Katherine P., a Restoration Church member, reflects on her time in Haiti:
I have a heart for the nations. It’s Christian-ese for “I love the whole wide world, especially the lost people.”
But it’s hard to have feelings for something so abstract. The nations. What does that mean? The whole world – you love all 7 billion people on this planet? All the countries, all people-groups, all languages and tribes and tongues? All of them – every single one?
Loving the nations is easy. I used to love the nations.
But loving a place – one specific country, one people-group, one community – is hard. It’s messy, and dirty. There are a lot of tears, some laughter, some frustration. Love is more about action and interaction than about a feeling. Loving a spouse is hard, loving family is hard, why should “loving the nations” be easy?
I’m learning how to love a people, instead of the nations.
Loving the nations is easy because it requires no real investment. It requires no true devotion or labor.
Loving Haiti is messy. It’s dirty. It’s hard. It would be easier to walk away. The disabled child who is left to his own devices, the woman who will not believe in Jesus even if God moves heaven and earth to reveal Himself, the pastors who neglect their flock, the men who drink and do not work and hit their wives and children, the elderly who will not be cared for, the communities built around perversions of the Gospel, the circumstance of those who live there… it is all there. It becomes easy to wonder – How do you love that? Why would you ever even want to love that?
Because amidst all that, there are men and women who love Jesus with a depth and ferocity and devotion I pray I have one day. There are pastors who want to be trained. There are families who have made sacrifices to put food on the table, to keep all their children in school. There are people who want to know Jesus. There are community leaders who have sacrificed their whole lives to build a better community. There are young men and women who desire to partner together in ministry and in life.
It is hard not to fall in love with the majesty of God, and all that He is doing there. Despite the dirt and the tears and the sweat and the poverty, I love Haiti. Ask anyone who went with us, they will tell you the same. I love the people we have met. And that is hard. Loving people (any people) is a difficult, and sometimes excruciating thing to do. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ there – they challenge me and edify me and love me so well. But I also love the people we met who abhor the Gospel. I love the people we met who are resistant to what we have to say. I labor over all of them with tears and time in prayer. I ache when I think of them, the way I ache when I remember that there are members of my family who do not know, and may never know Jesus. I miss my brothers and sisters of Haiti the way I miss my brothers and sisters who are currently in California, Minnesota, and the Persian Gulf. I long for the day we will all sit at the throne of God together and worship, the day we will sit together and share endless stories about God’s mighty provision and holiness.
Loving them is not easy. It would be easier to just turn it off, and to choose to go back to my life, forgetting that I met them. To let their stories fade back into the mosaic of my life – we were only there for one week. To forget them would be simple. To love them is hard. But it is also a joy and a privilege! I want to stop being shallow in my love for “the nations” and start to be deep in my love for a few places, that the name of Jesus might be known, no matter how hard or messy.