My Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Greetings. I hope and pray all is well with you, your wonderful families and all GOD has entrusted to you. May you have a wonderful, inspiring month of February full of blessing and love.
I have just returned from a mission trip to Haiti and quite frankly, am still reeling from that experience. Never having traveled to Haiti before, I had heard a lot of stories from a lot of people and of course, had made up my own preconceived notions, mainly that Haiti was hopeless. Arriving in Haiti I was first overwhelmed by the inability to properly communicate with our Haitian friends due to not speaking Creole. I can’t believe how frustrated I still am by that inability – makes me feel moronic, makes me feel frustrated, makes me feel great loss. I was next overwhelmed by the unimaginably chaotic traffic which made me feel like I was caught up in a consuming swarm of fire ants. Next, I was overwhelmed by the constant, suffocating presence of garbage everywhere. This sense of overwhelming seemed to confirm my hopelessness for Haiti.
However, I next visited the school and found great hope, joy, faith and possibility there in the eyes and smiles and healthy bodies of the children at the school. These are children that First UMC of Port St. Lucie comes along beside with our financial, prayerful and relational support. I am hopeful and inspired that Haiti can be positively impacted and perhaps eventually changed by making a difference in the life of one child at a time which I have seen with my own eyes.
While now struggling with Haiti I am still inspired and revitalized by our Advent and Christmas season. We had such wonderful responses throughout the Advent season to our book study, all of the small groups, the sermon series and all of our activities during the Advent Season. Thank you for all you did to make the Advent/Christmas season such an inspiring time! Christmas Eve was particularly moving for me. We ended up hosting more than 1,000 people here on Christmas Eve in five different services!
It was a wonderful time of love, joy and peace yet I have just heard about one unfortunate person, a visitor to our church, who was asked to move out of someone’s seat three different times. My heart lurched at this news. By the grace of God this person has several good friends here and knows that our church wasn’t properly represented by her experience here on that lone day. But in today’s world, that would normally be enough for someone to decide that the church isn’t worth it, that God isn’t worth it.
To make a difference anywhere in today’s world I believe we need to focus on impacting one person at a time with love, grace, generosity, hospitality, forgiveness, and service just as Jesus demonstrated in the way He lived out his life here on earth. Whether in the streets of Limonade, Haiti or the pews of First UMC here in Port St. Lucie may we decide now to give whatever it takes to bring others to Christ whether it be our money, our prayers, our lives or even our seats. May we decide today to live our lives in such a Christ-like way in February that others will come to experience the eternal blessings of Christ by the way we lay ourselves down for them. Thank you. I am honored to be your pastor.
Bondye Beni Ou (Haiti’s way to say God Bless You).