The Big Question
This is a great team. Richard, Ross and Vic were the trailblazers making contact with Pastor Rolex Poisson and his church following the devastating earthquake in 2010. They simply asked if they could help and under the banner of Mission International visited, offered practical help and over the past seven years established a bond with teams, visiting, sometimes three times in the one year. The whole issue of helping poor communities in the world (Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere) is a vexed one. The tales of situations where aid makes matters worse are countless: teams coming to plaster and paint schools when there are good local artisans who could use the work, water pumps installed to villages that break down and the village women resort to carrying water for miles, the white man’s money buying some feel good merit being parachuted in and airlifted out and the crippling effect of aid like American rice which kills off the nation’s own rice growers who cannot compete with the low cost of the imported grain. These stories alone would make you reluctant to help at all, but that is not an option for the guys on this team. There is a sacrificial commitment that is humbling. They come at some cost to themselves and their families. The clear principle is simply one of enabling and encouraging the local church in its ministry within this benighted community. I think that is the right way. The work that is done will be by Haitians it will be the resource that they identify and they will own it.
Paul and myself who joined previous teams together with Dave make up the remainder of the team. In the long spells when nothing much is happening we sit and share our experiences and wrestle with the big questions laced with raw Irish, Yorkshire and Glasgow humour. These were special times. We were often expressing diverse cultural and political views, sharing differing theological standpoints, arguing about conspiracy theories, nationalism and Margaret Thatcher, yet all with a sense that when it came to what really mattered we were one. In a very short time I felt a wonderful bond was being fostered
A recurring theme of our discussions focused on our shared dismay at the sustained attack on the family in our society back home and the destruction of this singular foundational block of our society. It’s not new of course but we felt that the destruction was progressive and accelerating. There seemed to be an increasing sense that the civilisation known as Western Christianity will follow the other empires that preceded it and simply collapse in a spectacular manner. The possibility that somehow it will morph into a liberal world of justice, peace and equality, adrift from its Greco/Roman/Judeo/ Christian foundational base, seemed to me belonging to a fantasy of wishful thinking. It was against this back cloth of gloom that what we saw in Haiti sparkled with hope. When Richard declared to the 400 plus at the early church service. “You may think that you are poor, but you are rich” the congregation responded with a loud and assured “Amen” you could see it their faces brimming with confidence “Yes we are rich”. Europe may well be descending into a new dark age but there are places in the world where there is hope of a new dawn ripe with opportunities grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.