My trip to Haiti is coming up this weekend. God-willing, we'll leave VA on Friday and head to stay with my in-laws on Friday night because our plane leaves at 6:00 Saturday morning. From there we will fly to Miami and then to Santo Domingo before driving into Haiti. This week I had an interesting encounter after talking with someone about this trip. He/she looked me in the eyes and told me I was wasting my money and my time for going. He/she said I should have given that money to the Red Cross because they could have used it to do a better job than I could.
Before I go any further, this person was not a church member. However, it does represent (I think) the thinking of many people who are on the membership roles of churches all over the place. And, to be fair, if I am only going to help those who are suffering, perhaps the Red Cross (or several other organizations) could do it better. Maybe this person has a legitimate pattern of thinking. In the moment, however, I looked back at her/him and said, "except Jesus told us to go."
Now, was I wrong? I mean, Jesus didn't actually tell me to go to Haiti. Of course I was speaking generally about the command to go, but is that even the case? In the Great Commission passage it's about making disciples. The command in Matthew 28:18-20 is not "go", but it is "make disciples". So maybe this particular person was correct in saying what he/she said. It could be stated that we are called to make disciples where we are. That is certainly true. But we must also realize that the gospel is be proclaimed to all nations.
Let me get back on track here. My main point here is that if we go to Haiti (or across the street, or anywhere else in the world) with the intentions of only helping people, then there are many organizations that can do it better than we can. However, by God's grace, I have been saved and am now part of His church. And the church has been empowered to take the gospel to the nations. And not only have they been empowered and entrusted with the gospel, but they have also the promise that Christ is with them. So when I think about going to Haiti to help, I must remember that the Red Cross cannot do it better because they have not been entrusted with the gospel of grace. I wonder how many people (and churches) miss that when we involve ourselves with mercy ministry (here or abroad), that we are serving so that we might get the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are still lost in their sin. To make disciples of all nations begins with sharing the gospel in all nations. May we go forth with boldness realizing that we have both the gospel and the Christ of the gospel with us.