I had the awesome privilege of preaching this morning at a church in Haiti. I preached about how we are all called to be God’s witnesses, and how we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to do so, and we are compelled by our joy in Christ. And we’re to do this in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. For all of us on the mission trip, Haiti was our “ends of the earth.” But for the Haitians present, Haiti is their Jerusalem. It’s their hometown. And they will remain there to continue to be God’s witnesses.
Near the end the service, we sang and danced together, moving throughout the building freely. It was a neat experience because not only was it different from our normal services back home, but because there was no separation of Haitians and Americans. We were thoroughly mixed together, praising God together.
As I write this, I’m on a bus heading to the airport. We’re going home. Back to our Jerusalem.
I’ve heard many people over the years talk about how eye opening it is to see third world countries and the poverty they experience with your own eyes. And it is. As much as you might see these things portrayed on television, seeing them in person is entirely different. It’s personal.
And I’ve talked with many people who, after going on one foreign mission trip, cannot wait to go on another, and then another, and then another. Because they have found that God is using them to touch lives and share His love with people who desperately need to hear it. I praise God for them. And I praise God for those who spend their summers in Haiti, and those who have moved to Haiti and such places in order to minister there full-time. We need more people who will answer God’s call to do such things.
But that’s not for me.
I don’t say this because I had a bad week in Haiti. On the contrary, I had an awesome week, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity and all of the people who helped in making it possible for me to come. And if God makes it clear to me that I should return, I will certainly jump at the opportunity. I loved my time in Haiti this week, and I would love to return if God wills.
But at this point, I don’t think it’s my purpose to come back.
In coming, I was reminded exactly what my purpose is. I’m a pastor of a specific church in a specific town. I exist to shepherd them, to teach them, to encourage them, and to train them to follow Christ.
We can’t all be missionaries in foreign countries, but we can all seek to be faithful to encourage the people God has called us to, whether our families, or our church, or the people across town, or even the people on the other side of the world.
Find your calling, your people, and love them in such a way as to show them Jesus. And then encourage them to find their calling, their people. Some of us will go to Haiti. Some will go to Africa. Some will stay home. But all of us are called to be God’s witnesses.