A Building on Two Levels

paul

by Paul Young

We are often asked by friends of Fond Blanc what Pastor Jean Claude does when the Fond Blanc Foundation is not there to help him. Putting their question another way: Can Haiti actually “do” for herself? By way of an answer, here is a story about building a home, but it is a story of building on two levels.

The first level is simple – the story of a Haitian community rebuilding a home for one of their own. As the pictures in this post illustrate, a member of Pastor’s Fontamara congregation named Watson had been trying to survive under unlivable conditions in a makeshift shack. He was part of the church community, but he was too embarrassed to let them know about his life. He could not even bring himself to to let his own pastor see his home, even though the problems were beyond his own ability to solve. In this fashion, these unendurable circumstances… endured.

A Makeshift Shack

A Makeshift Shack

When Pastor Jean Claude eventually did get to see the condition of the house for himself, his response was immediate. He mobilized the congregation to come together and build a proper home for their brother. They found a way. They paid for better quality materials and did the work themselves. When it comes to Haitian believers, we should never allow their limited resources to mislead us about their intentions, their resourcefulness and their resolve to live out their faith.

This story reveals something about Haitian character and self-help, but it is also a reflection on the Lord’s desire to rebuild us. That is the second level to the story.

The Bible tells us that our souls and bodies are to be a dwelling place for the Lord – that his Spirit should literally live inside us. The crumbled walls and inferior material of Watson’s house can prompt us to think about what sort of materials we provide to the Lord in ourselves. Like Watson, there may be times when we feel ashamed of our dwelling. We may despair of the prospects for repairing that dwelling. Sometimes it feels easier to just endure the situation rather than confront an embarrassing truth about ourselves. In that case, the Lord is left to fulfill his purpose in us with only our poor quality materials and our limited participation.

The Congregation Comes to Help

The Congregation Comes to Help

Like Watson, we may still live secretly in a state of disrepair. Sometimes we conform our outside to the image of “churchgoer”, but perhaps, on the inside, we still live in shame and spiritual destitution – unwilling or unable to reveal our true selves, and therefore feeling cut off from the healing love of God.  

Watson’s home was restored only when he was able to set down his pride, and trust those who were ready to demonstrate God’s love for him. Watson was freed from the worldly anchor of maintaining a false image – that great disease of our culture. Yes, his physical home was rebuilt, but the real story was the renovation in his heart.   

A Home To Live In

A Home To Live In

The love of God is manifested in this story through the faithful fellowship of Pastor’s community. On that second, more intimate level, the Holy Spirit is doing a restoration job on our insides. After confessing faith in the Lord and receiving the gift of salvation, we can go further. Like Watson, we can break free from limitations of shame and secrecy and live into the abundant life of God’s grace when we choose to allow him full access.

Whenever we provide financial support to the Fond Blanc orphanage or come down to serve the children, we are helping to rebuild the living conditions in that community. But far more importantly, when we help with their daily lives and nurture those young hearts, we make it easier for God’s love to bloom in their hearts, conforming them more closely to the image of Jesus – which is the Lord’s desire for all our lives.

This is the important sort of work that Pastor Jean Claude and his congregation do when we are not there to support them – he helps his congregation conform more closely to the image of Jesus. When they rebuild a dwelling for their brother, the Lord is working on his dwelling place in their hearts at the same time. Watson’s restored home is just one example of how that happens.

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