Andy Stanley is fond of saying that “Jesus didn’t die for a program, he died for people.” I thought that I understood the meaning of this before going to Haiti, but once again, the people of Haiti showed me what is really important in life: people.
On any mission trip, the temptation is to focus on a project. After all, people are investing in the trip to make sure something gets accomplished, right? What is the point of going somewhere like Haiti if we aren’t going to help them rebuild after the earthquake? Would the trip be a failure if we left Haiti with nothing tangible to show for our 8 days there?
I am learning that this line of thinking cannot be further from the truth. Projects come and go, but an investment in another human being is never a waste of time. Relationships matter. People are important. People are more important than the program or project. The people of Haiti understand this.
Haiti is often labeled by the media as “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.” And to be sure, poverty is rampant in Haiti. Material poverty, that is. One of the more enduring lessons we learned from the Haitians is that poverty is not simply determined by wealth or stuff. What if we instead measured poverty by the number of meaningful relationships we have? They would say that most Americans live in poverty because we spend our lives trying to isolate ourselves (ouch). And conversely, they do not consider themselves to be poor because they are rich with many meaningful relationships. And we got to be loved on out of the overflow of these relationships!
What a blessing to spend time with a culture that absolutely treasures people. Andy Stanley is right. When I read about Jesus, I see him pouring into others so that they can then go and pour into even more people. Jesus’ final instructions to Peter were to “feed/take care of my sheep.” And we can do that where ever we are.