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Embracing Your Identity
By Global Outreach - March 17, 2017

Aaron nswered Gods call of becoming a missionary in Haiti, Jeremie over two years ago. He is a devoted husband, and a loving father to four beautiful children ranging from ages 5-11 years old. Aaron and his family all live in Jeremie, Haiti where they have dedicated their lives to ministering to the Haitian people and spread the love of God. Aaron pastors and shepherds a team of missionaries as well as teaches at the Impact 195 School that was modeled and created after our own Rock Impact 195. Here is his story...

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One of the most challenging things about living in Haiti for me personally is not necessarily the overwhelming physical needs. Yes, this is hard to face, especially when I’m in a place that is spacious, our family has more than enough food and all of our needs and beyond are continually met. I’d be living the same way if I lived in the U.S., but the extreme need feels magnified around me here. Yes, this is difficult. However, I’ve found something even more challenging, and that is not necessarily the poverty that I see surrounding me, but the poverty of the mind that is steeped and rooted into the heart of this culture.

Back in January, we had a group on a short-term trip come out to partner with us from the Rock Church. During this time, we had purchased material to help rebuild over 35 roofs for those who had lost them in the recent Hurricane Matthew. One Thursday morning, the team and I walked down the narrow alleyways of Sentalen, a very poor neighborhood here. As we began bringing material into the nearby homes, people multiplied, voices rose up, and crowds were pressing around us. I quickly gave instructions, we prayed and broke up into groups. During that day, everyone served faithfully and put their hand to the good work before them. At the end of the day, we were able to rebuild 3 roofs in that neighborhood that helped 5 different families.

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” Luke 6:35

What I had hoped for was a community to gather around this elderly woman, living with her elderly husband, who had no way of repairing their roof. And another woman, living alone, who had so generously opened up her home to other victims of the hurricane to stay there. Instead, what I found was a depraved mindset. During that day, children, women, men, young and old, skinny and well fed, reached out to me, grabbed me, begged me, surrounded me, and asked me for money or a new roof. Keep in mind, our team is not only taking care of these roofs, but doing kids activities for over 400 children, and serving food to them as well.

“You fixed hers, now fix mine.” Sure, the women getting their roof replaced were very happy, but outside of that, there was nobody, not one neighbor who seemed thankful for these people receiving a new roof. All of them had the mindset of, “If I’m not getting help, I don’t want anyone else to get help either.” The poverty mindset says, “I’d rather see everyone suffer than to see one person lifted up out of their misery.”

Shortly after that day, we took an optional evacuation by the U.N. and spent two weeks away from Jeremie, Haiti. We’ve been back for five weeks now, and this past week, we returned to that same neighborhood to make good on a promise of one more resident’s roof. This lady was a single mom who had four children and shared the house with a family that had been displaced also due to the hurricane. Putting a roof up meant the family could return and live there.

After the roof was finished, the neighborhood was in a frenzy, bursting with people wanting the leftover material. In between the time frame of the leaders on the worksite coming and going, the homeowner, who had just received a brand new roof at no cost to her, facilitated a theft of the leftover metal sheets and wooden pieces. Not only did she do this, but when one of the leaders returned, she also lied to him about where the material went, as some of it went to the neighbors, and she hid some of it in her home.

When I found this out, I had mixed emotions of frustration, anger, disappointment, and sadness, but then my heart broke for her. My heart broke for her and so many like her that even in their situation of getting a new roof, it wasn’t enough, she wanted more. She had an unthankful heart; a heart of greed, which I’ve come to experience is very common here. It seems as though no matter how much is given, it isn't enough. 

I've been here for a year and a half and I’ve been struggling with loving people like this. I think, generally, it’s easy for us to love those who are thankful or who love us back. Jesus says, “if we simply love those who love us, what reward do we have?” As I’ve been battling with this in my heart — to show continual kindness to people who have an unthankful heart, who have literally rejected our gifts, love, and offerings because they want more — this verse struck my heart.

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” Luke 6:35

God is using these experiences and His Spirit to show me who He is and who I am. He’s showing me the reality that to the extent I understand my identity in Christ, is to the extent I will show kindness towards the unthankful and evil. Ultimately, if I’m lacking in showing kindness to them, I’m lacking in knowing the reality of who I am and whose I am. He’s showing me how to do this with an open heart, ready to receive unthankfulness, knowing that this is my identity in Christ. He has freed me, He has freed you, He has freed us all to live this way, for He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

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