9 Ways We Advance

There are so many of us standing in disbelief, confusion, despair, outrage over the Charlottsville events and the rallies this weekend. We are longing for change and freedom for our fellow Americans who are still oppressed here. And it reminded me of my time in Haiti.

Right before we landed, the Lord impressed upon me that the Haitian people were my family. He told me that I wasn’t to do anything for them, they were more than capable, but I was to be with them, hand in hand.

There's a distinct difference between meeting a need, and being with someone in their need. The latter is harder for me. As Americans, we are very good at "fixing" things. And if we can't identify a way to fix it, often it becomes easier to not look at the problem.

In Haiti, being with them would honor them, show them respect, tone down my need to fix things, and allow me to be present in their poverty and in my abundance. For my fellow Americans that are hated, feared and rejected for the color of their skin, Am I able to be present in my favor and their oppression? 

That’s a tough place to stay. Guilt knocks regularly on that door. My rich, white guilt doesn't benefit anyone either. 

I asked the Lord to let longing to take the place of guilt. Served with longing is the only thing that satisfies, and that is hope. I have come to understand, this earthly life feels sometimes like it’s a see-saw of Hope and Longing. In Haiti, I was teetering back and forth, from one to another. Here, too.

I penned the rest of this blog early on in the summer, right after we got back, but much of it fits the current landscape we are experiencing on our own soil. 

Whether your prayer and hope is for Haiti, America or both, my hope is for all of us to move together to advance the cause of the poor and oppressed. 

Here's how we can do that: 

On our second night in Haiti, there was a song that rang so real in my soul that I thought for certain it was written just for my ears, just for this summer night in a concrete church, with no doors, and no evidence of the kinds of walls I know how to build. It was a simple lyric, a simple message of Hope, and a deep meaning that continues to speak to my longing heart. 

When I heard it, I felt the teeter of Hope I needed. It was this word that we sang in roaring chorus over and over again: 

N’ap Avanse (Na-paw-vawn-say): Meaning, We Advance. 

Mickey and I worked together to coordinate this trip for the team. We knew that there were things on the way that God wanted us to see, things that would change us. We felt many times that we were walking through mud on our way to Haiti. We struggled, we persisted. We continually submitted our plans, our fears, our failures to the Lord's will.

Most often, we have to fight our way through to advance. 

It seemed even before our arrival, To advance, was the will of the Father.

In our struggle, N’ap Avanse.

Upon our arrival, when I surveyed the place where a few from our church had been faithfully serving and building for the last 12 years, even as those that served alongside them have come or gone, I felt the truth of these words deeply. See, whether there are two or twelve, whether the progress is evident or hidden,

In our faithfulness, N’ap Avanse.

When honesty about our differences leads to repentance and embrace. When we know what we do, and when we confess that we know not what we do, Nor do we know how it affects our neighbor, our brother and sister.

In our confession, N’ap Avanse

When we realize that as children of God we are the same. Our desires for our children, our love for our families, our joy in song, and our frustration in human weakness are not isolated to one nation or people. And as Believers, we are of the same Spirit, clinging to the same Truth, pouring out the same Love, living in the same Hope.

In our unity, N’ap Avanse.

When the joy we bring comes wrapped in simple things, like, glowsticks, silly string and teddy bears. When it’s sung in a chorus of Hallelujah by gentle, young men, or danced on a catwalk by a parade of giggly girls. When love equals leaving the electricity on all night and inviting new friends to return...soon...please.

In our kindness, N’ap Avanse.

When both our lands seem desperate and dry in different ways, and our hearts are broken for more things than we can give a name. When the need is great in our prayers for both Americans and for Haitians.

In the name of Jesus, we pray, N’ap Avanse.

When the palm trees that sway in your village look the same as the ones in my neighborhood. May they both serve to remind us of the verse in Matthew, that had the people of Jerusalem breaking palm branches to welcome the One who would make all things new, Hosanna in the Highest. For Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord and blessed are we that He will return to us.

In our longing for Christ’s return, N’ap Avanse.

Even when those who have the most, look just as hopeless as the least. When it seems as though there are so many desperate souls, living as a motorist on a virtual Haitian street, wishing it would slow down, zooming through the day with no place to go, without rest for their heavy head, narrowly focused, exposed and without a helmet, when death is just one wrong turn away. May our heart's continue to break for the least of these. May we continue to carry compassion into the darkest streets. 

Even in these pilgrim days, N’ap Avanse.

Together, N’ap Avanse.