Last summer I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to an orphanage in Fond-Blanc, Haiti, for my very first mission trip. I hadn’t been outside of the States since I was really young, and most people portray Haiti as one of the most intense mission fields out there. Needless to say, I didn’t really know what to expect.
For the past few years I often found myself daydreaming about being a missionary in a foreign country. I guess it all started when I read Kisses from Katie during my sophomore year of high school. Despite the book’s gritty descriptions of Katie’s life in Uganda, the love she shared with the children of Masese and the close communion she experienced with the Father made her life seem like a dream when compared with my mundane high school existence.
The further along I got in her book, the more I began to feel that this was the kind of life God was calling me to live. So, when the time came for me to go to Haiti, I rolled my eyes at suburban America, grabbed my passport and boarded the plane.
Lessons in Haiti
I loved every moment of my time in Haiti: the beautiful children, the dusty streets, the energetic worship services—everything. With each laugh, hug and smile from the kids, I was further sold on the trajectory of my life.
However, it wasn’t until I overheard one of the other visitors talking to some of the kids that I began to feel unsettled. As I listened more intently to their conversation I realized that the majority of the children wanted to do one thing with their lives: go to America. In fact, the thought that America was some kind of prosperous Eden seemed to be one of their primary beliefs.
What? How could all of these incredible children be dreaming of going to the materialistic, cynical, obese, superficial country that I had been increasingly loathing for years? I had finally made it out into the “real world” and all everybody else wanted to do was go back.
Then, as I walked around the back of the orphanage, I stumbled upon a classroom. Seeing the dusty chalkboard facing the rows of crumbling wooden benches was the first surreal moment of the entire trip. I guess nothing at the orphanage had seemed “that bad” until I saw those rickety benches. It put everything into perspective. While I may not have grown up in an orphanage, I did go to school, and those benches were the connecting point between my American-reality and the lives of these Haitian children.
Luke 12:48 says, “Everyone to whom much has been given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Why was I born in America? Why was I handed books, art, music, sports, a college education, heck, even a car? Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by how incredibly much I had been given in my life and the realization that I had responsibilities because of it.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to travel or experience new cultures, but there is something wrong with being ungrateful for your own. While this isn’t the case for everyone, I decided that, unlike what He called Katie to do, God wanted me to stay in America and go to college.
The more I thought about my passions and my love for learning and my determination to do something important with my life, the more I saw the importance of getting a degree. I didn’t just want to go to college for the experience. I wanted to go to college to learn well, to grow, to think hard and to develop my mind intellectually and, most importantly, spiritually so that I could take these tools and the myriad of opportunities I have been blessed with and use them to impact the world for the Lord, Jesus Christ.
And that’s what I’m doing.
What Have You Been Given?
God calls us to many different walks within the umbrella-term of “the Christian life.” Whether that does mean leaving home and building your life in another country or whether it means pursuing Christ through business, music, sports or medicine, take some time to survey the unique blessings that God has given you in this life. Find them, pursue them and glorify God with them.