A Parable of Haiti, The American Church, and the Scandal of Responding to Those In Need

hand-453220_640Today’s parable:

A group of American Christians come upon a great pile of rubble.

From beneath the rubble, they hear the cries and screams of a poor Haitian church that has been buried by the earthquake.

“Help us!” They cry. “We have been here so long without help! Help us!”

“Of course,” cry the American Christians. “Of course, we’ll help.” And they begin to dig away at the great pile of rubble that traps and endangers their fellow Christians.

After a while, they have worked for a very long time and are not seeing much progress. Three people are freed but only one has joined them to free the others. Another dies almost immediately from cholera and the other runs off without even a thank you and with no time for them to give her the gospel.

The American Christians decide to stop and have a meeting about the situation.

“Where are you going?” Cry the trapped church people. “Some of us are dying. We are without basic needs. We suffer.”

“We’ll be right back.” Assure the American Christians.

So they sit off to the side in the shade to eat and discuss the situation.

“We can’t afford to be sitting here discussing this.” Says one. “Time is running out for our brothers and sisters and their suffering is great.”

“Our efforts are not making much progress to alleviate their suffering.” Says another. “Perhaps we are going about this the wrong way. Perhaps we were too hasty to jump in and try this ourselves. We need a plan, experts, money, and better tools. I think we should stop helping and come up with a long-term plan.”

“But they are suffering now.” Cries the first Christian.

“Yes, and it is painful to see such suffering. I am growing closer to Christ by seeing their suffering firsthand as are we all. Perhaps this is what is intended. Certainly suffering has a purpose.”

“But we can do more to alleviate their suffering. Can we not send down water, food, and blankets? Can we not continue to dig them free from the rubble?”

Another American Christian answers. “I am getting pressure from those I represent to be sure we are only helping a church with a clear Biblical teaching and a history of relationship with our denomination. What do we know of these people under this rubble? I’m sensing that I need to slow down my efforts and confer with those I report to at home. We cannot be ruled by emotions, here, but strict principles of stewardship.”

“What we know about them is that they are human beings and that they are hurt and in need of our help!”

“Yes, but what are we doing to affect their eternal salvation? Shouldn’t one of us be sure they know we are digging them out in the name of Christ?”

“Do they have a leader? Is there a pastor buried with them?”

They return to the rubble and called down for a pastor.

“Yes, yes, I am here. I am a pastor to these people.”

So the American Christians query him. “What is your understanding of Scripture? Where did you study to become a pastor? With which denomination do you serve? What are you doing beneath the rubble to better the situation for your people? What are you asking them to do to improve their own situation?”

There is silence from the beneath the rubble.

“Hello? Why does the pastor not answer our questions?” They call to the others.

A great weeping rises from beneath the rubble and one older woman replies, “He breathes no longer.”

“What happened?” They ask from above.

“He was using his own body as a brace against the weight of the rubble to protect the rest of us and it has cost him his life.”

Silence from above.

Then one American Christian bends down and begins the work again of freeing those who are trapped. He works frantically with energy, passion and tears. The others look at him for a moment and then one asks him, “Brother, where have you found this energy for the task? Are you sure you know what you are doing?”

“Don’t you see, loved ones? My heart is trapped beneath this rubble, too. We are all in danger if we do not respond to this need. We are all in grave danger – those who are below the rubble and those who stand above. I work as though my soul depended on it. My witness before the throne of Jesus lies beneath this rubble.”

“31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-45 NIV

This parable appears in Lori’s book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Check out that book and her newest book, Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life) by clicking HERE.

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    The Conversation

  1. Wow, very powerful. I know that my heart does not go out to hurting strangers in far away places like it should. God wants my faith to wear more shoe leather.

  2. diane homm says:

    Oh my… ‘heartbreaking. God have mercy on us.

  3. Sadly this is also a parable of the America churches taking care of those within their home flocks as well. With all the same excuses plus whether or not the victims can tithe. Exekiel 34

  4. Jan Ross says:

    Lori, it’s obvious that you were led of the Spirit to write this “parable”. It’s as if you reported what we have encountered, as an eye-witness. We had organizations who offered help for our people in Haiti ONLY if we could prove their affiliation with a certain denomination and ONLY if our Haitian team leader was educated in that particular denomination’s Seminary and carried pastoral credentials. Without proof, they turned their backs. Children needed food and medical attention from infected wounds, they needed a safe place to sleep, they needed clothing … they had lost everything including 40 of their little friends. And, the response we received from a large organization was, “Prove to us their eligibility for humanitarian aide.”

    God help the American Church … God forgive us all for turning a deaf ear to the cries of the lost and hungry, the wounded and forsaken. God, stir up Your church to action!!!!

  5. Joe Crowley says:

    Very well written and very sad that it had to be written at all. Unfortunately this Blog outlines the truth of the matter.

  6. Yes, we really care about the people of Haiti. You can learn more about how much we care and how we demonstrate our care for them by visiting our website – http://www.hishandsforhaiti.org

  7. Mari says:

    I came across this 2 yrs after you wrote it and I am so glad I did. I just returned from visiting Haiti and I can relate to the American Christians…unfortunately. This line did it for me: “My witness before the throne of Jesus lies beneath this rubble.” So powerful!

  8. clemke says:

    Thank you for this parable. I shared it as a part of my “exit interview” with a mega church who has become much like the church in your parable. The good thing is they have recognized it, and are on their way to trying to get back to the basics of why the church exists. I will long remember this story and it will help me to keep laser focused on the reason for my existence. I’m not just “GOING” to church anymore…I daily look for opportunities to BE the church. Formal ministry behind me…I’m having so much fun following Jesus again!