“Is it making any difference?”
I’m often asked that question related to the missions work that I’m involved with, particularly in Haiti. People love to hear the story about Richard and the microloan that changed his life. However, the reality is that Haiti is still one of the poorest nations in the world, despite the massive amount of aid which has poured into the country.
I remember feeling hopeless at times during my most recent trip there. People who visit poverty-stricken nations easily feel overwhelmed and hopeless: there’s just so much that needs to be done. We can only hug so many starving babies before we realize we don’t have enough to feed them all. When we see such urgent needs, we feel like we need everything to be fixed as soon as possible.
But every time I look at the painting done by Richard hanging on my office wall, I am reminded that this kind of resurrection is a process. It’s not a quick fix. Even if we dumped the entire GDP of the United States into Haiti, it still wouldn’t fix all the problems.
Certainly there is work that needs to be done. In Richard’s case it was a seed that allowed him to create his art. That art was sold for a nice profit, and part of that profit was used to seed other artists and craftsmen.
Many near his home still struggle with having a safe place to call home, with access to clean water, with having enough to eat. But at times, I feel like I’m watching the artist who just started painting his masterpiece. We’ve helped him get the canvases, and brushes, and paints, and now it’s time for us to wait so he can do his work.
We can’t paint his masterpiece for him. We can only be still and wait.
Each time I visit now, I look forward to seeing what the Master Artist has done. Each time I discover a few more strokes on the canvas. Strokes done with a mastery that I never could have done for them.
With one stroke I see a home being built for a family still living in a tent, the workers earning money for food for their own families. With another stroke I see a child smile while climbing the ladder for yet another ride down the slide, part of a playground that is providing many kids the opportunity to be “just a kid.” And with another stroke I see the walls of a school going up that will provide hundreds (if not thousands) of children a place to discover their passions and be equipped to pursue them.
Lots of hustle and sweat and tears went into the work that made these things possible. Now it’s time for some of us to stop, and let the Artist take over.
So I wait, and watch. And I prepare for the time when I’ll see the completed masterpiece. When that time comes, I’ll celebrate. It’ll be a joyous day when we see the new life reflected in the masterpiece that has been in progress all along.
Image by Mollie Donovan Burpo. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by High Calling Social Media Editor, Dan King, author of The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew Warmer to Poverty Fighter.
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