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Archive for February, 2012

Faith-infused

Two cups of tea, side by side.

Both darkening as they steep. Both with a curl of steam rising. Each with a tea bag, imparting the flavor and scent and color of its tea leaves as the hot water draws it out.

Yet, as you get closer, they are different. One smells like…well, plain tea. The other is infused with a scent that is more transcendent.

Two people, made in the image of God.

One sees the surface of life only. Life with its ups and downs, its trials and successes – but no known purpose, no clear direction, no guiding hand. Just a dark, hard-to-see-through brew of daily existence.

The other is infused with something different, a substance that transcends. Mingled with the aroma of this world is the fragrance of another. There is faith in the leaves.

Like ancient Joseph, sold into slavery in Egypt and falsely accused of uncommitted crimes (yet still faithful to his God), faith percolates through even the darkest times. And, like Joseph, light and purpose and divine wisdom break out to show that this is no ordinary life. God is at work. The aroma of faith is unmistakeable.

Very few of God’s children will be billboard-visible. Most of us will look a lot like any other cup of tea – except that the infusion of the grace of Jesus Christ produces something very different. Faith infused leads to renewed hope, to self-giving love, to feeble yet sincere worship. The apostle Paul called it an aroma of life to life – though for those who despise God and His ways, it becomes like an aroma of death. When Christians are despised, not for their quirks, but for their faith, it only reveals the hostility of those who oppose God for what it is. Death at work.

But infused faith is God at work. Giving life. And even making that life flavorful.

Today, O Lord, infuse me with Yourself. Even in the tumult of this life, may faith arise from this cracked and stained cup, to Your glory.

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Built to Last in Haiti

The earthquake in Haiti a couple of years ago exposed – quite literally – how that nation needs an approach to building that lasts.

The crumbling of so many buildings, and infrastructure, is still evident today. The word “broken” comes to mind time and time again when driving through, and thinking about, this island nation – even in areas not touched by earthquake or hurricane.

A few facts about Haiti, extracted from Wikipedia:

  • 70% of the population lives on less than $2 US/day (from the International Red Cross)
  • Foreign aid makes up 30-40% of the national budget
  • 80% of college graduates live abroad – the money they send home makes up over 50% of Haiti’s GDP
  • Estimates of unemployment range from 50-70%
  • 90% of Haiti’s children suffer from waterborne diseases and/or intestinal parasites

Also, Haiti suffers from intense deforestation, such that its border with the Dominican Republic (the other half of the island of Hispaniola) is remarkably visible.

Yet, driving along outside of Cap Haitian in the north, there are whole swaths of beautiful land, mountains rising up in the background, and the word “potential” also floods the mind. What if long-term, sustainable approaches to life and growth and education and agriculture and business were planted in Haiti? Would they flourish? Could self-reliance and productivity take root?

I have to believe it can happen.

Short-term missions of mercy and help – donations and supplies and feet on the ground – are all helpful in a nation plagued by more brokenness than we might ever see in our “first-world” countries. Immense good has been done, and continues to be done, in countries like Haiti by people willing to give and sacrifice for others. But ultimately, we also need to go beyond band-aids and crutches. In my opinion – based admittedly on a very short visit – Haiti needs new micro-cultures planted that are sustainable, scalable, and holistic, where people and work and productivity can all grow together.

My respect for the work of Double Harvest has grown enormously – even though I didn’t get a chance to visit there on this recent trip, we have sponsored a child through them for years, and they are taking this very long-term approach (here is a link to their most recent report on the Haiti mission – very impressive stuff!)

Haiti needs an agriculture strategy/approach that will help it feed its own people for the long haul. Educational endeavors that will equip youth for leadership. Medical outreach that will boost health and longevity. And forms of industry that will “fit” with the indigenous population. In other words: Haiti needs industrious, resourceful, entrepreneurial commitment. Marathon-capable culture builders. Resources invested to build structures that will last – on every level.

An overwhelming challenge. Where do we begin?

Here are some pictures from the Haiti trip, now on-line. And some initial thoughts about water here: Haiti Hot and Cold.

P.S. for those visiting Steve’s Free for the first time (Welcome!), this is my little-known personal blog. Most of my marketing/branding/business writings are over at Connection Agent, and my pharma ramblings are at Impactiviti, if that’s what you’re into…

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