Jared Witt l October 6, 2016
That familiar tug you felt in your heart when you saw the hurricane update from Haiti? That turmoil in your gut? That restlessness to get up and do something?
That’s good. Don’t lose that. It means you’re human.
But don’t just do something. Stand there. There will be plenty of time to act, I promise. Let's give it a minute and think this through, first.
It’s one thing to feel that urgency in your soul. That rush of compassion. Those are holy feelings.
BUT it’s another thing to channel those feelings in intelligent ways. The heart is great at motivating us to action. But it doesn’t direct that action very well. We need heads for that.
Alright. Now that we've taken a moment, I have some good news. There is a way in which you can marry your head and heart in a really holy and life-giving way. If you go about it like this, I can personally guarantee that your very helpful sense of compassion won’t translate into something very unhelpful like a mosquito net for someone who really needs a school teacher or 5,000 tampons for an all boys home (I actually saw that second thing happen right in front of me one time).
Instead of all that, I strongly suggest you look into the Haitian Timoun Foundation.
Haitian Timoun Foundation (Haitian “Children’s” Foundation or HTF) is not a top-down American aid organization. Rather, it is a grassroots network of visionary and industrious Haitians, who have come up with sustainable, long term solutions for the educational needs of their kids and who have then invited North Americans to walk alongside them in their work. At no point do the US partners swoop in after a disaster and give Haiti a long list of solutions that seem a little too good to be true precisely because they are. Rather, we listen, we ask questions, and we learn as much or more from our Haitian partners than they learn from us. And the solutions that do come about have much more to do with improving the lives of Haitian children than they do with assuaging white guilt. The partnerships are close, reciprocal, and have stood the test of time.
Because of my long term relationship with them and their demonstrated transformative impact over the last two decades, HTF was one of the first organizations which Castle Church identified as a long term partner to whom we intend to dedicate a large part of our profits after doors open.
Have a look around their website and follow on Facebook to learn more.
Because the real movers and shakers in HTF are Haitian's living in Haiti, they do not just buy a plane ticket and spring into action after disaster has already struck, like so many churches and international aid organizations. Instead, they are on the ground 24/7, working day after day, over the long haul, to strengthen an entire generation of children so that they can withstand the next storm on their own.
To partner with HTF is to invest in people, not in things. It is to stand with another human being, each of us with one foot on either side of the “dividing wall” that once separated us, before Christ broke it down with his very own body (Eph. 2:11-16). It is to dream big dreams with a brother or sister you never knew you had, as we both lean in, hand in hand, to that future where no crying and pain will obscure our equal dignity in the eyes of God.
Peace and Cheers,
Jared Witt is a pastor in the ELCA and, along with Aaron Schmalzle, is a Founding Director of Castle Church Brewing Community and Castle Church Faith Community.
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.