"My Heart is Hot..."
by Jen Hatmaker on October 10th, 2012

This cannot quite be quantified; it’s not an exact science. Experts might disagree on the precise time frame or progression. But somewhere between your 12th and 36th hour in a Third-World country, you ask yourself the same question Francis Schaeffer posed:
“How then shall we live?”
You can’t help it. You want to shove this chaos onto other people, the brave ones, the resourced ones, or whatever attributes you assign to heroes who live and breathe the redemption of places like Haiti or Kenya or wherever it is We Who Have Normal Lives do not bear responsibility for.
But then you can’t help it. Their poverty holds a mirror up to your privileges at the exact same time their preciousness firmly identifies them as brothers and sisters, and you’re a goner. Like Pastor Gaetan of Yaveh Shamma Orphanage told us today of his resolve for the children, as he searched for the right English words:
“My heart is hot…”

Our hearts become hot, ablaze with the gospel, on fire against the injustice, melting with Jesus’ words: These are the least…however you treat them is how you’ve treated Me. This goes well past charity or basic humanitarian aid. This is sacred. This is worship. This is holy, holy spiritual space. This matters as much as anything can matter. How then shall we live?
We visited Yaveh Shamma Orphanage today, led by the heroic Pastor Gaetan, and at one point, my heart was so inflamed, I took my shoes off, for I was standing on holy ground.
Backstory: Pastor Gaetan cared for 14 children before the earthquake, and when it hit, claiming the life of his own brother, he immediately took in 16 more kids virtually on the spot. His brother lay dead on the premises, unburied, deteriorating, and Pastor couldn’t bury him for two weeks, so relentlessly was he working every waking hour, spending 14 hours a day simply trying to find food for the kids. While his small home was damaged but not destroyed, he slept outside with the children on a hospital mattress. When asked why he didn’t sleep inside his house, he replied: “A shepherd never takes his eyes off his little sheep.”
Chris Marlow of Help One Now connected with Pastor Gaetan soon after, committing to him as a brother to help – a promise met with skepticism as “many Americans made big promises and never came back.” (We’ve heard this story repeatedly from Haitian leaders this week.)
Over the last two years, Help developed a sponsorship program for Yaveh Shamma, built a house for the children, dug a well on the campus, built a playground (in addition to these 30, 120 other vulnerable children from the community who cannot afford school attend their site school), and held Garage Sales for Orphans to fund a number of development projects.

Two years ago when this partnership first emerged, Chris Marlow, founder of Help One Now and a dear friend of Austin New Church, visited on Sunday to tell us of Haiti. While we listened in wide-eyed horror, he told of the earthquake aftermath and about Pastor and the kids. He spoke of their hollow eyes and unspeakable grief. We heard of their hunger and filthy water and post-traumatic stress and the courageous couple attempting to raise them alone. He mentioned a brand-new sponsorship opportunity at Yaveh Shamma.
And the people of Austin New Church promptly sponsored every single child that very day, prophetic words of old from Joshua 2 finding fresh life in that old rented sanctuary:
“Our lives for your lives…”
So today, helping the kids write letters to their sponsors, my heart grew hot. The children raced, raced to their rooms to bring back every letter, every picture, every drawing, every kind word their sponsor families had ever sent them, hungry to show us how loved they’ve been, how valued and precious they were to someone.
They brought worn out letters, read hundreds of times, creased and soft. Pictures smudged with a thousand fingerprints. Envelopes carefully refolded to hold their treasured correspondence. Broken English shouted out names as they happily identified their sponsors: Emilie! Tyler! Scott! Mees Linda!
And then it started.
“Oh my goodness! Your sponsors are my sweet friends, the Stones!”

"Look at your sponsors! That is my friend, Alissa!"

“Ruth, I brought you letters from my sister-in-law and her family!”

“Snaicise, those boys writing you letters belong to one of my dearest friends, Amy!”

And as I leaned over the most darling boy in the history of life, just wanting to snap a picture of his concentrated, oh-so-serious work on his letter, and as I glanced at his French writing, two American names popped out:
"Claudnet, your sponsors? Larry and Jana? That’s my mom and dad.”

Shoes. Off.
I knew in my head but I was seeing with my heart now that our faith community in America really was helping raise another community in Haiti. Our little rag-tag church in South Austin with rudimentary tools like letters and drawings from 4-year-olds and printed pictures and Paypal accounts were funding the water well, speaking worth into broken little lives, paying the teachers’ salaries, empowering this dear shepherd, buying the uniforms, purchasing the red beans and rice. It was really happening. There is the well! Here is the bunkhouse! Look at all these pictures of my friends and family in these dear little brown hands!  
What if those old prophetic words took on new meaning for us all?
“Love your neighbor as yourself…”

Help’s goal is to sponsor every child 5 times, which just covers monthly costs. What if we went one for one, four for four, or fifty for fifty, loving our neighbors in equal proportions that we love our own? What if we sponsored as many children as we are raising at home? What if you gathered five of your best people – your mom, sisters, cousin, and aunt – and you sponsored the same child…our lives for your lives? What if your small group of ten sponsored ten children together? What if your faith community decided to raise the money so the heroes on the ground could raise the kids?
This equitable worldview is certainly not popular, for who really wants to love their neighbor as themselves? It makes for a lovely door hanger but terribly inconvenient practice. We don’t like a 50/50 policy. That sounds dangerous and costly. We spend every last ounce on our own; who wants to reserve half for our neighbor?
But then we see our neighbor, we really see them, somewhere between hour 12 and 36, and love them we must. Harbor them we will. Die to self for them we shall. Sacrifice for them we should. For we belong to one another and we are Christ's, and the family of God cares for one another or dies trying, Church.
How then shall we live?
Our lives for your lives. Hearts on fire.

Would you consider sponsoring one of these beauties? Or would you gather your troops and double or triple or quintuple (?) sponsor one, raising a child up together? Or rally your people and sponsor in mass? Let me tell you: seeing a whole orphanage sponsored by your whole church is HOLY GROUND. Click here for more information.

Photos courtesy of the talented Molly Donovan Burpo and Scott Wade. You can follow our Twitter and Instagram feeds at #Help1Haiti this week.

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[email protected] - October 11th, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Bless. You.

Oh, dear God, bless you.

Praying for you, all the way across our farmyard,
and over these harvested fields,
and right over top of our first-world "problems,"
and then over the million-dollar mansions you saw when you flew from Florida off that tarmac, and all that hummus and chardonnay you were offered in first-class... until you landed wheels down. And didn't that seem like ages ago???

So I send this: ... all this love and prayer... may it find you right there where you are, next to those sweet little kiddos, whom God is utterly loving. And ((((you, Jen Hatmaker)))) whom God is utterly cherishing. All of you...Wish I could have been with you this time. But so glad you're there.
Alison - October 11th, 2012 at 12:02 AM
I want to do something. Some. Thing. Beautifully written.
Melanie Rogers - October 11th, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I am completely moved and utterly convicted!
Thank you Gid for giving you the words my heart needed to hear!
Bonar Crump - October 11th, 2012 at 1:46 AM
Rescuing ourselves, our children, and our communities as we rescue "the least of these." This, too,
"cannot quite be quantified." Holy ground, indeed...
Patti - October 11th, 2012 at 6:32 AM
Nothing like a good cry at 6am. Jen you will continue to change lives as you take all of us with you on this journey. Now what?? What do I do?? Now begins my discernment, on my knees, asking God for my place in this story. Bless you and all who are with you. Bless those children and all who are caring for them. Renew in us oh God your spirit and show us how to love our neighbors in radical ways!
Jacinta - October 11th, 2012 at 6:43 AM
I am crying and my heart is so hot right now. Not only do I want to do something for the children in Haiti but you have renewed my love for the children of India as well. Seeing your blog this morning reminded me of why I have wanted to travel to different countries. To show the children that people do care and that God cares as well. May God continue to bless you and the people who are with you on this journey.
Jen in Mn - October 11th, 2012 at 7:23 AM
Floored and inspired. And my heart is aflame. Glad I found your blog.
Amy - October 11th, 2012 at 7:35 AM
Love. this.
Brian - October 11th, 2012 at 7:43 AM
Rosanna - October 11th, 2012 at 7:48 AM
This is so so good! We took our little family of five to Bangladesh and Burma this summer and yes, our hearts were hot! They still are. My 17 year old told me yesterday how much he wants to go back to Burma. I wrote about a man of faith there who is taking care of 60 children and raising them up to be missionaries to their own people groups. Why would we not partner with such people?! Here is a link to something I wrote about him... http://fantasticrealities.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/serving-living-bread-and-tea-which-is-really-living-water/
Dana - October 11th, 2012 at 7:51 AM
Heart is hot. Now what? Asking God-now what?
What a gift to see your people in the hands of the precious.
Heather - October 11th, 2012 at 7:55 AM
Thank you Jen. Your post reminds me of this verse: "But if I say I'll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It's like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can't do it!" Jeremiah 20:9. Thank you for setting all our hearts on fire and realizing we can't hold it in. We have to speak the Lord's name and be His hands in Haiti. Thank you!
Donna - October 11th, 2012 at 8:20 AM
Day two of Jen Hatmaker's Haiti blog - crying at work again! Dieuberlande Michel is now added to my sponsor children. thank you!!
Alissa - October 11th, 2012 at 8:31 AM
Oh, our sweet boy! Please give him an extra hug for us. And tell him we pray for him every night. Thank you for all you lades are doing and take good care of each other. Can't wait to hear from you when you get back.
Grace Elizabeth - October 11th, 2012 at 8:48 AM
Oh wow. My shoes have almost left my feet, and socks will be flying off soon after. This is truly holy ground, the shivers reverberating through me are immense, almost 2 months since I returned from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, a bit jealous of you, but wow-ed by all you are saying. Wow! Wow! Wow! It is the holy ground that makes me want to cry, the brothers and sisters that really aren't as far away as we like to pretend they are. Oh wow.
Amy - October 11th, 2012 at 10:31 AM
Gah. Thank you. God is weaving Haiti into my heart, even though I've never been, and it can be such a painful process. Not because I cry (all the time) when I hear of their tragic, beautiful stories (I do); the real pain is when I examine my own heart. It's easy to be devastated and convicted in the moment, looking at the photos, reading all the words; but it's shameful how quickly my mind goes back to idling on my own world. I knowingly and purposefully throw a bucket of iced down Gatorade on my heart every time it flames up, telling myself it's too hard to idle there. No one wants me to walk around crying every day.
How selfish. Both the tears and the Gatorade. Haiti would be better served if I prayed for my own heart - it seems most Haitians have hearts fully on fire, and they thank God for it every day. And I am thanking God for showing me what that looks like.
Heather - October 11th, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Jen! God bless you for your work in Haiti. I read your book Seven and each month transformed something in our lives like you did. We didn't do it just like you...we did it our way. We decided that the homeless men in Philadelphia would be our neighbor and we would help him in what ways we can. We are on month 4 of cooking casseroles weekly to feed the men who come to St Johns hospice for nurishment and I serve lunch to these souls 1 day a month (I work full time so that is what I can do). The payback mentally of knowing that I can and am helping my neighbor is worth every minute each week we spend shopping, cooking and delivering these meals. I know that our little family of 3 personal ensures that 26 meals are available for homeless and hungry men in Philadelphia.
Thank you for the inspriation. You and your book make that happen!
Linda Bolt - October 11th, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Thank you for sharing in a way that touches people's hearts. Love it! You really have a job, communicating this to us, engaging our hearts. I look forward each day to reading your blog now.

Now some head questions: I want to know more about the orphanage and the school. Are the kids that live elsewhere and just attend the school also sponsored? Are the children at the orphanage truly orphans? Are there more helpers working at the orphanage? Do they have access to medical care? Are their buildings now built to withstand another earthquake? And so on....

I went to Haiti way back in 1976, and it changed me forever. Now that my children are grown, I am feeling God putting Haiti ever more on my heart and mind. We sponsor 2 children there with another organization. I feel myself wanting to know more and more, and wanting to figure out how best to help, and I'm very intrigued by what your group is doing.

So, looking forward to lots more. Heart and head stuff!

Bethany - October 11th, 2012 at 2:15 PM
Dear Jen, I have my first-world problems. I have been wrestling with God over a new-to-me pair of boots. Reading my last sentence is truly embarrassing. Hang with me... God starting working on my heart through Irresistible Revolution over four years ago, then Everyday Justice... more and more, up to Seven (love!). So, these are the boots I have wanted for two years, are used, a great steal, and oh so, so gorgeous. (This shallowness is disgusting at this point.)

So, as I've been praying for our foster-to-adopt daughter's court case, and other very, very serious things, I've been feeling God bring up (seemingly at random) these boots - to give them up. So I haven't worn them yet, and I've been asking God if He couldn't just clean out of my heart whatever shouldn't be there so that the boots won't be such a big deal: wanting to look put-together and feel stylish and accepted, my vanity, my ego. (And, yes, I've acknowledged that my excitement over a new thing is an attempt at numbing myself from the painful truth of all the possibilities of fostering-to-adopt... It's way past time for a Will Ferrell movie, too! :)

BUT what if He wants me to simply "take" my shoes off? Because He wants me to be fully on His Holy Ground. Without anything between me and His Holy Ground. Not because boots and style and fashion are evil. Because they're not. Not because He wants to make us all plain and poor. Because He doesn't. But because He has something, just BETTER, more filling. Right here and now. Big, eternally significant things are happening in my life as we work in the Spirit, and I'm trying to distract myself with shoes? I don't have to work so hard to cool off my hot heart. It's hot for a reason. He can handle the heat He's put there.

We did a GS4O, and it was fantastic. So, I will do the same thing here and re-sell the boots and give the money to Help, and I will thank God to walk on this earth with less distraction, less INSULATION. And I will remember that this earth I stand on is the same earth my brothers and sisters stand on in Haiti.

As always, thank you for your vulnerability and authenticity.
Sara Busse - October 11th, 2012 at 3:33 PM
Jenn - you are starting a revolution in my heart. I am SO grateful for your words. For the lives you are sharing...and saving. Please God, may the children of Haiti have today...tonight...a moment...to know that they are not forgotten. They are loved and KNOWN. Thank you for the light being shed by our friends into their lives. May you equip me to shine that same kind of light into those who are my neighbors...be they across the street or thousands of miles away. Renew those who are leading this cause, may they also know we (or at least I!) hear this story and I am going to do something. Renew their bodies, their hearts, their minds. And safely hold those little ones until this Mamma can do something. Jesus...your name is in this work. Jesus. Thank you for the answered prayers. Amen
Michelle - October 11th, 2012 at 3:58 PM
Bringing tears to my eyes, Jen. So touched by the tiny little church we dreamed of before it had a name. And so blessed each time I get a chance to read your blog. I dreamed weeks ago that Kristian and I took in 6 more kids. SURELY that just means we need to sponsor a few more! You now me and God and dreams....
Jen Hatmaker - October 11th, 2012 at 5:06 PM
I love you, Michelle!!!! I DO know about your dreams, and you most certainly have an inheritance in the ANC story, sister. Love you.
Megan Card - October 11th, 2012 at 5:42 PM
Seriously, Jen. Your posts need to come with a disclaimer: read with a box of Kleenex. Ugly cry going on.
Stephanie - October 11th, 2012 at 9:28 PM
Wow...I'm so excited to read about this organization! We've been praying about where God would have us give. It's been so discouraging lately learning how, even with good intentions you can do damage if things are not done right. This org. seems to really have it together and have a great plan! God Bless!
Sarah Melendez - October 11th, 2012 at 9:32 PM

I have so many things to say right now, but first of all, thank you for your beautiful post. You really hit so close to home with that, how much we have here in the States and how we take it all for granted. What a blessing it is for you and the team to be in Haiti serving those orphans and being a witness. It's amazing to see how God is working through you to these children.

Secondly, I'm a huge fan...of you and Haiti. I've had a burden to go before the earthquakes in 2010, but God has not opened the doors yet. But I'm praying and others are praying too, so I know that God will make a path for me.

In the meantime, my Mom's group at my church are reading your book 7. I've started a blog based on my own personal "7" journey and on Sunday 10/7, I posted about your Bloggers trip to Haiti and felt that burden again. I ended up sponsoring a child, Claudenet Blanc and I was SO excited to see you blog about him during your trip down there. I'm hoping to join Help One Now on a missions trip next year and I just wanted to share my own experiences and let you know that we are praying for those children at the Yaveh Shamma Orphanage and all throughout Haiti.
Rebecca - October 12th, 2012 at 11:24 AM
I just have no words for this post. It stirred my soul but not in a way I can just read it and then passively move on. Thank you for making these dead bones in me want to rise up again... thank you for calling them forth...

My heart... may it remain hot... that is my prayer today because I cannot take feeling a passion and then letting it just turn to lukewarm passivity any more in my life.

Thank you again... I have shared this post with as many as will read it!
Painted Maypole - October 13th, 2012 at 5:29 PM
When I write the letters to my sponsored student, I never thought so much about he might treasure them. This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.
Zak - October 13th, 2012 at 8:22 PM
God has so used you to put a heat in the hearts of my wife and me.

I completely agree with what was said above that your posts should have a disclaimer. Nothing like being a blubbering wreck right before having to run off to a meeting!

Thank you for the work you do. Thank you for your words that challenge and inspire all that dare to read them. Thank you for being the catalyst of irreversible change in our lives.
Mary (Owlhaven) - October 19th, 2012 at 3:10 PM
Hi Jen, So much enjoyed our brief chat about post-adoption issues after the blogger dinner in Birmingham last month. I know you and I both share the same heart for orphans, and we both also know the tremendous cost and the laying-down of life it takes to parent these precious ones. I can't remember if I mentioned my latest book project? The working title is 'Second Mom: mothering kids whose lives began with someone else". My heart is to encourage, inspire, and better equip adoptive families walking along this hard parenting road. I realized after speaking with you that I'd really love a back cover blurb from you, or maybe even a forward, if you find that the book speaks to your heart and to the needs of adoptive families. If you think you could find time to read the book (probably next summer) would you email me?
Thanks for considering this-- I know how busy you must be.
Mary, momma to 10 including 4 from Ethiopia and 2 from Korea
Kate - October 20th, 2012 at 9:46 PM
I will never forget meeting a "Compassion Child" all grown up and here in the states to tell his story. It was hard for me to believe that so little money could do so much before that.
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