“Rarely do you see, ‘Hey, here’s me on a jet ski in Haiti,’ or, ‘Look at me, I’m snorkeling in Haiti…’ But Haiti is gorgeous, it’s beautiful, and there’s a lot to offer. We feel like the church is uniquely positioned to be the step between where our thinking is based now—which is, ‘You only go to Haiti for mission trips’—to where Haiti could be: A destination.”
Griffith adds, “Initially, our minds are conditioned to feel bad. You do. ‘How can I go down there and stay in an air-conditioned room and eat nice food?’ Obviously, we’re not the first ones saying this—even from within the church. Steve Corbett released a book a few years ago titled, When Helping Hurts: How To Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting The Poor…And Yourself (buy), and it has made ripples on how we think about engaging, serving the poor, and walking with them.
“This can be a tricky conversation because this is not a very easy message for some people to ‘get.’ Just yesterday one of our staff received a call from a lady who asked, ‘I get the whole creating jobs and mission tourism thing, but what, where and how are we going to really serve? Like, how are we…when are my kids going to really get dirty and dig holes.’ We try our best to explain, ‘If we do that, we’re actually taking a job away from a Haitian. So, we’re going to give you some opportunities to see the work and to see what’s happening in kid’s lives by doing some sort of service, but not in the traditional way that you’re used to…’ So, in a lot of ways, we kind-of just have to put it out there and let it sit for a little bit. Trusting, and allowing for people to really chew on it.”
And like Stuart after his first rock-chipping experience, it’s now decades later—even after years of leading and participating in “traditional” mission trips in these areas—that he and the team are truly beginning to realize what God has intended. Furthermore, Stuart even challenged me, personally, to consider taking a visit to Ikondo—with no other intentions than to just relax, unwind, and enjoy. Admittedly, I had an immediate, subconsciously “huh” moment.
So, since bringing up the subject of Ikondo leaves us with more questions than answers—after all, even I’m learning that’s part of the deprogramming process—we fielded a few questions for Stuart and Griffith to answer, in the hopes that some of you might also attempt to answer them for yourself by actually going there (and if you do, please don’t forget to buy a real Haitian-made t-shirt, or two).
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