Inspiring Others through “Story”
In Haiti, it’s not unusual for us to think we’re going to do one thing and find ourselves actually doing something quite different. That’s what happened to our team last week. We had originally thought we’d be speaking about serving others (chapters 6 & 7 of the Rooted curriculum) with the members of several Church of God by Faith partner churches. Instead, we found ourselves participating in a conference provided as an act of service by pastors Samuel and Ronald to high school students in three local towns.
In each town, the audience was made up of kids preparing to graduate high school and either to go on to university or begin their careers. In an effort to prepare such kids for their next step, Sam and Ronald have developed a three-part conference aimed at encouraging Haiti’s youth to remain in Haiti and to lead others by their example, to save themselves for marriage, and to embrace technology as the future of business (along with English, so they can speak with foreigners, like us, who can’t speak Creole).
The conferences are held in local churches near the schools the kids attend. The local pastor volunteers his church, and Sam, Ronald, and Naomie (Ronald’s wife) volunteer their time. While we were in town, we contributed to the conference as well, and then provided everyone in attendance with lunch…likely the only meal of the day for some of the kids.
With only an hour during which to speak, we threw our initial plans to the wind and relied solely upon our own testimonies and stories, which every team member presented at least once during the week. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10 NIV) Our stories included bouts of feeling too overwhelmed to serve, of not knowing how to start, of feeling resentment for giving up one’s own time to serve, of being served by others in times of need, and of receiving more in return than that which was given. Regardless of how each story began, they all ended with one thing in common…a feeling of being blessed through the service that we’re now all committed to, as we’ve come to experience Jesus in a new way. As we told the kids, God wants us to be a blessing, not a burden. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16 ESV)
We may have traveled to Haiti to serve our brothers and sisters there, but such travel isn’t necessary. God simply calls His children to serve. Whether close to home or abroad, we encourage you to step out and help your neighbors. “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35 ESV)