Jesus came into this world with a mission. In Mark 1:14-15 it says, “Jesus came…proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying…‘repent and believe in the gospel.’” This gospel is the life-giving truth that God loved us so much that He sent His own Son to die and pay for our sin so that we can have access to Him and one day live in His presence.
It is for this reason that a man moved his wife, 9-year-old daughter, and 7-year-old son from Mechanicsville, VA to Port de Paix, Haiti in the fall of 1994. They spent five years there as teachers and missionaries, living under a very unstable government, driving down dirt roads and through rivers, sleeping in rat-infested huts, surviving in extreme heat and humidity with no fans or electricity, having no access to modern medicine, and overcoming a language barrier. Sounds crazy, right? I would be if it weren’t for God!
I can’t imagine the tears and prayers that went into making that decision to move–a decision many would consider unwise or unsafe for a family with small children. But God gave them direction and provided for them. He was faithful, and those five years in Haiti, although not the easiest, were some of the sweetest and most life-changing years for that family.
They witnessed people who had nothing give generously, caring for each other without question. They saw a people with so much joy, despite living in what many people would call a depressing and hopeless situation. That family is now living back in the States, and if you haven’t guessed it, that 9-year-old girl is now the 34-year-old me.
Coming back was hard. Of course, it was nice to have hot showers and air conditioning again, but the culture change was drastic. I went from being a missionary kid who everybody called “ti poupe” (meaning “little doll” because I was so small and skinny), to having friends who were similar sized to me (less than 100 lbs) who referred to themselves as “fat”. It was very confusing. I spent my high school years trying to fit back into American culture instead of realizing that even though I was no longer on Haitian soil, I was still on a mission field.
It took me a long time to figure out that God can use us anywhere, and I wish I’d learned it sooner. But I got comfortable back in the States and was no longer in the missionary mindset. That gradually took me down some roads that I wish I had never traveled, but God was so faithful to me.
On those dark roads I had no business being on, He showed me that He was there with me and loved me. He was the same God that He was in Haiti, and He had more for me. He could use my life, no matter how broken it was or on which soil it stood.
God has since given me a wonderful husband and a job where I get to help people on a daily basis. Sometimes I get Haitian patients and get to use my rusty, childlike Haitian Kreyol to bless them, and shock them! I am so thankful for those years in Haiti and the perspective it has given me.
In Mark 1:38, Jesus came back to His disciples after spending time praying and told them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach…that is why I came out.” He had just spent time healing the sick and driving out demons (all good things) but that is not why He came. He came on a mission to “proclaim the gospel.” How comforting that Jesus had to recenter His disciples’ focus even when they had Him in their midst, literally walking beside them. It is so easy to get side-tracked, sometimes even doing very good things.
As Jesus’ hands and feet, we are also here on a mission to “Go into the world” and “make disciples of all nations.” While I absolutely love foreign missions and pray that one day God calls me back to a foreign mission field, I will daily remind myself that right now He has me on a mission here in the United States in my family, my neighborhood, my workplace, and wherever He has me. He is a great and sovereign God who can use little old messed-up, side-tracked me. Thank you, Lord!