I have been reading a book, Shane Claiborne’s Jesus for President, since last year. Determined, I decided to finish it in Haiti. Not only have I finished it among a time of history in Haiti, but I have passed it on to almost half of our team. It has been incredible to read as we simply look outside of our windows and see what has become of a nation who is crying out for someone to save them.
Many church services I attend have a very similar underlying theme: “We need a Godly president to turn this country around.” At first, I agreed. That was the only hope, I thought to myself. But, as I started to be challenged by this book and by God, I realized this story is all too close to another one.
When Jesus was born, he was not expected to be the King of heaven and earth. People wanted Him to overthrow the oppressive Roman empire. They asked Him, in numerous ways and over the course of His life, when He would do so. He explained to them that His Kingdom was peculiar. His Kingdom was different– but people didn’t want different; they wanted to be free from the oppression they were facing.
Let’s face it, Jews knew suffering. The Haitians and the ancient Jews have many parallels. Both have faced several hardships and both have proved to be incredibly strong. Currently, the Haitians are facing external occupation by a force called the United Nations. They ride around in their trucks, and while they are not oppressive in the way the Romans were to the ancient Jews, they are still occupying their land, driving up their prices and injuring others on occasion. The Romans were seriously oppressing the ancient Jews…and this is where Jesus enters the scene.
Jesus, through His life, shows us that there is a third way. He is not passive, but, lets face it people, he is also not violent. People start stoning a woman, he draws in the sand. He instructs people to carry weapons for Romans a mile over the amount that they were required to do (which was crazy!). He told people to give their clothes when someone takes them to court, because by revealing their own nakedness, they were revealing the other person’s selfishness.
So, what did Jesus do when He was on the earth? He showed us how to live as He was living. Yes, so many of us run into Christians trying to be like the God sitting on the clouds. Unfortunately, that is not the God that Jesus is and was showing us to be. He is a God who cared about others with great compassion. He is a God who could care less what you wear to worship, what kind of car you drive there and is far more concerned with your heart beneath you. Jesus showed us character and He showed us that although the world might oppress us, we are still able to be creative in our fight against it. We are able to do this because we don’t live for the Kingdoms of this world– we live for a Kingdom that will not be shaken.
When we truly embrace what we say we believe: that our kingdom shall not be shaken, it doesn’t make much sense to serve any other kingdom, does it? After all, Isreal wanted a King (see 1 Sam) and God wanted His place on the throne. For us here in Haiti, it encouraged us to speak to the church leaders and leaders at YWAM with much more passion and conviction. What Jesus did was empower 12 guys…one community…and they changed the world. He was talking about Kingdom Come.
When the apostles are facing opposition, in the courts, this is what is recorded:
“They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas, so they could drag them out in front of the crowds. Not finding them, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council, saying ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…and they are acting against the decree of Ceaser saying there is another king, Jesus.’” Acts 17:5-7
These people could care less about what the king says or the promises he brings. They aren’t waiting for a politician to make things right, they are already doing it. Our forefathers and mothers were known as Christians because they were viewed by others as “Little Christs”. They abstained from sexual sin, but ALSO from gender stereotyping– women were just as valuable as men. They rescued babies from their death, because people did throw their children away then, just as they do now. They treated people with kindness and respect. No one was in need among them, because they simply met everyone’s needs in their communities.
This is what we are encouraged to do ourselves at home. Our American church is far from upholding these things, its true. But, since we are in Haiti, we are using these teachings to speak to people and encourage their creativity for change.
Our friend, Phillipson, has already spent two years working with prisioners, and now he is developing a school for when they get out.
A few ladies desire to work with people in the brothels and offer them a way out.
Some people want to dig trash pits in public areas so that they can have better trash control.
There is change for Haiti.
Last thing, because of all we were learning, our friend David decided to help Phillipson with a video he was requesting. Please take a look at it…it is promoting the training school in Port-Au-Prince, but the underlying message is the same. Come what may, we belong to Jesus. Our happiness and our victory have nothing to do with circumstance!