[the #haiti diaries] the face of hunger

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

September 17, 2010

I’ve never seen such extreme hunger.

It was a hot day. A really hot day. Our team just spent about two hours packed into a school bus to get here, and then boarded the rickety wooden boats to cross Lake Azuei to get to this village. It was isolated from civilization in more ways than one.

Our host pastor had been visiting and working with these people for several months, and our visit with them was intended to bring a glimmer of hope in support of the ministry that was already happening.

We were fortunate enough to have a great deal of corporate support that allowed us to purchase about 1,500 pounds of food items to deliver to these people. We had rice, beans, oil, and noodles. Our host pastor informed us that many of these people hadn’t eaten in about three weeks, and the food we brought would last them approximately 2-3 months.

Oh, and then there was the clothing. Judging from the naked children walking around, it’s obvious that this was needed just as badly as the food that we brought.

If I’m honest with myself, then I’d have to say that I’ll never truly understand what their lives must be like.

I can’t.

Especially considering the short time we were there.

Sure, I could see that the land was dry and rocky. It must be impossible to support any substantial livestock, let alone farm the land.

The only transportation that I saw were the boats that brought us across the lake. So getting to any ‘nearby’ work would have required a great deal of effort and expense.

There was no electricity. No running water. No phone lines. And I know it’s hard to believe, but there was also no cable TV.

They were literally disconnected from civilization.

After being there for a little while, I easily understood their hunger for food. As we distributed the food, people would regularly send their children back to cut in line and get more of one item or another. It was difficult turning them away so that we could guarantee that there would be enough for everyone.

Then we brought out the clothing. You’d think that it would be okay to open a suitcase and expect people to remain calm and orderly. But we didn’t (or couldn’t) understand what it’s like to need (anything) that bad.

Chaos is the only word to describe what happened as the people mobbed those who were trying to distribute shoes and clothing. It was so chaotic that the police officers that traveled with us literally went into riot-control mode.

It was (and still is) difficult for much of our team to understand why many of these people would act so uncivilized. Many of us judged them for it.

But that’s because we failed to understand their hunger. And not a hunger just for food, but for any of the bare necessities that many of us take for granted.

It’s hard for any of us to imagine why someone would go crazy for a $3 pair of flip-flops.

That is unless you’ve walked on that hot, rocky dirt in your bare feet for most of your life.

I know that when I get really hungry, and choose to ignore it long enough, then my blood sugar will start to drop. As a result I get fidgety and agitated. I do and say things that I normally wouldn’t do. I loose my ability to think straight, especially as it relates to food. I think that this must be a small glimpse into what their entire lives are like.

This experience and realization helped me learn how important it is to not judge without fully understanding what motivates one’s behavior. It made my heart break with compassion for these people.

Their poverty is so extreme.

Their hunger is so deep.

Their need for someone to save them is so great.

Lord, I pray for the people in that village on Lake Azuei. May the food and clothing that we delivered be a great blessing to them. And may they see that it was the Love of a Savior that brought us to them. I pray that You continue to provide and pour out Heavenly Love on these people that they may be drawn to You and realize salvation in You. And may You heal their land. In Jesus name, amen.

For more from this trip, check out the #haiti diaries.

14 Comments

  1. Ann Voskamp

    I have no words, Dan….
    But I’m praying for my hands and my feet and my heart to have a response.

    Thank you.
    *Thank you.*

    All’s grace,
    Ann

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      My heart aches for these people. Everything in me wants to go pick them up and save them, but it’s not me that saves (in spiritually OR physically). I just want to see the Love of God poured on them over and over and over and……

      Thanks for stopping by to check this out Ann, and for being His hands and feet (and heart) during your recent trip to Guatemala. You rock!

      Reply
  2. Glynn

    We sit here in the midst of plenty — and find no words to respond. Although words are less important than deeds. You’ve told a heart-ending story here, Dan.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      Thanks Glynn. I also think that if these words can inspire others to deeds, then they are priceless. So I must share what breaks my heart every day since I’ve returned.

      Reply
  3. Laraj

    Dan,
    YOu are right. We cannot understand. Bless them. and you all for the help you gave. 2013? Hmmm…

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      I think you mean 2011… 😉
      Regardless of when, I cannot wait to get back. It really is a beautiful land full of beautiful people who need to be absolutely smothered in Love.

      Reply
  4. cherylsmith

    Father, would you multiply the gifts given, both to the recipient and to the givers? And continue to use Dan mightily to bring Hope to people throughout the world.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      This isn’t a blog post anymore… it’s a prayer meeting. Thank you Lord for touching the hearts of Your people, and allowing us all to be a part of the amazing work that You are doing all around the world…

      Reply
    • @bibledude

      This isn’t a blog post anymore… it’s a prayer meeting. Thank you Lord for touching the hearts of Your people, and allowing us all to be a part of the amazing work that You are doing all around the world…

      Reply
    • @bibledude

      This isn’t a blog post anymore… it’s a prayer meeting. Thank you Lord for touching the hearts of Your people, and allowing us all to be a part of the amazing work that You are doing all around the world…

      Reply
  5. Claire

    Dan, having grown up and lived in Africa until a few months ago, this was a reality that I stared at daily. Shack villages and Squatter camps were just the other side of the highway. Living alongside these people, you come to see life on their terms, you come to understand crime and rape and gangster mentality. Grace takes on a whole different meaning in this context. The hardest lesson for me though, is that many of these people, when given an alternative, choose to remain as they are. Respecting this choice, is a lesson I still battle with every time I return home.

    Thank you for your heart’s response to these people, in their dire need.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      This kind of poverty is difficult to see, and God’s heart for us to certainly one of the biggest factors in the heart of compassion that Christians have. I agree that it can be difficult when some choose to remain as they are. I wonder sometimes what might motivate someone to respond that way… pride maybe?

      I’ll keep ministering like this as long as God puts a beat in my heart.

      Thanks for sharing your experience here Claire! You rock!

      Reply
  6. Claire

    oh and about your idea of a highcallingblogs mission trip… that really rocks!

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      I think that ‘really rocks’ is an understatement. I think that it could be life-changing for many… well beyond our team or any others from the network that might come along.

      Reply

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[the #haiti diaries] the face of hunger

by Dan King time to read: 4 min
19