January 12, 2012 – Recently, a colleague of mine shared this photo with me, one he took in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This was taken not too far from a cholera clinic and nobody knows if this man is dead or alive. For obvious reasons, it is one of those pictures that shocks the system when seen, causing a variety of emotions in the soul. Riveted by it, I have found myself opening it up and just staring at it multiple times over the past few weeks.
My first reaction is to reference Matthew 25:43, the passage where Jesus says, “I 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.” I see this picture and anger boils up inside of me, wondering why aren’t the people in the picture doing anything to help?! But, quickly, the questions start to form in my mind – am I any different? Who am I in that picture?
Am I the group of men in the background, obviously recognizing the man on the ground and maybe talking about doing something, but not taking action? Maybe they are trying to figure out the perfect strategy to help this guy. Or maybe I am the guy with the cell phone calling someone else to handle it. I know there is something wrong and I’ve called someone. I can wipe my hands clean now and make it someone else’s problem. Why would I want to get my hands dirty?
Or maybe I am the two ladies about ready to pass him, the look of repulsion easily visible on my face. Am I changing my course and walking as far from the problem as I can? Thoughts run through my head, “This is probably caused by his own doing. Take better care of yourself. Do you have no pride?” I have no idea of this man’s story, but I am quick to condemn and walk the other way.
Could I be the lady with the head phones on, not even recognizing the problem? I’m busy in my own world – with the noise cranked up, moving at a fast-pace, with money in my hand. For me to notice, I would literally have to trip on him, at that point causing injury to myself. I’ve got my own plans and things to buy. Self-serving needs and filling my life with “stuff,” I am indifferent to anything not directly in front of me.
Or maybe I am the man. Exposed. Naked. Sick. Dying. Help is just down the street, but I refuse to go. I’ve gone so long doing this on my own and trying to solve my own problems that eventually, I lose everything. I have a life-ending disease that causes eternal death. But, I recognize too late that my time is short. I fall to the ground and die when help was just within reach.
I ask you, who are you in this picture? Who is Jesus in this picture? Read Matthew 35:31-46 and look at this picture again. Does your mindset change at all if you see Jesus in the naked man? He is there. The more I look at the picture, the more I see Him. Am I available to help? Or am I going to be like the people in the picture?
I write this on the two-year anniversary of the earthquake that rocked Haiti. In a matter of 30 seconds, an estimated 220,000 people died, 1.5 million became homeless, and an entire country was impacted. The emotional scars of that day will never truly heal. Haiti is broken. Yes. But, Christ has a plan. You. You are God’s plan. You are the solution. He has no other plan but you. And he is asking you to not necessarily change the world, but to help one person at a time. This is a more difficult life, choosing to forgo the self-serving pleasures of the world and to see Christ in all. It means radical choices in some cases. But, we are talking eternal life and eternal death. The stakes can’t be higher. Choose this day to be part of the solution.
Written by Tim Brand, Executive Leader for Many Hands for Haiti