote about how God reveals the Kingdom of Heaven to us through the beauty of nature and the witness of other spirit-filled believers, even in the darkest of circumstances, in the strangest of ways. I knew then that with whatever faith I could muster, I had to believe that this too was a revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven: Jesus bringing a little child to Himself. I had to somehow believe that he had been merciful enough to take her out of this cruel  and fallen world and was right now holding her on His lap, showing her true love and joy for the first time.
I had prayed for her to be filled with life and energy and now she is. Now she has life in abundance, a life where she will never again feel the pang of hunger, where she will never know sorrow or guilt or loneliness. True life being lived the way God planned it to be lived.
Despite the peace that comes from this, there is no denying that my faith has been rocked. I don’t understand how this 2 year-old girl’s death is glorifying God, how this girl’s death is bringing those around her a deeper revelation  of God’s love, how this girl’s death is bringing heaven on Earth. I don’t understand why, if I have all the authority that Jesus had, she died instead of being healed. Jesus said that I can ask anything in His name and it will be mine. How can that possibly prove to be true in light of what happened today? I don’t understand how God was more glorified through her death than He would have been through her healing. He could have healed her, He could have spared her family so much grief, He could have spared me all this doubt and anguish. But He didn’t. I’m not certain where to go from here. How can I be expected to pray for another sick person in faith believing that they will be well? I prayed for this little girl. And now she is dead.
I am doubting. How can I not doubt? I refuse to sweep this under the rug, and polish it over with the pretty excuse that God’s ways are higher than ours. My heart it a little bit broken, I am still wiping tears from my eyes.  I deserve to question, I deserve to wrestle with this. And I know that ultimately, it is good for me to doubt. Because, ironically enough, this is the only way my faith can grow. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A glimpse of Heaven

Jesus spoke of a kingdom where everything functions exactly as God planned, where God’s will is done, where we can have perfect communion with God. He called it the kingdom of Heaven, and he said that it was right here, right now. His disciples never seemed to get what He meant by that, and while we know it to be true, it is a concept that we have failed to grasp as a church. In Matthew 13, He says that "To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven". What Jesus was trying to make us understand is that Heaven is not just something we can look forward to, as followers of Christ, after we die; it is something we can dwell in right now, right here. No matter where we are in the world.

I’ve thought about this notion before but never really got my head around it until a few days ago. Our team went to visit a Voodoo compound to pray over it and to minister to the people living nearby. We were told it was a very dark place and to be prepared for spiritual attacks and the like. So while I wasn’t afraid, I was expecting to return tired and worn thin from an afternoon under the spirit of oppression.

On our way to the compound, we pulled over so that Pastor Mola (the base director here in Gonaives, our guide and translator) could point out a few trees along the road that are believed to be the home of powerful spirits and are often used in Voodoo rituals. He explained that the locals greatly revere these trees and to damage one would bring the wrath of the evil spirits on your family. But as I looked at those trees, hundreds of years old, with broad trunks extending high into the heavens, covered in leaves green with life, all I could see was the majesty of God. And I had an overwhelming sense that God wanted us to know that though these trees may be used for wicked things, they are still His creation. He made these trees for us to enjoy, and to declare His glory. In that moment, staring at an object of witchcraft, I felt God’s presence.

We drove on, and as we approached the compound, a man began to follow our truck, limping. I didn’t know why but as I looked at him, I had a feeling that he was someone of great faith, and watching him trudge along behind us made me smile. I knew we had to talk to him.

We parked in front of the compound (from the outside, nothing more than a cluster of houses surrounded by a wall) and the man stood near us, but didn’t approach us. We said hi and introduced ourselves. He told us his name was Jean-Claude. He was tall and lanky, his clothes swallowed his thin frame. His right hand was crippled, the fingers swollen and twisted. We asked him if he wanted us to pray for him. He replied yes, to pray for God’s anointing on him to heal other people.

I was quite taken aback by this request. He had not asked for healing for his own deformities but the ability to heal others! The more time we spent with him, the more I felt the Spirit pouring from him. His faith and joy were so contagious, I was overwhelmed by them! Our team prayed a blessing and anointing over him, per his request, that he would be a light in a dark place and that the would bring Christ’s healing power with him everywhere. He then turned around and prayed for us, anointing us, and began grabbing the attention of passers-by, inviting them to hear us witness and receive prayer from us.
As we left that place that was supposed to be so dark, I felt more refreshed than when we arrived! This man was so spirit-filled, it was almost like being in God’s presence. Strike that- we were in God’s presence. In a Voodoo compound.

Our truck came to a stop on the side of the road. I looked up at the clouds, swirls of pink and grey against a blue sky, the sun beginning to dip behind the mountains, and I could no longer contain myself. I lifted my face to heaven and my soul began to sing. I was enjoying perfect communion with God, so full of Him and aware of Him I thought I might burst. I was in Heaven. Literally.

In that moment, nothing was fallen or broken, nothing was separating me from God. It was a moment that can only best be described as holy, a moment where I knew that this was how God created life to be. It was Heaven. On Earth. In Haiti, a country cursed for 200 years. Outside a Voodoo compound, on the side of a dusty dirt road.

And it hit me like a gust of wind to the face that the kingdom of heaven has been here all along. It’s everywhere. It isn’t just in Cathedrals or on pristine beaches or in between the pages of a book. It’s on dirt roads in fourth-world countries in villages devoted to witchcraft.

In that moment, I caught a glimpse of Heaven, and I realized that nothing in the landscape had shifted, but somehow, my eyes had been opened- if for but a second- and I was able to see things as God had created them to be. As a missionary, my job is not to bring the kingdom to the places I go. My job is to see God’s kingdom and to help others see it. He has been here all along. That’s the good news. And because of Jesus, Heaven is something I can dwell in right now, and anywhere.

"But blessed are your eyes because they do see and your ears because they do hear" (Matt 13: 11)

Monday, May 2, 2011

An update :)

I realize that my last few posts have been more on the pensive, reflective side so I decided I ought to do a good, old fashioned, informative update today.

Port-au-Prince: Tent cities, orphanages and construction.

It is easy to see how the capital could have once been a prosperous city, but now, even a year after the earthquake, it is defined by piles of rubble and tents. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed during the earthquake and even more were left completely homeless, their simple houses reduced to a pile of rubble. The only solution found by the Haitian government and aid organizations was to bring in tents to house these families until proper homes could be rebuilt for them. This was only ever meant to be a temporary solution but now these tents have become a permanent part of the landscape. Parks, plazas and soccer fields have become the permanent residence of a huge chunk of the city’s population. These tent cities have some of the worst living conditions imaginable: families crammed into a tent (usually nothing more than a tarp tied over some wooden poles), sleeping on the ground, with no running water or electricity, and certainly no bathrooms. Disease is rampant, the children’s bellies swollen with parasites, and starvation is real. Our team visited several different tent cities throughout our time in Port-au-Prince, doing dome evangelism, but mostly spending time with the kids there. These children have it the worst: most are either neglected or abused by their parents, many don’t have clothes or shoes and all of them are hungry and thirsty. But their eyes light up when they see us coming. We usually spent a few hours in the tent cities per week, performing skits, telling Bible stories or just playing with them or holding them. Their parents look on as we offer these children unconditional love and attempt to give them the only thing that truly lasts in this world: Jesus’s love.

We also took part in a few construction projects with the YWAM base that was hosting us. They purchased a large plot of land an hour outside the city and have the goal of building a hundred houses out there. So we spent a few days digging foundations, mixing cement and laying the groundwork for two duplexes. I had never done much physical labor before so this was definitely challenging for me, but so rewarding! We also helped build several bunkbeds for the base as they will be hosting up to 50 students in June for the first ever discipleship training school in Port-au-Prince. As a result, I have pretty much perfected the art of using the circular sander (I’m not sure if that’s what it’s called… But it’s circular and it sands so...). I loved learning to work with wood- now Jesus and I have one more thing in common :)

Every week during our time in Port-au-Prince, we visited the Canaan Orphanage. Though, I’m not sure “orphanage” is even an accurate term to describe it, seeing as how it brings to mind images of a simple building with rows of bunkbeds where children patiently wait to be adopted. Canaan Orphanage is nothing more than a plot of land, slightly smaller than a soccer field, surrounded by a few strands of barbed wire tied to some wooden posts, with a handful of makeshift tents on dispersed throughout it. At best, it looks like a mediocre campsite, but it is in fact home to over 30 orphans. Many them had parents die during the earthquake. It is run by one of the most amazing, spirit-filled women I have ever met, a middle-aged Haitian woman named Odelaine. She has no way to provide for these children; they trust God every day for food to eat, but what is truly amazing is that God has always been faithful! Every time we would visit these kids, they had grown and gained weight. One time, they even had new clothes! God taught me so much through these kids, but more than anything, He showed me that He truly does stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, and He takes care of the orphans and widows. Our times at Canaan were some of the best times of this outreach for me.

On Thursday, April 28th, we left Port-au-Prince and took a bus a few hours up the coast to the smaller town of Gonaives where we will be for the remainder of our time in Haiti. We are staying at a YWAM base here and will be working with the base director, Pastor Mola in his ministry. We will be doing street evangelism, and we will be visiting orphanages, schools, hospitals and various villages nearby.

Thank you Jesus: For healing my teammates who were under the weather and for keeping us all in good health since; for the amazing hospitality we've received at both bases so far (surprisingly delicious food, comfortable beds, mosquito netting!);  for safe travels around the country!
Please Pray: For God’s continued hand of guidance over our team, that the Spirit would lead us to the people that God has prepared for us to minister to; for good sleep (there is a lot of noise at night here and a church service down the street at 4 in the morning that makes it sleep tough!); for continued good health and bonding in our team.

Thanks for sticking with me and my team on this adventure!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where's God in disaster?

OK, so just a quick disclaimer: I've been reading quite a bit of Rob Bell and Donald Miller's works lately, which has many side effects, one of which is extensive thinking. The following blog is most likely the result of this dangerous pasttime.

As I look around this city, it is impossible to forget the earthquake that ravaged it one year ago. There is still rubble everywhere and thousands of tents litter the city. When I hear people recount to me the tragedy that struck on January 12th 2010, I can see the sadness in their eyes. Not a single person in this country was left unaffected by this disaster. In 45 seconds, an entire nation was turned upside down. It is impossible for me to look around at the mass graves, to hold an orphaned child in my arms and to walk through the tent cities and not ask my God the question: Where are you in all this? And where are you now?

One common explanation for the earthquake is that God was shaking the foundations of this country. People frequently tell the story of how a slave, 200 years ago, drank blood and committed the country of Haiti to the devil for 2 centuries in exchange for their freedom from the French. The curse on this land is evident: the once fertile soil is now dry and barren, poverty and famine are everywhere. Many believe that after the curse ended in 2004, God wanted to start over in Haiti, tear it all down and rebuild it. Every important government building- all built on the foundation of Voodoo rituals- has now been reduced to a pile of rubble.

Now this theory sounds nice until you drive past a mass grave where 80,000 people lie dead, or until you hear a four-year-old state matter-of-factly: my mom and dad are dead now. The God I serve is a God whose heart breaks for orphans and who despises death and destruction. The God I serve is a God who gives “life in abundance” and longs to bring joy and love to His children. How then could the same God sing the death warrant of hundreds of thousands of people and leave the rest to suffer through loneliness, disease and starvation?

No. I cannot accept that God divised this disaster, orchestrated the whole thing for some higher purpose. And while I acknowledge that God’s ways are higher than our ways, I don’t want to use it as a cop-out, and simply accept that this is beyond my understanding. I believe that the opposite of faith is not doubt- in fact, doubt is crucial to the growth of faith. In Eph 1:17, Paul prays that “The God of our Lord Jesus, the Father of glory may give to you a spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of Him" and in James 1:5 he says that if anyone lacks wisdom he should ask God for it because He gives it generously and without reproach. So I am not afraid to continue questioning. But rather than theorizing and wondering about the mysteries of God as though He were some far-off, mythological entity, I exercise my privilege of an intimate relationship with God through Jesus and ask Him directly.

And Jesus responds by bringing to mind the story of Lazarus in John 11. Now, in this story, when Jesus first found out that Lazarus was ill, He was probably aware that he would die if He didn’t leave immediately to go help him. He knew Lazarus was going to die but He didn’t prevent it. He knew Lazarus was going to die, but when He got there and found His dear friend actually dead, He was heartbroken. He wept. He grieved. He joined Mary and Martha in mourning. His pain was every bit as acute as theirs because Lazarus was His friend too, “the one He loved” (v.3) But He didn’t stop there. He took the situation to His Father and asked Him to redeem it. And it was in the midst of this disaster that Jesus performed on the greatest miracles of His ministry.

Jesus did not cause Lazarus to become sick and die- some disease or accident that is simply the result of living in a fallen world did that. In the same way, I do not believe that God caused the earthquake in Haiti. Our whole planet got messed up during the Fall. Earthquakes happen. (I suppose it is also a definite possibility that the evil one could have had some part to play in it as well- after all, Jesus did call him the Prince of the Earth.)

Jesus knew Lazarus would die. He definitely could have prevented it, being God, but He didn’t “for the glory of God that the Son of God might be glorified through it” (v.4). Jesus also knew the Earthquake would hit Haiti on January 12th, 2010, turning an entire nation upside down. He could have prevented it but He didn’t. He did not cause this disaster but He allowed it to happen. Slight difference in wording, huge difference in implications.

In the case of Lazarus’ death, Jesus’ heart broke. On the day of the earthquake, His heart broke again. He wept. He grieved. He joined with the nation of Haiti in mourning. He said to Himself in both situations, “This is not how I created this world to be”.

But He didn’t stop there. He didn’t panic or freak out or go “Ah! Now what?!”. No, he rolled up His sleeves and from the ashes of disaster, He began to bring life. He looked at the fallen world, at the beautiful mess we’ve made for ourselves and He got to work. Because God is in the business of redeeming. He loves to take our mistakes and turn them into something beautiful. He did it with Lazarus. He is doing it in Haiti. And He is doing it in our lives every day.

So where is God in disaster? He’s right there with us, feeling our loss, our confusion, our pain just as intensely as we are. But even as He wipes the tears from His eyes, He is working in situation- no matter how convoluted- to make it into something even better than it was before, to bring His kingdom of Heaven here in the place of Hell and to give glory to His name forever and ever. Amen ☺