Monday, May 12, 2008

The Long Defeat

Ever since I read "Angels of a Lower Flight" I've been curious about Haiti. I ran across the blog of a family living in rural Haiti running a mission. The woman is a good writer and takes great photography, but that isn't what intrigued me. What got me was their ordinariness. They were just people. They adopted from Haiti and Haiti wouldn't let go. Now they are serving the poor in their children's homeland. They're not super spiritual, and she doesn't wear a denim jumper. They have no degrees in theology, or training in international relations.

They just went. God called. They went.

So how is it you go from being a suburban white family in the Twin Cities, to adoptiong black kids from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? They are a family of 9 now, and they decided to uproot and move to Haiti. They just sold their house. They're commited.

One of this woman's posts was about "The Long Defeat". She admits that NGOs and missionaries have long been in Haiti. They have made little headway in the face of poverty, corruption, and spiritual darkness. It appears to be a losing game. But she says she's in it for the duration, the long defeat.

There is an old hymn that says, "though He slay me yet will I follow..." The words are archaic, but the poetry remains. There is something about this Jesus that walking with Him worth whatever price.

My friend, Cheryl, is in China right now. She is there adopting a 4 year old little girl with significant special needs. It's been a scary journey for their family, and the work is really only beginning. Cheryl said that she has found comfort in the Bible story about 3 buddies who would not bow to the king.

If you're "churcified" you know that I'm talking about Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednago (who knows how their names are really spelled, but bear with me.) The story goes that the king (Darius, I think) decided to build this huge statue of himself and required all the citizens to bow down and pay homage to him as a god. Rack, Shack, and Benny refused; Darius was furious. He ordered a gigantic oven to be stoked to blazing hot and then ordered the 3 guys to be tossed in.

"Oh King," said Rack, Shack and Benny, "our God is able to save us from the flames, but we want you to know that even if he does not, we won't bow to your statue."

So the guys get tossed in, and a miracle happens. The king and his royal dudes look into the fire and see not three guys, but four, walking around amidst the flames. Darius, call out Rack, Shack and Benny from the fire, and amazingly they don't even smell smoky. Darius is put to shame, and decides to honor the one true God.

Cheryl's take away: God shows up when you choose to walk into the flames.

Cheryl and Tim, The Hatian missionaries, Susie Krabacher, Kay Warren, and others have leapt with abandon into the risky business of caring for people. They are walking into the fire; the are in it for the long defeat. And, I am sure, they will encounter God in ways that people who never leap do.

I have another aquaintence, who has basically bagged his faith. He admits there's probably a god, but it's not YHWY, the God of the Bible. He has done his intellectual homework, and has a solid defense, I'm sure. But the deal, as far as I see it, is that you will defend what you believe. If I truly believed that human beings were grown by pink aliens to inhabit the planet earth I bet I could come up with some semi-plausible evidence to defend my position. Faith isn't an intellectual pursuit. It's walking into the fire, and encountering God on a personal level.
That's when you know God is real.

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