On July 4th, I landed in San Francisco airport. Exhausted from the flight, I stepped into the restroom to throw some water on my face. Standing in front of the mirror, I looked very much like the person who had departed less than five days earlier. Maybe a little darker, a few pounds lighter. But somehow, I felt different. I was different. The person standing before me was now a missionary.
Haiti has been called the Land of Mountains. And for Westerners who have stepped foot on that island nation, the mountains surely symbolize the enormous challenge of transforming the disaster-plagued and poverty-stricken country into a modern civilization. Before I went to Haiti, I didn’t understand what a missionary was. Sure I knew the dictionary definition, but how did it feel to be doing missionary work? What did it look like? How was it any different from conventional charitable work? We can fly to Haiti, deliver food and medicine, provide medical service, teach English, conduct worship service. All these are nice, charitable works. But two things must be accomplished on a mission for it to be successful in the Christian sense. One, everything we do must point to Christ. We can tend to the body and mind, but the spirit must not be neglected. Two, we must do it out of Love, in the Greek sense of agape, or God’s love.
Spiritual resurrection surely comes before material resurrection, whether we speak of a person or a nation. If we go to Haiti to merely “help” people, or to briefly assuage our First World guilt, no matter how skilled we are, or how valuable and manifold the resources that we provide, we are not doing God’s work. We are not missionaries. However, if we go to Haiti as a cup carrying the Living Water, then Haiti will be truly refreshed. If we go serve in the way that Jesus would, seeking no glory for ourselves, under challenging conditions, then God will truly be glorified. Only then will the spiritual mountains in Haiti be overcome, leveled by God’s amazing love.
We’ve all sung the song “Hosanna” from Hillsong United. We’ve all cried out the lyrics “Break my heart for what breaks yours!” Take time to read 1 Corinthians 13, and decide what kind of Christian you want to be. Are your spoken words just ringing brass, or the creaking of a rusty gate? Or are you what you sing to God? Every Christian with the opportunity and the means should be a missionary. Not for the benefit of whom you serve, but for your own. If God wishes to bless the people in Haiti, or any place where the power of darkness and sin has a firm hold, He will bless them either with or without your help. Don’t worry about what skills or resources you can bring to the mission team. Bring an open heart and allow God to fill it. Timothy Yu