An Adventure with our Father
It is the end of October, 2011, and I am at a loss. I’m completely unsettled with my life, knowing it is splintering apart. My job brings in good money but definitely not fulfilling my purpose and calling. My family is young, growing, and healthy, but each day I’m more and more distant and distracted. Many Hands for Haiti is floundering, with three years of operations under our belt, but with our first missionaries home, conflict with a long-term partner, and little direction for the future, we were back at square one. I cried out to God and said, “Lord, what must I do?”
As told in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, one day Jesus was teaching and a rich, young ruler ran up to him, fell on his knees, and asked what must he do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answered to keep the commandments. The young man said he had been doing this since he was a boy. Jesus looked at him and loved him. Then he said, “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) At this, the man’s face fell and he went away sad because he had great wealth.
“Trust me. Sell all you have, give me all of you, not just your leftovers, and follow me. You won’t regret it.”
When I cried out to God, I jumped in the car and started to drive. I had no idea where I was going, but I needed to be alone and have a wrestling match with God. During this drive, I popped in an audio CD of a talk at a previous Global Leadership Summit in Chicago. It was Gary Haugen, the founder and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization that provides legal services of justice for the weak against some of the biggest, baddest, and darkest people in the world. God started to speak to me through a story Gary told.
When Gary was a boy, his dad would take him and his brothers to Mount Rainier. At the base of the mountain, there was a welcome center for all the mountain visitors. Out of the back of the welcome center, a path led up to base camp one, where those that scaled the mountain would start their journey. On this path, warning signs abounded about falling rocks, travel at your own risk, and steep, strenuous terrain ahead. Gary was scared to go on the path, but like many eight-year-olds would do in this situation, he convinced his dad it looked boring and would rather stay in the welcome center. With loving but sad eyes, his dad allowed Gary to stay, but the rest of the group went up the path.
Gary was proud of himself for getting to stay in the safe, warm welcome center. That first hour, he saw the stuffed bears and watched the informational videos. But, by hour two, then three, then four, those bears were just dead, stuffed animals and those videos were on repeat. He was perfectly safe but completely unfulfilled. And he was alone. By hour five, his dad and brothers came running back down the path, faces flush from the journey. One of his brothers had fallen and scraped a knee, many of them were exhausted, but their faces radiated with life and excitement. They had been on a steeper, more demanding, difficult journey with their father. Gary had been on the mountain, but he missed the opportunity to go on an adventure with his father.
I knew right then what God was saying to me, “Tim, go on an adventure with me. I’ve given you this unique life, this unique story, for this unique purpose. Yes, it is going to be harder. Yes, it is going to require all of you. But, you will be on an adventure with me, your Father. Trust me. Sell all you have, give me all of you, not just your leftovers, and follow me. You won’t regret it.” So Catie and I did. We never wanted to be like that rich, young ruler and miss out on what Jesus could do through us, if we were fully committed, following Him.
“It is many, many people on the more demanding path that lead to lives being transformed, because Jesus’s path is better.”
It hasn’t been just Catie and me that have taken this adventure with our Father, as the DNA of Many Hands has been made of sold-out people, willing to take the more demanding path. Jared and Stacy Nikkel were the first to do it, committing to move their young family to Haiti for two years in 2009. Jordyn (Vande Lune) Kelderman did it next by taking a gap year before college and moving to Haiti, homeschooling the Nikkel kids for a year. Heather Brown and Cassidy Mejia followed. Christi and Craig Gabhart continue to go on that adventure every day in Haiti. Heidi Schulte, Liz Clarke, and Micah Aurand did the same.
And it’s not just those in Haiti, as we have board members that give time, wisdom, and energy to help us stay on that adventure with our Father. We have donors that make incredible financial sacrifices, so others they will never see have an opportunity to be transformed. Short-term trip members step out of their comfort zone, travel to Haiti, and collide with Christ in a way that changes them forever. I see U.S. staff strive day-in, day-out, to be Jesus with skin on. And I feel the covering by our prayer warriors, interceding on a daily basis, to push back the darkness and fight the spiritual battles before us. It is many, many people on the more demanding path that lead to lives being transformed, because Jesus’s path is better.
Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of those that have taken the steeper, more demanding adventure with their Father, to be love in action in our broken world. May we continue to invite others to join us on this better, more demanding path, through the life we live, the faith we demonstrate, and the love we give.
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