Head track and field coach Bill Taylor gives a narrative for the time he has spent in Haiti. With the trip wrapping up, he discusses his thoughts on carry over into coming back into the states.
I started this mission trip with a blog, so I decided I would end the trip with one too.
As I write this I am aware that I am completely overwhelmed. It is going to take weeks to digest all we have experienced in just seven days. It is impossible to do any justice to our experience in words.
I tried on day one. Alexander and Lacey have done great with their blog updates.
Yet, this is experience. This is unique to your senses and emotions. All of them.
Describe what a banana tastes like to someone who has never eaten a banana. You can’t. It must be tasted to be understood. So it is with this. We have seen, heard, tasted, felt and experienced so much and anything I write pales in comparison.
Haiti has been unique. So rather than go into detail about everything we have done, (I think Alexander and Lacey will wrap some of that up in tomorrow’s blog) I want to write about some common themes during this trip.
Two major topics have come up a lot since we’ve been here.
1)There is a spiritual war going on right now, throughout the earth. It will continue for each of us until we die or Jesus returns. You don’t have to be aware of it, or acknowledge it for it to be true.
A Christian is actually a spiritual warrior. A Christian is in God’s Army, and like any soldier, is supposed to fight.
Christianity is not a club. It’s not something you join for a while and attend meetings to keep your membership active.
Christianity is life. We are at war 24/7, and every Christian must be aware of this.
Here in Haiti we (Americans) can see and feel the spiritual battle. You can sense it in the air, see it on the ground, and you can hear it, be it the voodoo drums playing against us the night of our prayer walk, or the witch doctor chanting to bring the sun up each morning.
Here, Satan has found that fear and an open presence in the form of voodoo works best.
At home in the US, this battle is different. Satan chooses his tactics, like any General, to match the army he is up against. In the US this battle is more hidden, maybe even more sinister. Materialism and busyness is our Voodoo.
We get passive, busy, focused on making more money, buying more stuff, earning more power or prestige. We get lost in work, TV, video games, e-mail, Facebook or the thousand other things that distract and numb us. And as such, we become unaware of the battle and our responsibility in it.
In the US, Satan uses distraction, false intellectualism, arrogance, and pleasures taken too far to trick us into laying down our weapons and letting the battle go to the enemy.
I know a war analogy might be tough right now after being at war in Afghanistan and Iraq the past 11 years. But Political Correctness and psychological fatigue does not change the truth.
YOU ARE AT WAR! Christian or not, the battle rages for souls. Victory is assured for God. The spiritual casualties are not assured. Which is why it is important that you fight, and that you prepare yourself for battle.
For us, it was amazing how many times, in different ways, and from different people, the same verse came up. Over and over, Ephesians 6:13-17:
Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.
2)We have changed here. There is no doubt at all. How much each person has changed and in what way is unique to each person.
The question we’ve asked is, what will happen when we get back?
The spiritual war will be felt in more ways than we’ve felt here. Anyone who has felt the passion for God, the fire for the Lord, during a big youth retreat or a strong mission trip has felt the attack, the “down”, immediately after.
So how do we resist that? How do we maintain the most important experiences and lessons from this trip, and then how do we grow from them?
Resist, retain and grow!
This is a tough question though. It will be tougher for our group, going home to all different parts of the US for Christmas break.
The answers we have come up with so far are:
A)Commitment to the Truth.
This means remembering what is real and what is important and being committed to follow Christ fully. To put Him first. To proclaim His name without shame or fear. To try, to the best of our human abilities, to do His will in all things. And to catch ourselves when we fail, and correct it going forward.
B) Personal Devotional and Quiet Time.
One of the great things on this trip has been doing daily morning personal devotions and quiet time with God. I’ve heard so many in our group talk about how important this has been. It sets the tone for each day, opens our ears, eyes and hearts to God, is relaxing and therapeutic, and so much more. We read the Bible, we answer questions, we pray and we journal. And we are far better for it.
We are committing to finding the time from this moment on to do this for 30min a day. In reflecting on this, I’ve had many friends and acquaintances that have done this over the years. I’ve never heard a single one say “That was a waste of time!” On the contrary, every person I’ve ever known who did this consistently has changed for the better and has grown massively in their walk with God.
C) Small Group Accountability
We have four small groups of five people from our team of 20 on this trip. We will meet once a week for at least the next couple of months to talk, reflect, encourage, teach and learn from each other, with the foundation of shared experience here.
D) Larger Group Accountability
This is for each person to figure out…finding other accountability groups and partners, be the mentors, church groups, FCA, or whatever else. The more each person surrounds themselves with alive, active and on fire Christians, the better.
Humans are strange. We seek homeostasis. We want normalcy. We like routine and predictability.
And we hate them.
We like to know how it works inside and out and know what to expect, but we get bored and stagnant.
Change never happens with routine. And we are also built to desire change. This is because change is essential to growth. You can’t grow without being pushed into new, usually unpredictable and challenging areas.
We are this strange mix of the two, routine and change.
Most people error on the side of routine and safety. To grow in Christ, we must continue to stretch and grow and strive for greater things. We need to push our limits, get uncomfortable, and move ever forward.
Growth and change usually require some level of pain or discomfort. Many fear this. Embrace it as a part of the adventure of becoming a better person and a stronger Christian soldier.
We wrap up our Haiti mission trip tomorrow by flying home. Back to the states. Back to “our lives.”
I wish everyone could experience what we have. I hope everyone on my team and everyone on all the teams at Lipscomb will go on a mission trip. I think most of this group plans to return to Haiti.
My prayer is that “our lives” back in the US look very different than when we left, and never ever look the same again.