Get on with the good work

Published 8:54 pm Friday, June 26, 2015

Recently I spent a week in the nation of Haiti, and part of my heart is still there. The Haitian people will be in my thoughts and prayers for the rest of my life.

As many of you know, a former columnist for this newspaper, Pastor Chris Surber, now lives in Haiti with his family. A group of 14 (seven teens and seven adults) from First Baptist Church of Suffolk made this trip to work with the Surbers and their missionary associates. Our desire was to minister to the Haitian people in a variety of ways.

Some members of our mission team are in the medical field. They were able to do field clinics in four communities in and around Montrouis, Haiti.

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Each morning, people with all kinds of physical needs would come for help. They got exams and medicine, but also much more. They got loved and prayed for by our medical team and the teens assisting them.

Other team members were conducting soccer camps. In Haiti, it’s pretty easy to draw an enthusiastic crowd of kids when you show up with a soccer ball. We had a blast playing with these kids, and showing love to them.

During water breaks, we were not only able to offer cups of cold water, but also the “living water” of the gospel that Jesus speaks of in the fourth chapter of John.

Like our medical team, our soccer team was able to touch four neighborhoods with Christ’s love.

Our teams left lots of medical supplies, soccer balls and Bibles. Even more important, we left the people with the knowledge that they had been loved in Jesus’ name. And that opens wide the door for more ministry in their neighborhoods.

In the afternoons, our team joined to conduct Vacation Bible School at an orphanage. The faces of these precious children will never leave our minds, our hearts or our prayers. One could powerfully sense the presence of Jesus among “the least of these.”

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. It is just 90 minutes by plane from Miami, but even before the plane touches down, a person with a window seat can look down and see a different world. Due to centuries of injustice, most Haitians are living in poverty most Americans can scarcely imagine.

Those of us who follow Jesus, a poor Nazarene who often “had no place to lay his head,” are given a special responsibility to care for those who are oppressed and vulnerable.

The Haitian people are for the most part a hard-working, kind, smart, and resilient people. Given a decent chance, with good and stable leadership, their economy and nation will flourish. Please pray for that.

But more than that, pray for the love of Jesus to fill every city and village.

I’m looking forward to the day when Jesus will right all wrongs, fix all that is broken, and renew His creation. That will happen when He returns. But that work has already begun, as Christ’s followers go forth in our community and around the world as agents of love.

Let’s get on with that good work today.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.