This is not new, and not at all profound, but, none of us lives a simple life, do we? In a 21st century world, whether you live in a New York City penthouse or in a hut along the banks of the Zambezi river, life is not simple. Whether your survival depends on landing a business deal or crossing a river full of crocodiles, simple doesn't really enter into the equation.
So whether or not you order your groceries thru the latest app on your smartphone, or you grind corn on a rock to dine on "tortillas con sal" (that's tortillas with salt, folks, and it's my son's favorite) no one can escape that life presents challenges, requires work-arounds, and demands payment of our physical and emotional energies.
Haiti is a tough place to live. There just aren't that many jobs, for men or women. The construction of our school in Gras has afforded a few permanent jobs - school director, teachers, cooks, and security - but it's really a small team. The unemployed of the village have no false expectations that this school is a source of permanent job security for their families.
It really opens your eyes to see that "simply struggling to survive" isn't "simple" at all, and how the opportunity for employment - even temporary employment - is nearly impossible to secure when there are so few jobs, and so many men and women vying for them. As we have been adding classrooms to our school in anticipation of next year, we have again recruited construction workers from the church and village surrounding the school. We hire about twenty men, but have to turn away at least forty, every time.
Because opportunity is so scarce, we try to share the opportunity by rotating workers in and out. We have a a core team of 7-8 who are permanent, but the rest work two weeks on, then two off, to give opportunity for income to every willing and capable man in the village.
Even that, isn't enough. When the man who worked beside you last week is now gathering wood to make and sell charcoal this week simply asks you if he could work another week because his family has nothing to eat, it isn't enough.
It isn't enough. And it isn't simple.
Not-simple problems do not have simple solutions, nor do they have quick ones. Charity is never a solution to a long-term problem. It's great for momentary problems or large scale calamities, but it just doesn't work for what "isn't simple." And that is most of life.
So where do I put Jesus? He is that one solution that is not like any other. Is Jesus simple? Yes! Is Jesus complex? Yes! He is both, and. He is Alpha and Omega. He is beginning and end. I struggle to convey what I believe is good and true -- that economic development goes hand in hand with spiritual development. How can we, as rich as we are, offer Jesus to someone with nothing, without also offering them an opportunity to obtain skills and secure employment so that God's promise of abundant life is real?
Discipleship offered by the rich "first world" Christian, without economic development, with people in "third world" nations like Honduras and Haiti -- and many others around the world -- is the epitome of a plank in the eye. But, maybe the solution is simple, after all -- just take that plank out, and see, unimpaired.
Teaching vocational skills and creating jobs in a market that is devoid of opportunity takes innovation, expertise, partnership, and most of all, God's blessing. Help us support economic development because it is a conduit for discipleship relationships. If you are a Christian, you are an ambassador equipped to serve others - to help people who do not know God to derive meaning in a fallen world and to discover the depth of God's love for them.