Friend or Foe?

On Christmas Eve December 24th, 2015 We See Jesus Ministries went to deliver Sawyer clean water filters to Canaan, Haiti. Canaan became a city after the earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12, 2010. Now more than 150 families have access to clean drinking water. Toward the end of our time on Christmas Eve the crowd got frustrated and restless. There was abit of screaming as well. As we were getting ready to leave the man in the picture hit Luckner’s arm and grabbed about 8-10 buckets and started walking off with them. Also someone else grabbed about 5 buckets and started to walk off with them as well. Then Brandon Thomas and I ran after the two men and we both ripped the buckets out of their hands. I am glad Brandon was ride or die. It was only by the mercy and grace of God that this situation didn’t get really ugly. We told the people we will come back tomorrow and give more filters out then. Later I spoke to my Dad about what happened. Before he was a Christian he was from the street. He said something to me I will never forget. He said, “buddy, if you would have gotten robbed you couldn’t go back to that neighborhood because if they rob you once they will rob you every time.” It was a very tiring and frustrating time. I learned that I must never allow their desperation to become my frustration. So we prayed and forgave the people who tried to steal from us. But we were determinded to give to them, not to be robbed by them. 

On Christmas Day December 25th, 2015 we returned back to Canaan, Haiti. The man in the picture who tried to steal from us the day before apologized to us the next day. He went from stealing from us to being our security guard. As we were walking through the neighborhood he said, “don’t worry you are in my neighborhood, nothing will happen to you.” He went from being a perpetrator to a protector. That really was a crazy day. As we returned back to the church to get more water filters to pass out, our Haitian team members told us that the crowd was throwing rocks at the church. Then we called the police and they drove around the corner to come help calm the crowd down. So the police, the young man in the picture and a few of his friends helped us complete the Canaan, Haiti clean water project. I didn’t anticipate the crowd getting that wild, but I was reminded again why we are working in Haiti. Poverty leads to desperation and desperation can easily become violent. I am thankful that God protected my family and our team. It could have got really ugly fast. The power of the gospel is manifested when you love your enemies. The transforming work of gospel is manifested when love looks fear in the face and says no. Remember this, you can’t love people you are afraid of. Perfect love casts out all fear.

Poverty & Injustice 

On December 23, 2015 We See Jesus Ministries and our Haitian partners visited the children’s prison in Delmas, Haiti. Delmas is a suburb of Port Au Prince, Haiti. Port Au Prince, Haiti is the 18th most dangerous city in the whole world. Our team was going to this prison for the third time. We were going to deliver dessert and soap so the young men would be able to clean their clothes. When we arrived there was a police pick up truck that had just arrived also with new mattresses for the kids. That was very encouraging. In spite of a great deal of poverty and injustice progress is happening in the poorest country in this hemisphere. As we were getting ready to see the kids there was a small problem. The kids were playing soccer and were dirty and smelly and they had no water at the prison for the boys and young men to shower. So at first they didn’t want us to see the kids in that dirty/smelly condition. So we ordered for (70 USD) a truck full of water so they could shower after we would leave. So we went into their cell block preached the gospel and passed out crackers, soda and soap to clean their clothes with. All of the young men received what we were delivering, some of the young men received Christ. It was also encouraging to see how well the police were treating the kids.

There was a young man in prison who was out helping everything go smoothly. His name was Makson. His story was very moving. I am not writing to say whether he is innocent or guilty. I am writing just to show you another reality. The reality of those who are poor and have no voice. Makson has been in prison for three years so far. He was accused of raping a young girl and getting her pregnant. In three years he has not seen a judge once. There was no DNA test proving him to be guilty. So when poverty is your reality you are actually guilty until proven innocent, unlike when you have money you are innocent until proven guilty. The deeper your pockets are the louder your voice is. If your pockets are empty you have no voice. He is not a victim of racism, he is afflicted by poverty and injustice is his reality. If he gets a just trial with a DNA test and is proven to be guilty then he needs to serve his due sentence. But what if he is not guilty? Then what? Precious years of his life may have been stolen simply because he is poor and the system, even where there is not racism, is corrupt. It is the government’s job to punish him and the church’s job to love and visit him. It is important that we don’t confuse these different but God ordained roles. All authority comes from God, but that does not mean all people use the authority God gave them correctly. To administer the authority God gave you correctly is called Justice. The more poverty there is, the more injustice there will be. The more poverty there is, the less police there will be. Remember police are just like you and I they don’t work for free because they to have mouthes to feed. As I write this I am sitting on a deck on an island off of Haiti watching my son play in the sand with his Haitian friends. The question I am asking myself is my son, Justice, has justice but what about Makson? What about the poor who have no representation? What about the Fatherless who have no defender on earth? What I am saying is that it is important that we leverage our voice, influence, relationships and resources for the poor

Bar Outreach  

After church on December 20th, 2015 at about 8:25 pm Rescue Church did an outreach to the bar across the street from the church. It is an El Salvadorian bar with bars on the windows. The music was loud, the lights were low, there was a man there drooling on himself. The owner was friendly, we were able to literally pray and give her prophetic words while she was bartending. We told her that God had a purpose for her life that was greater than passing out drinks. She allowed 6 of us to walk into her bar and hand out Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards to the people who were there. It was a pretty unique experience. Other people were prayed for, one guy gave my friend Joseph a hug and thanked him for the gift card. A few other guys were honest about saying they had already received a gift card when I went to give them one. A few others were prayed for. Some people didn’t want prayer, and a few didn’t want the gift card. All in all the people were pretty receptive considering how loud it was in the bar. Kindness is the seed that fertilizes the soil of men’s hearts. People respond to the gospel more when we extend a hand instead of pointing a finger. For a long time good hearted and well meaning people have pointed a finger at the world instead of extending a hand. It is important to remember that condemnation has never saved anyone. People are saved by grace through faith when we (the church) give them (the world) a reason to believe in Jesus. It is not us against them, it is us for them the same way that Jesus was for us.

When Jesus came to earth through the womb of a virgin, Israel was under Roman oppression. Israel was an occupied nation, their land was taken, they were heavily taxed and extorted, their women were raped. There was a genocide going on of the Hebrews boys. In that climate heaven responded in the opposite spirit. At the birth of Christ the heavenly host of angels declared “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” The gospel that we preach and the life that we live needs to communicate and demonstrate “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” The clearest expression of love and goodwill is generosity. Generosity gives prosperity a purpose. Your act of goodwill may just help someone find God’s will for their life.

Poverty

Poverty is not only a lack of money, it’s also a lack of opportunity. Steve Stewart founder of Impact Nations said, “opportunity unlocks potential.” Where poverty is, potential is not. Because human beings are priceless potential is expensive. The best thing we can invest in is people. The greatest investment is to give to someone who can not give you anything in return.

Poverty is also economic oppression. Sometimes the oppressor is without, and sometimes the oppressor is within. Sometimes the oppression is hopelessness. When someone is hopeless they feel helpless. When you give someone hope you are actually giving them help. When people are hungry and do not have access to clean water they suffer unnecessarily. It’s hard to work and learn when your stomach hurts because of you don’t have access to clean water, or you have a headache because you are hungry. Also the poor are also often oppressed by corrupt police or under policed because they have nothing. Not always but often your voice is as loud as your pocket is deep.

We should be a voice for those who have no voice. We should should extend a hand to the needy instead of just assuming they are lazy. The wisest and richest man to ever live said, “when you give to the poor you are lending to the Lord.” Jesus said, “what you have done to the least of these you have done to me.” In the kingdom of God you don’t have what you saved, you have what you gave. We store up treasure in heaven by giving to the poor of the earth. If you would like to invest in the poor click here.

A $4000 Mistake

Money will not make you happy, but debt will make you unhappy. – John C Maxwell. If you have ever been in debt you know this to be a painful reality. King Solomon who was literally the wisest and wealthiest man to ever live said, “the borrower is servant to the lender.” Before we move any further I want you to see the connection between wealth and wisdom. Yes there are rich fools, but there is a undeniable connection between wisdom and wealth. With that being said, I want to share with you one of the stupidest things that I have even done. It cost me $4000 dollars to know the difference between faith and presumption. John C Maxwell said, “if you want to impress someone tell them about your successes. If you want to impact someone tell them the stupidest thing that you have ever done and the lessons that you learned from it.” I am more interested in having a positive impact than portraying a false image of myself. In others words I am sharing my pain for your gain.

On June 27th, 2009 at 12:00 pm I married Sarah Bruce and in a moment she became Sarah LiVecchi. The next day we left for the beautiful Dominican Republic. There we helped lead a missions team and then stayed in the 5 star RIU Palace Punta Cana right on the beach for a 15 day honeymoon. We came home for about two weeks and then headed to Nicaragua to serve the poor with Impact Nations. It was exciting, we were newly married excited about life, each other and what we were doing. The $4000 mistake was the Nicaragua trip. The mistake wasn’t going and serving the poor. Remember what Jesus said, “what you have done to the least of these you have done unto me.” The mistake was not being prepared for the trip, not fundraising before the trip. The mistake was using a credit card when we didn’t have the money to pay for the trip. It became very apparent to me why MasterCard is called MasterCard. If you use the card and do not have the money that card will really become your master. What we were doing was right, but how we went about it was wrong. The problem was that we presumed we would have enough money from our wedding to pay for the trip, unfortunately we were both sincerely wrong. Our motives were right, our actions were right, but our presumption cost us $4000 dollars. Remember this, faith prepares not presumes. Faith is about preparation not presumption. Faith plans and prepares, faith does not assume and presume. It is important to know that having the right motives is not enough. You also need to make the right plans and the right preparations. I no longer have any regret from this mistake, now I have a lesson learned. I didn’t have foresight, but I gained some priceless insight for the price of $4000 USD. I am hoping that my lesson learned can be your problem avoided.