I'm really tying myself to the chopping block by attempting to write a post of this manner. It's something we always want to rub in one another's faces, but don't exactly like when the roles reverse, and we are having to eat our words.
Which I am totally doing. Right now.
The mission field is kind of like one giant, metaphorical obstacle course. Some people come to challenge themselves. Some people come to be the champion. Others come against all will and common sense, taking a massive risk, but they know it's just something they are supposed to do.
We're all out here, fighting for our causes, attempting to survive and striving to be the ones "who get it", do it best and make the biggest difference.
Yet, the mission field can simultaneously be a lion's den. A place where people who are called to serve alongside one another, find themselves ready to rip out their opponent's jugular at any opportune moment.
When you feel that you have found your life's purpose and call, discovered the very reason air was breathed into your lungs, you will boldly stand by that mission, even if it means sacrificing money, comfort, health and relationships. It'll be over your dead body before anyone tries to take that away from you.
While this is regarded as altogether noble and does have the potential to be very positive, there is a fine line, which frequently gets crossed, where staying true to our convictions and personal aims, becomes the Roman Colosseum, if you will.
Let's go back to the obstacle course analogy, shall we? If the mission field is one hurdle after another that we are all trying to jump over, in record speed, then it seems that this would morph into one giant competition. Right?
But even more than just a meager competition, it becomes an all out Hunger Games.
The people who are looked up to as some of the most selfless, giving and compassionate individuals in the world are suddenly leading a tooth and nail regatta of cutthroat cynicism and bloody backstabbing.
We have to prove to the world our legitimacy. Have to constantly remind the people back home of our importance, and make sure they don't forget about us. Mostly to just stay afloat. So how easy would it be to retain and gain supporters, if you could prove why they shouldn't be supporting "that other organization" down the road or "those other missionaries".
Going deeper, it's incredibly easy to become entangled in a treacherous web of gossip and deceit, by trying to take down your opponent with slander and betrayal.
I'm making the mission field sound super appealing right now.
Just bear with me, I'm getting to my point.
When we grow frustrated with one another because of philosophical disputes and disagreements on processes and procedures, why do we so frequently revert to high school, and go back to our oh so familiar cliques and comfort zones with menacing intentions, toxic words and poisonous thoughts?
Did we forget that we are ALL a part the Body of Christ?
I'll raise my hand in shame to say I'm the first one to admit that I have not been perfect in this area. I've found myself disagreeing with the ways my fellow missionaries and believers go about their business, but rather than dealing with it in a mature and edifying way, I have tended to take the safe and easy route of filling my head with unkind thoughts, and even worse, sharing those thoughts with others.
But lately I've been thinking, we can't do it all on our own. We can't be every where at once, all things to all people. So maybe, we are all a part of the plan. We are all meant to work together and collectively strive to enhance the kingdom of heaven.
Ah, the famous, "let he without sin cast the first stone" passage. The one we always want to apply to ourselves, but so easily forget to extend to others.
Since adolescence, it's become second nature to take our modern day stones, words, to our brothers and sisters at any moment they seem to fail, get it wrong or disappoint and anger us.
This can apply to nearly any facet of life, but since my life includes moto taxis, fried plantains and choppily speaking another language, I figured it would only be best to insert it here.
Over the past eleven months of my service in Haiti, there are so, so many things I have seen, discovered, learned, re-learned and experienced.
Overwhelmingly so, I've met some of the most incredible people I've ever had the pleasure of encountering.
Brave, strong, selfless, honorable, humble, kind and hilarious people who have all done just as I have. They all see this country with the same eyes as I.
Eyes of love, eyes of hope, eyes of promise.
I may not agree with everybody's philosophies, everybody's doctrine and ways of "doing missions", but I can embrace and love them as my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are all trying, one day at a time, to make this crazy world a better place.
We are all messy.
We are all broken.
We all have about 15,686 issues and personal struggles we deal with on a daily basis.
So who am I to cast the first stone? Or any stone for that matter?
Because truth be told, I can't do this without them.
I can't walk this road alone, and it's pretty nice to have company on this insane, unpredictable, journey.
Maybe instead of automatically loading my gun and putting people in the line of fire, I need to look inwardly.
Where have I messed up? Where do I struggle? Where do I lack grace, patience, and most of all love?
Because if I have not love, I'm truly nothing.
We are all a vital part of this Body. I may not be the hands, heck, I might even think my role is far more sensible and logical, but the Body can't function properly without it's hands.
To all my fellow crazies, ex-pats and missionaries, especially my amazing Reimagine Haiti family, who have given it all up for Christ, to see Haiti restored and renewed, I love you and I'm praying for you all. Forgive me for my shortcomings and weaknesses. I invite you to walk this journey alongside of me.
We're all in this together. Let's build one another up in love.