Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Gospel and the Haitians

"Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" James 2:5

I received an e-mail from a friend today telling of a Christian physician volunteering in Haiti who....

"helped 80 critical, post-op patients, who will likely die anyway...she got to deliver the gospel message and minister to many."

This got me thinking about the spirituality of the Haitian people. I have participated in many medical clinics over the years and have found them to be Christians with a deep faith despite facing a life of overwhelming suffering. There are always exceptions, but by and large, these people cling to God and trust him for every little crumb of their daily bread that falls from the table. Can I prove this? No, I can't, but listen to the stories on the news. Watch the people marching through the streets singing hymns. Listen to the words of the survivors trapped under the rubble for days at a time. Hoping, trusting and praying to the Lord. They say there are no atheists in foxholes and the Haitian people have been trapped in a foxhole of the violence of unimaginable poverty. Here's a quote from a woman who was trapped under the rubble with her daughter for over a week, who watched her daughter slowly die:

I consoled my daughter, and we started singing. We sang, "Keep me, keep me, God of love, give me a safe place to stay close to you. Let me find a place to hide behind you, and I know you will never leave me." I told God, "If it is your will for me to die, send your angels to come get me and receive me into your kingdom, but if your will is for me to stay alive, keep me alive so I can testify to the miracles you've performed in my life." I just sang and prayed to God to let me live so that I could live a spiritual life for him.

Do the folks in Haiti need the gospel preached to them right now in the midst of this tragedy upon tragedy? No, I don't think so. I think they understand and relate much more to the life and suffering of the poor carpenter from Nazareth than we can begin to imagine. They need our love, support, prayers and cups of cold water given to them in the name of Jesus. In my song, Jewel of the Caribbean I tried to express my awe for their faith: "I don't think that I deserve to tie your shoes until I have walked a mile in your shadows." I believe the Haitian people will teach us what it means to live out the gospel and truly trust God in the worst of circumstances. Indeed, it was the result of my first trips to Haiti that caused me to re-examine my life and down-size and learn to appreciate more with less and change my priorities.

Father Scanlon wrote this in an article as a result of his time ministering in rural Mexico.

In hearing the gospel the poor have discovered the richness of God's love and the value of their own lives. That wisdom ennobles them as well as enables them. It enables them to be free in spirit no matter how burdened in body. No need for them to wait for their "pie in the sky" to make this world bearable. It is bearable because the poor carpenter from Nazareth chose to be their blood-brother. In their poverty they lay claim to a special identity and intimacy reserved to God's privileged ones. The first shall be last. The depossessed will be repossessed. Being God's preferential choice, they will be in the kingdom before us to welcome us as we straggle in. Since in some measure our industrialist/capitalist ways helped put them there, they will surely welcome us and forgive us. Although we must energetically dedicate ourselves to battle poverty and injustice, at the same time we must be humble enough to concede that it is the impoverished who enrich us and gift us with more than we can offer in return. Part of their gift is the invitation to share in their kingdom.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God."


Blogger George Weis said...

That Lady's words were wonderfully beautiful! WOW... loved that... Prais to Jesus Christ... glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit! I believe the glory of our God is and will shine through these dear people.


January 23, 2010 7:51 AM  
Blogger Ray Foucher said...

God loves the people of Haiti. God loves all of us. He allows us to exercise our free wills and that sometimes brings very negative results. The true God is a God of love who wouldn't hurt anyone. He is also a God who respects human free will (He did not make robots who can’t love Him back) and when people or a nation reject Him openly or through their lifestyle choices He, being a gentleman, turns away; He does not impose His presence where it is not desired. Then the destroyer, Satan, moves in and causes death and destruction and blames it on God. See more info Makes a lot more sense than what most religious people will tell you. God does not punish, He weeps when His children in Haiti or anywhere else suffer tragedy and He asks us to help them in their need. And, as you mention, perhaps the Haitian people will teach us something of what it means to live out the gospel as they live through this tragedy.

January 23, 2010 11:32 AM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Don't forget that Catholics have not yet heard the Gospel message.

January 23, 2010 12:46 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Yeah, exactly. Haiti is 80-90 percent Catholic so maybe that's what the physician must have assumed. So sad. I wondered if she asked them first if they wanted to hear the gospel?

January 23, 2010 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Owen said...

God bless you Russ. Thank you for sharing this. Thank God for the depth of grace in that mother's soul.

And, yes, too often mixed with genuine care are a spiritual arrogance and a spiritual ignorance.

January 23, 2010 11:35 PM  

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