I would guess that Galatians 5:1 was probably a frequently quoted verse in churches across the country this weekend. It says that "It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery." In Galatians, Paul is writing to the churches in Southern Galatia. In this particular passage he is referring to the freedom we receive from Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Through that sacrifice we are free to live unselfishly and free of the bonds of sin. Check it out.
When I reread that verse, the second sentence reminds of something I've read numerous times by many authors. That is that poverty is a form of slavery. Had I not seen it first hand, I may not have understood the comment. When your level of poverty effects your every day survival then you are enslaved to it. It rules you and keeps you from even the basics. The basics such as shelter, food, clean drinking water and sanitation. I know we've all seen it on Feed the Children infomercials and other TV specials, but it's not as real when your sitting on your living room couch with a cold drink and a bag of chips. It is real when you smell it and see it first hand. It's real when walk into a village and the children swarm around you. It's real when you peek into the simple thatched homes to find only a mat and some basic utensils. Most of all it's real when you look into their eyes and see the need. Poverty steals so much from the children of Haiti. It limits their opportunities and in many cases limits their lives.
Poverty has changed the way Haitian people act and react. For example, they are amazingly creative and talented. While there, you'll see normal everyday items ingeniously re-made into helpful tools, utensils or other necessities. They generally don't discard things (at least not in the country) because they are constantly thinking of another way to use and re-use. Not because they are "green" but because they are poor.
When it comes to poverty controlling how they react, I think of a recent blog I've been reading called the Pye's in Haiti. It appears that the worst has happened for this family recently and they've lost a child. It sounds like Jabez was three years old. The reason I mention this blog and family is because of a recent post on their site. They write about mourning the Haitian way. Their point in the writing is that the Haitian people know suffering and through this they mourn differently. The blog says that oftentimes a Haitian woman will have five or more children and rarely sees them all make it to their third birthday. A woman that I had the privilege to meet on our trip last year had 12 children. Can you imagine? That's with no hospitals, vaccines, prenatal or postnatal care for that matter.
The Haitian people are incredibly strong. They are proud and they are very, very hard working. All this and poverty still enslaves them. It's also important to note that Haiti is the first free black nation. Free in 1804 after a slave rebellion that Hollywood is currently trying to recreate on film. Go get em' Danny Glover. If it draws some focus to the modern day needs in Haiti, I'm all for it. We'll have to wait till next year for that one though.
Poverty is out there and it's ugly. It smells bad, it looks bad and saddens me to think of the children who as the least of these face the most suffering as result. I encourage you to think outside of your comfort zone. It may be uncomfortable and it may be bit of a downer, but you know what, starvation is a downer and it's happening as you read. It's happening in Haiti and many other places in our world. If you take away one thing from today's ramble consider giving. Give to the wonderful folks at New Missions. You can sponsor a child for about $30 a month or you can opt to pay for rice which is so desperately needed. Not to mention it's skyrocketed in cost this year.
Only a two months till our trip! Please be in prayer for our finances as we attempt to pay for the different things that are needed (travel, hotel, vaccines and time at the mission). I'm guessing we're going to need about $1200-1500 per person. It's a small team, but we'll join up with others and I know that we can make a difference. We won't change the world, but we'll be able to make a child who may not have smiled or experienced hope that day do exactly that. In some ways they can expereince a short respite from poverty or at least forget about it for a few moments. That's freedom and that's an accomplishment that pays great dividends.
As always, thanks for reading and check back soon!