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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dear Fellow Missionary -An Open Plea

Dear Fellow Missionary,

You and I have never met. Let me say that again. You and I have never met. Let’s say it one more time so you truly understand…we have never met. I couldn’t pick you out in a crowd. I do not know you! Even though we have never met, you claim to know so much about me. You cast aspersions on my integrity and encourage doubts about the ministries to which I am attached. Your blog and Facebook comments are filled with negative remarks about me. You spread gossip and you slander my name to your readers, hinting at my misdeeds without offering explanation or evidence to substantiate your claims.

I have sat back, silently, watching as my name and reputation were drug through the mud. I have listened as the integrity of organizations that I am attached to have not only been questioned, but also slandered and degraded. I have been falsely and baselessly accused over and over and over again. Now, through your influence, other missionaries who have never met me are questioning me. I can no longer go anywhere in Haiti without hearing rumors, whispers, and lies.
But please know this, I am not going anywhere. I am determined to stand my ground. I have chosen to count it all joy to have my reputation destroyed. My reputation is of no account to me. It is Christ whom I serve. I am ok with being disliked, misunderstood, and even hated. I gladly lay my reputation at the feet of the One who suffered shame and abuse and condemnation for me.
Over these last few months I have sought to do just this and respond with grace to these attacks:

  • When you and your friends persecuted me- I turned my cheek.“To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also…
  • When you and your friends took my shirt- I offered my coat. “…and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.” Luke 6:29
  • When you bore false witness against me- I forgave. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:44
  • When you raided the Giving Hope Rescue Mission crèche and falsely caused the arrest of an innocent man- I stayed silent. “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:20
  • When you slandered me in front of my missionaries and staff and had the crèche’s children in tears as they watched their “papa” (the Haitian crèche director) drug off in handcuffs- I stayed silent. “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12
  • When you trespassed into my personal apartment at Club Indigo and removed a crèche child in front of my children- I stayed silent. “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15
  • When you harbored this child in your home- a child whom we have loved and raised for almost two years- I stayed silent. “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
  • When you threw around the words “investigation” and “trafficking” at Club Indigo, causing our missionaries to be evicted and costing us thousands of dollars- I stayed silent. “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called…” 1 Peter 3:9
  • When you called me a pathological liar- I stayed silent.“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Matthew 5:11
  • When you claimed the child never had HIV and didn’t find healing through antivirals and God’s grace- I stayed silent. “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:3
  • When you called me unethical and dismissed and demonized the work I have given my life and heart to do- I stayed silent. “They repay me evil for the good I have done; though I have tried to do good to them, they hurl accusations at me.” Psalm 38:20
  • When you and your friends sent letters to my own staff actually calling me a sociopath and comparing me to Charles Manson- I stayed silent. “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:17-18
  • When you falsely reported me, belittled me, and called my motives and my heart into question- I stayed silent. “They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved.” Psalm 35:12

But now your accusations and slander are no longer merely impacting me. If it were only my reputation and future on the line, I could still stay silent. If the only cost of your words and actions were more shame and sorrow for me, I wouldn’t say a word. But now things have changed. Now your slander and actions have impacted my adoptive parents and their adoptions, threatening the futures of precious families. I simply cannot stay silent anymore!

Today I am choosing to speak up. Please understand, I do not do this to destroy you, but to seek reconciliation. To date you have ignored my emails requesting an opportunity to talk and reconcile, so now I would like to make that request public.
I have thrown my sword on the ground and I will not be moved. My armor is on and there is an army standing alongside of me ready to defend these adoptions and these vulnerable children.“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” Psalm 82:3

My fellow missionary, on your blog you speak much about the challenges in Haiti, but let me make this quite clear: It is you and I that are the problem!
  • Yes, Haiti is poor.
  • Yes, education is needed.
  • Yes, there is an orphan crisis.
  • Yes, there is corruption.
  • Yes, there are environmental issues and health issues and employment issues and international issues…

But the truth of the matter is that we are the problem!

No wonder so many people don’t want to set foot into church buildings. No wonder so many people don’t want to get involved in ministries. No wonder the word “missionary” often carries a bad connotation and that Christianity often has so little impact and carries so little weight.

Yes, my fellow missionary, I realize that if we did meet, we probably wouldn’t see eye to eye. Yes, we are very different.

But please remember this, we have the most important thing on earth in common. You and I serve the same God! We are brothers and sisters under the same King. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” Ephesians 2:19

Yes, you have been serving longer in Haiti than I have and yes, we are from two different generations, but why didn’t you use that wisdom and experience to reach out to me? Why didn’t you seek to discover what was really going on and meet me face to face before you passed judgment? Why didn’t you take me under your wing and seek to pour into me instead of sneaking behind my back, slandering without evidence and accusing without facts? My brother and sister, this should not be!

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

You say you seek justice, but sadly justice here in Haiti often only exists for those who have the most money and influence. I am not interested in such pseudo-justice. I seek what God has to say about justice. I seek His justice.

“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” Psalm 103:6
Can you imagine how different things would be if you and I simply worked together? Can you picture the impact we could have- you helping mothers keep their children, me helping those who truly cannot?

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

So here is my invitation to you:

I am publicly inviting you to my personal home to get to know me and my children. I will pay for your airline tickets. I will cover every cost. Please, sit in my living room and let me offer you some tea.  Judge me by my fruit, by my life, by my children. Please, call up the hundreds of adoptive and adopting parents who do know me and would vouch for my integrity. Speak to my Haitian partners and friends. Please call up my father, my brother, my friends. Research my life and judge me based on what you find. Call up my boss and ask him why he hired me. Call my pastor, sit with him and let him tell you what he knows first hand and has witnessed.

I am asking you…please do this. Not for my sake, but for the sake of those who are watching us profess a Christian faith that promises that its chief identifier, its very hallmark, is unshakable and unconditional love among its members. Where is that love in this situation? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

My fellow missionaries, please put down your stones. If you are willing to seek reconciliation and understanding, please contact me. We have a beautiful, albeit challenging, opportunity to demonstrate the power of Christ over conflict and of love over differences. Let’s rise up and lay aside all these petty distractions and bring our focus back to what we share- a love for and faith in the very same Prince of Peace.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Christian VS. Christian

The line in the sand has been drawn. You are on one side of the line, wondering why it has just been drawn before you. You look up to see a group of people whispering and pointing at you on the other side of the line. This group of people call themselves Christians. Ironically, you call yourself a Christian as well.

This is a story of the hidden war that goes on daily. It’s a war that no one really wants to talk about. It’s a war between one Christian and another Christian.  The line has been drawn – not by you, but by your accusers, the Christians on the other side. This line declares that you are guilty, and there is a distinct difference between you and them. You are wrong and they are right. This line represents discord.

The Christians who became your accusers begin to pick up stones. Now, these stones don’t look like normal stones, because they are secretly disguised. These stones are so wrapped up in deception, that the person holding the stone actually believes it is appropriate to pick it up and throw it at you. They may not even realize they are throwing stones at you because they are so blinded by the deception that so cunningly hides the true nature of the stones. They may not even realize that the process of bending over and looking for a stone even took place.

One of these stones is disguised as “justification.” The person who picked up this stone is convinced that they are doing the “right thing,” and has justified their action of picking up the stone. They are about to throw it at you, continuing to justify why it’s perfectly acceptable to throw the stone. And when the stone hits you, and you shriek in agony, you hear this person laughing. Why would this person be happy about your pain?

Another stone is secretly disguised as a “church meeting.” This person has called meetings with other people, and has become convinced that it is acceptable to throw this stone at you, because they sought what they would call “biblical counsel.” Unfortunately, it was at this “church meeting” that you were slandered and crucified. Someone from this group bends down to pick up a stone that is marked “borrowed offense” and throws it at you. All of a sudden, you realize that this person is a stranger. You look closer, and you start to feel your eyes well up with tears. Why is a complete stranger throwing this stone at you? You have never even met this person. How could they throw a stone at you without even an introduction? This person has never entered your home, met your children, or gotten one glimpse of your heart. Why didn't they judge you by your fruit? They haven’t even met your fruit, which happens to be your children. They pick up yet another stone, which says “false accusations.” You hang your head as this merciless stone is thrown at you. You try to duck and move, so that perhaps the stone will miss you, but it comes straight toward your heart. This hit brings deep hurt.

As you resolutely pull yourself up off the ground, you squint your eyes, because you see your friend, your neighbor, and your family member collecting stones. Surely, they are not about to throw them at you, are they? Being betrayed by a friend or someone you love and know well tastes like death. You stand there watching as your lifelong friend quickly collects a handful of stones, carefully deciding which one to throw first. One by one, these stones rip into your heart. You would rather be physically beaten than watch your own family member, friend, or neighbor holding these stones. You try to hide the tears that are flowing so freely now. And before you know it, you see another stone flying in the air, marked with words that depict everything you are passionately against. You live out Truth, yet the stone is marked "liar." Your life breathes purity, yet the stone is marked "perversion." You live a life of consecration, yet this stone calls you a "fraud." You cover your face while these so-called Christians continue throwing stones at you. You hear a crowd nearby that has slowly gathered to watch the war. You hear them whispering and you see them pointing fingers at you. You hear your name as people in the crowd start talking about you. You look around, wondering who is going to step forward and defend you. No one steps forward. You start looking around for places where you can run and hide. You hang your head in shame and embarrassment.

You are numb, weary, bruised, and bleeding. You fall to your knees due to the excruciating pain that has been inflicted upon you by these stones. You realize that your heart hurts worse than your physical body. You feel misunderstood. You feel like you are going into battle with your armor on. You are on top of a horse, right on the front lines, and yet you have been beaten up so badly that you feel like you are about to fall off. You feel like giving up.

All of a sudden, you feel someone’s hand upon your shoulder, the hand of a Man who somewhat resembles you. Tears are streaming down His face. He appears to have been in the exact same war as you. Blood is streaming down His body, and you notice that this Man bears the very same scars as you. His wounds match your wounds. His deep cuts are identical to your cuts. He walks over to where the line has been drawn in the sand, and He begins to erase it. His blood is dripping over the spot where the line had once appeared so clearly. He walks over to your accusers and whispers into their ears, telling them to drop their stones. He weeps because He has to watch His children throw stones at one another. Some can’t hear Him whisper into their ears, because their hearts have turned into stones as cold as the ones they hold in their hands.

He turns to you and lifts you up, just as a father carries his beloved child on his back. He tells you that you can rest in Him. He sits you down and begins to wash your feet with His tears, and lets them fall upon your open wounds. He teaches you how to take the very stones that were thrown at you and build an altar with them, where you can simply worship Him. You feel a peaceful blanket of grace surround you as you weep, because you feel a healing balm enter the depths of your heart. This Man hands you His sword, and you realize your strength has returned. It is a deeper strength than you have ever known. You watch this Man go before you, and begin to prepare a path for you. He tells you to be still and know that He is God. Many weapons may be formed. Many weapons may even be used against you – but none will prosper.

---to be continued.

(and now for my rambling...)

There are many things that grieve my heart, but the fact that Christians can’t get along makes the grieving more intense. I don’t understand why two professing Christians can’t sit down and handle things biblically. Why can’t they talk it out until reconciliation is made? Why are Christians slaughtering other Christians almost daily?  Why must there be so much discord amongst Christians? Why can’t we all get along? Why must unity be so difficult? No wonder people don’t want to walk into a church building!

I have heard it said more than once that many people consider a bar safer then a church. This has got to change! I understand there are some people you can’t reconcile with. You try and try, but for some reason they have a door inside of their hearts that slams shut every time you go knocking. You try to apologize and perform acts of kindness in order to seek reconciliation, but they slam the door shut in your face and choose to hold a grudge. You even try and reconcile when you were the one who was wronged, and yet nothing but revenge drips from their tongues and actions.

This kind of thing disgusts me. I can’t quite wrap my brain around it. I guess that’s because I grew up in a home where you “duked” it out until reconciliation was made. I love the story of a couple in marriage counseling, who could not agree on some particular issues. The fighting and arguing was fierce between them. The pastor asks them a simple question: “So, which one of you is gonna die today?” Why can't we die daily to our flesh and choose to walk in the Spirit? Why can’t we lay down our need to be right? We have no business seeking what we consider to be justice. We need to touch the heart of God, and find out what He considers to be justice. If my young children can face their biological parents who did horrors to them, and in doing so still choose forgiveness, then why can’t we? If the mother who just lost her children to a horrendous murder can visit the murderer in prison, and seek reconciliation, then why can’t we all find some way to get along? If the wife can forgive the drunk driver who just killed her husband and newborn baby, why can’t we simply forgive each other? What do we gain from revenge? What does it really prove? How can destroying another Christian truly make you feel like you did the right thing? 

I am sick and tired of church splits, organizations bashing one another, women not being able to bridle their tongues, and people not even talking to their own family members. We say we want revival and for professing Christians to actually be the Church. Well, then, let’s lay down our need to be right and start being Jesus to one another!

To put it simply, I do not have time to put up with discord, unnecessary drama, gossip, slander, or anything that is not holy. There is never an excuse to talk about another person in a negative light – end of story.

Let's choose to say only that which we would want quoted.
We have three family rules in my home:
1) First Time Obedience
2) Sweetness or Silence
3) Be Givers Not Takers

I think it’s time we all be Sweet or Silent. Let us become consumed with loving our Jesus, becoming intimate with Him, taking care of our spouses, pouring into our kids, and cleaning our homes and hearts out!

May our hearts break for the things that break the heart of our precious Lord Jesus. May we be too consumed with serving our Lord that we have no time for "unnecessary nonsense." And may we stay away from "idle chatter,” only speaking what is lovely and what will bring Glory to our God.

And let us lay down our stones. Let us not even consider picking one up. Let us not even consider looking for stones!

If you are like the person in my story, and have had many stones thrown at you, may you be rest assured that you didn't go through that trial alone. As the leader of an organization, I can testify to the “unnecessary drama” that comes about at times. But when stones begin to fly, I have learned to pick them up, build an altar, and worship the Lord. Go build your altar and worship the God who goes before us!

You are called.
You are anointed.
You are equipped.
You are more than a conqueror.
You are here for such a time as this.
You are royalty.
You are a sanctuary.
You have been called out of darkness and into His light!
You are forgiven.
You are cherished.
You are wanted.
You are needed.
You are LOVED! ......and so shall you be treated.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to Survive the Mission Field

~My Personal Top Ten~

...just another blog written on the rooftop of Haiti.

So, you want to be a missionary, eh? Well, here is my official missionary advice. Feel free to take it or leave it. 

This advice describes how I have successfully survived the mission field with my bazillion children, along with over 80 employees, over 160 Haitian children, and two organizations I help to oversee – whew!  Now of course I probably need to enter some kind of ministry rehab for burnt out missionaries, but thats another blog for another time. Ha- we will visit that topic very soon. ;)

1. The Mission Field Starts With Your Family
Your mission field first begins with your family. If you are having marital issues, child behavioral issues, extended family conflicts, etc., going to the mission field will not solve those problems. Any problems you bring to the mission field will only be magnified. Your mission field must first be your family. So many ministers pour into others, while their family gets the "leftovers." Pastor, teach, evangelize, and minister to your family first before anyone else. When your family is in order, you will find that they are the ones who spur you on to pour into others. Your work becomes a ministry in which the family pours out together, not just the father. If you are aching to go to the mission field, try visiting your extended family members, and practice serving them first. Wash their feet for a season. Seek reconciliation in your relationships with them, even if you have been wronged. Serve them first! Don't ever leave to go overseas with bitterness in your heart. I will say it again – seek reconciliation even if you have been wronged. We have no business going overseas if our home life is not in order – end of story. The Gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be lived out daily around the dinnter table- before it enters the mission field.  May the strength of our ministry reflect the strength of our home!

2. Make it Your Goal to Wash Feet
Don't go overseas to promote yourself, acquire followers or supporters, or to teach your ways to the people. Go wash their feet. Let me say that again: go wash their feet! Go carry water for them. Go learn about their culture. Go sit and hand-wash clothes with them. Go help them sweep their dirt floors and bury their loved ones. Sit and tell jokes with them. Go be Jesus in real life to them. Once you build their trust and respect, I am telling you, all doors will be open! Then you can preach the Gospel. Then you can teach them how to garden and make a living for their families. We are not better than the vulnerable and weak. If you think you are, then please don't enter the mission field. You should be able to enter the homes of the poorest of the poor, and treat them the same way you would treat famous kings and queens. Meet their needs before attempting to shove the Gospel down their throats. Don't preach to a hungry person without feeding him first! Live out the Gospel – don't just preach it!

3. Live Debt-Free and Free to Give
My darling, dearest future missionaries who may read this, please hear my heart. If you have thousands and thousands of dollars in debt, please spare us all of the plea letters asking for support. Pay off your debt before you touch the mission field. Your finances need to be in order. Those who are good stewards with the little they have will be trusted with more. Those who are not good stewards with the little they have will only make the little debt turn into a bigger debt. Get rid of the extra, and live simply. I know what it feels like to be the single mom who has to work for every penny and take on extra jobs just to put food on the table. If you do not have a good work ethic in the good ol’ USA, the mission field is not your escape. Whether you agree with Dave Ramsey or not, some of his principles have saved us countless of times! Oh, how we love that emergency fund! Many times we had to say goodbye to it – but thankfully, it was there! Live debt-free so that you have the freedom to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE...and then give some more! Give until it hurts!

4. Learn the Language
Learn the Language. I was an ignorant fool before I learned to speak Creole. But once I did learn it, it was like a whole new world opened up, and all made sense. Thankfully, my kids became fluent, and have since become my translators (as I have been told that my Creole is horrendous, with my strong accent and high-pitched voice). I definitely have lots to learn – but I try, and the Haitian people appreciate the effort. I may get more laughs than I would like, but it works! Remember, you don't have to speak the language perfectly, but at least try! Learning Creole has given me the opportunity to sit amongst the Haitians in their dirt huts and connect with them, heart to heart.

5. Say “Goodbye” to the Missionary Handbook
I am ready to throw away all those missionary handbooks that tell you to dress in your worst clothing and leave all your nice items at home. I will never forget attending a "World Blitz" at my church. I was about to go to Bulgaria and Romania, and I had to go through a time of training. (you can read about this in my blog called "Confessions of a Missionary: Part 1") I remember looking the part. I had found my ugliest, oldest, stain-ridden clothes. I was rocking the fanny pack, the missionary braids, and even the missionary bandanna. I had my "Save the World Blitz" t-shirt on with my unmatched long skirt. If I remember right, I was also sporting a pair of Keds tennis shoes – and socks to match the t-shirt, of course! (Oh, and I am pretty sure I had the matching hair scrunchie as well!) I took out my earrings – heaven forbid they get stolen! (sarcasm) I was ready to go save Bulgaria and Romania, and I had the t-shirt to prove it! Well, I will never forget getting off the airplane and being completely ticked off, because all the Bulgarians looked and dressed nicer then me. I looked ridiculous. All I wanted to do was go shopping for new clothes. I was horrified when I realized that all I had prepared and packed for was not what this country needed. Then it hit me. Wait, aren't we representing Christ and the very heart of God? Surely, even Jesus back in Bible times didn’t look as ridiculous as I do! I remember feeling like a complete idiot, going from church to church preaching the Gospel, all the while realizing there had to be more. I can almost guarantee you those churches wouldn’t remember me today! I am thinking it's time for a new missionary handbook to be written. We have got to lay this prideful missionary spirit down that says, "We know best." The truth is that oftentimes, we don't know best, and it’s time to allow God to teach us what it really means to be on the mission field.  So Reflect Jesus well on the mission field! 

6. Be Willing to Bleed, Suffer, and Die
Don't enter the mission field if you are not willing to bleed, suffer, and die for your neighbors. If you are not there yet, then please save money on newsletters and business cards, and just make your community and family your mission field for a season. I’m pretty sure I don't need to go into any more detail. Be willing to bleed, suffer, and die, or don’t go – end of story.

7. Don't Harass the Churches
Prospective missionaries often go from church to church asking for financial support, and I would love to see that changed! Certainly, there must be another way! Now, I am not saying that it is wrong to go from church to church, but we must be careful to not cast a vision without actually acting upon it. Churches in America have been burned by missionaries overseas who end up abusing the finances they receive. Don't quote me if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure the Bible says, “Go into all the world, preach the Gospel, and make disciples of men.” If that is the case, I am pretty sure that we as a Church have been wrong. Instead of simply going, we are hitting up every church in America, sucking the Church dry for our building projects. We are too busy sending out prayer cards and newsletters when we should be sitting and washing our neighbors’ feet. We need to seek the heart of God and figure out what Scripture says about raising funds – there has to be another way!

8. A Word to the Parents
Dear parents, please stop sending your rebellious teenagers overseas, thinking that living in a third world country will change them. If I had a dollar for every parent who wanted to send their rebellious teen to me, I could possibly feed a section of Haiti! I'm not sure what the reasoning is when you send your teenagers to a foreign country and expect a mission organization to fix them. Can you please just step it up? Go hold them until they heal. Go tackle them to the ground, and make sure they know you are completely for them, and love them. Stop emailing me, because, no, I will not take your rebellious teenager. But I would be glad to pray for you and would encourage you to hold them until they heal. Parenting doesn't stop when children become teenagers. When they hit the teen stage, it simply means that we as parents have to step it up and parent them with a purpose and a passion! Trust me I am parenting 6 teenagers this year, and I personally understand how difficult it is.  I feel your pain- but please keep them off the mission field for now. Let their schools be their mission fields. ;)

9. Avoid Zeal Without Knowledge
I had a missionary ask to serve alongside of me. I said “no,” and here is the reason why: I went on a trip with this person, and while I was impressed by their passion and zeal for the people of Haiti, I was disappointed by their behavior in the following situations:

- During times when I was sharing or preaching, this person would walk away in the middle of the ministry time because they “felt led” to go do something else. I had a hard time believing it was the Holy Spirit’s leading, because it was both rude and disrespectful.  

- This person kept claiming that they had come to wash my feet, but instead they had made lists of things in the ministry that needed to be fixed. One time, this person humiliated me in front of my staff by pointing out all my flaws (as if I don't already know them!).

- This person would always abandon their post. They didn't receive orders, but only tried to interpret the orders. I remember a time at the market, when this person had been given a specific job to accomplish, but abandoned it to go preach the Gospel.

- This person was always defensive and constantly played the devil’s advocate, while continuously talking about their strengths and what they could do for the ministry.

The Bible clearly says in Luke 14:10, “But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.”

I could possibly write a book titled "What Not to Do with Your Non-Profit.” However, one thing that has definitely helped our ministry is hiring the right people! We have zero strife amongst the leadership and no drama – just pure JESUS and teamwork, having the same mind-set and aim to build God's kingdom, not our own! (Now please note it took me a long time to get there! I have made my fair share of missionary mistakes!)

So, be careful, my friends. Don't get caught up in hype and zeal. Rather, let's use our God-given brains and allow God to teach us how to survive the mission field in a biblical way! Let's take the lowest place and serve!

10. How I Supernaturally Funded and Self-Supported My Family
Just because you have a business card, website, and a "big dream" does not make you a missionary. I remember when I first went to live in Haiti. I had no business cards (and still don't), no website, no brochures, and had never sent a newsletter. I had a clear word from the Lord to not ask a single person for money. I have only asked for money once, and that was when I asked the church I grew up in, and where my father pastored. I still to this day do not have a single church supporting me or the ministry. I remember one of the board members even sent me a check for $200.00, saying they would get back with me. Well, they never did get back with me. I remember sitting in Haiti, in tears, thinking, How can a church that I grew up in, where my father pastored, not support me? If they could at least send me one dollar a month, that would at least heal this church wound that has entered my heart.

I had to sit back and watch friends I had grown up with in youth group get monthly support because their family members were on the board. But somehow the single lady with a bazillion kids, whose father was the pastor, gets ignored? I was having a pity party, asking the Lord how was I going to do this if I had no supporters. Well, that is where I was wrong. I was asking God how I was going to do this. But in reality, It should never be about me and you. It's about God – end of story! I was in the wrong mind-set! Somehow I had made this whole thing about me, when it actually had nothing to do with me.

So, here is how we have survived the mission field: we sold everything! We sold it all. We supported ourselves with the supernatural help of God. We sold our car and our belongings, and traded them in for the Haitian people. We chose to live amongst the people of Haiti for three years, on a rooftop. I have never asked a single person for money other than my father's church – and I plan to keep it that way. God supernaturally provided! The ministry exploded once I finally surrendered! I stepped out and allowed God to step in and run this mission. We need to stop thinking that we have something to accomplish on the mission field. Let us abandon ourselves! Let us crucify ourselves, and choose to die daily to our flesh! May we crush our flesh, and tell our Spirit to rise! May we look, smell, walk, talk, and breathe like Jesus! Amazing and miraculous things happen when we step out and allow God to step in. I am living proof of this! There is no way some young, very broken girl like me could have done this! I did nothing other than crucify myself in Christ! I am not amazing – I simply said “yes” to dying to myself.

(Bonus Advice...) If You Don't Like the People or the Country, Go Home!
If you don't like the country, please don't move there. One of my biggest irritations is when missionaries dislike the native people. As I’ve worked here in Haiti, I’ve constantly been appalled at how many missionaries dislike Haitians. I don't understand it. I know one organization that decided they couldn't trust any Haitians, so they fired all their Haitian staff and only have Americans running the mission. I would like to ask them why they are even in Haiti in the first place! Now, don't get me wrong. I, too, have fired Haitian staff due to lack of integrity, etc. But what I am learning about the Haitian people is that many of them just don't know another way of living. There is such a lack of "men" in Haiti, men willing to step up and do the right thing. But isn't that why we are in Haiti? Isn’t our desire to disciple and reach out to the Haitian people? I am praying for godly masculinity and femininity to be restored in this country! I pray that God gives you an unconditional love for His people! – may you see them through His eyes.

(And a Final Note to Pastors and Churches...)
Here is my advice to pastors who are considering supporting a ministry through their church. What I have noticed is this: many individuals who couldn't survive working in ministry in the U.S. flock to different countries. There are people who were on food stamps while living in the U.S. now making eighty thousand dollar yearly incomes on the mission field. ( I am not bashing people who need govt assistance!- just an observation) We have unstable, unhealthy, and spiritually, emotionally and mentally ill people running ministries overseas. Actually, it is probably the same with many churches today. We have unhealthy pastors – pastoring! The difference is this: it seems that we missionaries can get away with a lot more, due to the fact that we are overseas and just send a newsletter or post a blog from time to time.

Here is what I recommend you do before you decide to support a missionary:

1. If possible, go to the country they are in and visit them. Sometimes websites and social media sites do not portray truth, but only cast a vision.

2. “Stalk” the prospective candidate on the Internet. Some missionaries tend to “flaunt” their work in a sense. For example, they’ll buy a poor person a plate of food, and then brag about it by posting a picture on Facebook or Twitter. If you see something like that happening, consider it to be a red flag!

3. If the missionary bashes other people or talks against another organization – run! If they are willing to talk negatively toward their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s another red flag! There is never any excuse for missionaries to trash one another – end of story! We need to control our tongues! “Out of the heart the mouth speaks” – listen to what is in the person’s heart, and listen with discernment.

4. I have seen many missionaries start something and then end it after only a year or two. I am tired of seeing marriages fall apart on the mission field. I am tired of hearing about the missionaries who fall into sexual temptation. Before you support someone, make your expectations "over the top" clear! Keep the person accountable! Those of us who have nothing to hide will have no issues with showing you our bank statements and financial dealings. Make sure there is a level of accountability!  Also, maybe you are just called to GIVE with no expectations- if that is the case, then obey.  Don't listen to me by any means.  I am just a professional rambler! ;)

5). We have lots of dreamers, but not a whole lot of doers! A church should be known for its sending capacity, not its seating capacity! Set a clear "Code of Conduct" for the missionaries your church supports. Have someone in your congregation oversee this area. Make sure communication and organization are extremely detailed and sound. Search the Scriptures, and find out exactly what God has to say about all this. Touch His heart first, before touching the hearts of missionaries. Once you have touched His heart, He will lead you to the missionaries you are supposed to send, support, and strengthen!