Today we fed the hungry. We’ve been providing snacks at the sports camp all week, but today we served lunch to all the children and many adults who came to the church. Haitians rarely eat lunch because they cannot afford to. So serving to them lunch today was a great blessing for them.
It was an amazing sight. Close to 200 people (if not more) crammed into the tiny stone church building. We had them sit wherever they could: on the wood benches, on the small children’s chairs made out of straw, even on the floor. And they waited so patiently while we passed plates through an assembly line to each person. Then, after lunch, we talked, played games, and sang songs, loving them as Christ loves us.
I’ve struggled in the past about whether it’s better to raise money to go on a foreign mission trip or to raise money to send to established missionaries already serving in places like Haiti. There are certainly positives and negatives to both. The latter is certainly needed, but money can’t buy someone to hug two hundred kids.
I had a good conversation this morning with Miriam, who runs New Life Children’s Home, where we are staying and doing some work this week. I wanted to know what she would prefer. It’s not cheap to come to Haiti on a mission trip, so I wanted to know if she would prefer that I come back and bring others, or raise the same amount of funds and send them so that they can meet their needs and help people more.
Her response settled the issue for me.
She said that they have many financial needs. She named many of them, which added up quickly and most of which were reoccurring. Their needs are great, and it is certainly a worthy cause. They help hundreds of children, giving them food and shelter, sharing the love of Christ with them.
And yet as great as these needs are, she also greatly appreciates the help that groups like ours bring. Groups who come can bring the kind of manpower that they need to accomplish big projects. We can serve lunch to hundreds of people and show love to hundreds of kids. We can play with them and bring smiles to their faces.
Money can’t buy those things.
When it comes down to it, we need to do both. But the reality is that we will rarely give much until we see the needs for ourselves. So the best thing we can do is to go, so that we can become more passionate about giving. Not only will this invigorate us to give sacrificially, but we will also help the established ministries in greatly appreciated ways while we are there.
Jesus commended the poor widow who gave her two mites. She gave sacrificially. And certainly she wasn’t giving out of legalism, otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have commended it. She knew her money had a purpose.
Because I came to Haiti on this mission trip, I see that our missions dollars have great purpose. I’ve always kind of known that, but now when I give, I see the faces of hundreds of smiling children who are so thankful for the meal we are providing. And if you need to see the same so that you will give generously, I pray that you would go as well.