I have been home for almost three weeks now. In some ways, its feels like I was in Haiti a lifetime ago. I have been trying to process through the three months I lived there and what it means for me now that I am home. In all honesty, I struggled with my time there as I was faced with my own fears and insecurities that are only heighted by living in another culture.
One of the things I have come away with is the vast need that is before me each day, right here where I live, if I would only open my eyes and see where he is taking me.
Everywhere you look in Haiti, kids are running around their makeshift houses with shoes that are falling apart or have no shoes at all. I live in a place that is the epitomy of wealth. Shows like The OC and Orange County Housewives all give glimpses of what life is like for a group of people that live around here. This culture needs the latest fashion. The newest car. Bigger is better. More is better. I even find myself being sucked into the those beliefs as I had to shove my 3 new dresses into my already full closet of clothes. But, hey, I only paid $5 for each item!
Then I hear stories like the one below…
Volunteers at Richman Park in Fullerton are learning that VBS is not only an opportunity to share the gospel with children from the community, but also a chance to have unique eyes on their city and be a tangible demonstration of Christ’s love. On the first day, one leader saw a child alone on the swings and asked him to join the festivities. He agreed, but said that the leader would need to ask his mom. When the leader asked where his mom was – the boy reluctantly pointed to a woman sleeping on a bench nearby. Over the course of the day, it became clear, the child and his family were homeless and were living in the park.
The boy’s brother didn’t come over to join the group until Wednesday, and volunteers realized it was because he didn’t have any shoes on his feet. When it became apparent that a few more of the children’s families were indeed living in the park, volunteers knew something needed to be done. Bri Stickney, Fullerton’s new city liaison was able to be at the site and got to spend time with the parents of the kids while they participated in the VBS activities. After working with Bri, one of the families experiencing homelessness is now being placed in temporary hotel housing and another is slated to meet with Pathways of Hope, an organization that helps families with transitional housing and food vouchers.
Families from RHF (and even some who don’t attend church at all) have been moved by the experiences their children are having at VBS and have banded together to support their neighbors. Different parents have taken it upon themselves to bring hearty snacks each day for the children, and some have joined together to purchase shoes for a few children that don’t have ones that fit properly. They are also working to provide vouchers and gift cards to bless the families in need.
This is one of the beautiful things about the community-driven VBS model, communities are able to be in the neighborhoods and are able to see the very real needs of those around them. Relationships are being formed, families are being assisted, and most importantly, Jesus is being put on display in tangible and transforming ways.
I feel grateful to be apart of a church that has eyes to see others as Christ does. I feel heartbroken that in a place of such incredible wealth there are many who are with out homes and such basic things as a pair of shoes. I am humbled that God has chosen his Church, me, you, to show his love, grace, and provision to those he has placed around us. Father open our eyes to what you would have us do. May we not become so busy that we miss what you are doing.