This morning I read a post written by Ann Voskamp about her trip to Haiti. Halfway through I kept having to sweep the tears in order to finish. Wrecked. Its too easy to distance ourselves from our kin who live in poverty. Its too easy rest in the self-righteousness of “where I was born.” She writes,
And when our Haitian Compassion translator, Johnny, stands in The Alpha Hotel with its rats running down the hallways, he tells us how, after getting his BA in Florida, he’d got his MDiv in North Carolina.
How he’d come back to Haiti to work for Compassion, and took in 5 starving Haitian orphans to raise with his own 3 and saved to send all 8 of them to university.
How he’d walked out of the Hotel Montana not 30 seconds before it collapsed in the earthquake and how after the quake, how he’d climbed from one tree to the next, all down the mountain from the Montana, all the roads blocked with rubble and death, wild to find his kids and wife somewhere in Port Au Prince that is home.
And that’s when I couldn’t stop it – when it came out of me, a whisper, but still too loud.
Like an angry fool, I had asked him, laid my hand on his arm and quietly begged him, “Johnny, I know you were born here – but someday — couldn’t you take your family and move to a land like the States?”
Just step over the rubble and beggars and latrines and garbage and gangs and just get your family out of this place where you were born and come find the land of the free? It’s ugly, but it’s what I thought for our friend: You only get one life here and who really wants to spend it in the slums?
And he looked me in the eyes and he waited, searching mine.
Searching for a way to get the truth right into me, me born into the lap of ease of the West and homesick for the farm and wanting everyone to have the relative ease of the middle class.
“But I am Moses.” Johnny speaks it deep, his eyes never leaving mine, his fatherly hand gently squeezing mine, soothing out my roaring wail.
“I am Moses. I do not leave my kindred.”
And the whole planet and all my heart reverberates.
I am Moses. I do not leave my kindred.
You don’t leave your kin to save your own skin.
You don’t stay in the palace if you want anybody to find deliverance – especially yourself.
You don’t forget who your brother is — when you know Who your Father is.
I turn away, chin quaking hard. I’ve got a passport in my bag and a ticket to ease and he only gets one life here and he’s living in the desperate need of this one for the definite reward of the next one – and how in the world again am I living mine?
If the grace of my life is mostly where I am born, and I am born again into the family of Christ, than how can my life birth anything other than a grace that gives?
Read the whole post and take in the pictures.