Haiti, Personal Crisis, and a Manifesto
by Jen Hatmaker on October 19th, 2012

“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.” ~Life of Pi
 
I read this international bestseller on the way home from Haiti one week ago today, where I’d been writing on behalf of Help One Now and the extraordinary people of Haiti for a week. The reader response was terribly sincere but small. Gains on child sponsorship were modest. The content was just so difficult, for the writers, readers, all of us. What do we do with Tent City, horrifically dubbed “rape camp”? What do we do with all these orphaned kids? What do we do with these heroic pastors pouring their very lives out for their people? We don’t know. Tears? Yes. Action? Maybe not.

Then I came home and wrote a piece on the election, which has apparently gone to the ends of the earth. I’ve been called dangerous, scary, stupid, sinful, liberal of course, and apparently I’m “living on the fence with the devil.” (I had no idea.) (But someone also offered to drive to Austin and buy me a margarita, so it wasn’t all bad news.) And to be fair, the positive reaction, by far the largest majority, was equally strong. For better or worse, readers felt strong enough to repost, refute, rejoice, retweet, rebut, repin, and reread.
 
The dichotomy put me into mild despair.
 
And I’m not pointing my finger at you, good readers. I am, after all, the girl who found the emotional energy to write such a charged piece three days after returning from Haiti. How was I able to suspend the emotional turmoil that quickly? It’s so easy to get incensed over American politics; that pill goes down like a dream compared to rape camp. Identify with Jesus in His sufferings? Pass. Identify with a political party? Sign me the freak up.
 
I woke up this morning with my heart aching with the words of the prophets, so often my plumb line. I hear God’s anguish fresh, His disbelief at the priorities of the assembly. Read them carefully, for they reek of relevance:
 
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:21-24)
 
“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations – I cannot bear your worthless assemblies… When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:13-17)

“Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’…Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:3-4, 6-7)

“Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:7-8)


What makes me truly angry? For whom does my passionate soul cry? What leaves my blood boiling, my heart aching, my belly rumbling for injustice? What prophetic story am I telling with my life? I can assure you I do not hate my own sin nearly as much as I hate everyone else’s. Nor is any injustice as grave as those done unto me, in my First World setting, where I imagine I know the slightest meaning of persecution.

When it is all over, what is my legacy in Christ?

Readers, I want you to hear me now. I’m saying this out loud, having been reproved by the prophets, redirected by God’s holy heartbeat. I receive it, this correction. I hear you, God; I recognize what you grieve for. I see this world, of which I reside in the top 1% of wealth, and I will not imagine that much is not required from whom much has been given. I refuse to identify myself somewhere in the middle of the pack, because I am so far removed from the common human experience, I know I cannot trust my perspective.

While babies are born in tent camps and pastors are sleeping outdoors on mattresses next to the orphans they are raising, I will not defile my holy task by turning your Word into a metaphor, imagining that orphans doesn’t mean orphans and hungry doesn’t mean hungry. So help me, if I ever claim American Christians are "the oppressed" again, strike me dead. I mean it. Put me out of my misery, for I am on a fool’s errand at that point.
 
I will wield hate indeed, but only for the things you hate, Jesus: injustice, self-righteousness, the substitution of religion for discipleship, brokenness. And I will hate those things in myself first, until your mysterious love somehow transforms them into your glory. I will not lay my privileged head on my pillow every night having spent the day protecting my station. If I never enjoy a good night’s sleep the rest of my life, may injustice keep me up at night, beckoning me to hold a vigil with Jesus over those suffering.

Here are my hands. They are yours.

Here is my wallet. Take it.

Here are my powerful prayer words. Direct them.

Here is my comfortable happiness. Ruin it.

Here is my sin. Transform me.

Here is my heart. Break it.

I hope one day I’ll write of Haiti and the outcry will reach past our eyes, through our minds, beyond our heartstrings, and all the way to our hands. May Loving Mercy be the battle cry of the assembly, to the detriment of our own safety and insulation. Expose our own sin, Lord, for repentance is the beginning of revelation. I beg you, do not leave us in our selfishness of the side of the road, disabled by our own blindness, but tear off the scales and teach us to see.

“These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.” ~Life of Pi


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184 Comments

Michele - October 19th, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Beautifully written, Jen. May God use your words to soften all of our hearts, no matter what side of the political fence we reside, to remember our Commission is much greater than just who we vote for in an election.
Christy McDonald - October 19th, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Thank you, I just got back from Haiti and feel this deeply.
Susan Krause - October 19th, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Thank you for being so vulnerable, transparent, and biblical.
Your voice beckons me.
Jen - October 19th, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Jen, These words.
It is so much easier for me to engage political debate than to read the posts from Haiti because in one I feel power, I feel control, and I know that in just a few short weeks, the urgency will wane. But Haiti, oh those children in Haiti, that is a problem I cannot bear to take on because it feels too big, too much. The scope and size of poverty overwhelms. I feel utterly helpless and the faces and stories cause my heart to hurt, especially when I then look at pictures of my boys born into such a different world. And yet, I forget that I can still do my part.
I cannot fix the political world. But I can vote and I will vote.
I cannot take home all the orphans or feed all the hungry. But I can care for one, or two, through child sponsorship.
Diane - October 19th, 2012 at 11:21 AM
The reason many get their buns in a wad over political issues is because they have the "luxury" to do so...they don't have to worry about where their next meal will come from, or their physical, mental or emotional safety, like those in other countries who have no one looking out for them. I am so convicted in this post of the ridiculous things I let bother me...when I should be bothered about the things that would bother my Lord. O God, forgive me! Open my wallet, my eyes, my heart!
Lisa - October 19th, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Amen.
Jenn - October 19th, 2012 at 11:23 AM
2 Things: 1, I'll be there in two weeks and I will also buy you a margarita. And 2, Your Haiti posts moved me so much I had trouble responding... and I'm an overcommunicator. Instead, I've taken it to the Lord in prayer and asking Him how I can help. Perhaps others are in a similar place?
Julie Steigner - October 19th, 2012 at 12:05 PM
This.
jfred - October 19th, 2012 at 12:05 PM
I agree with this. The depths of pain and care and need....it's something I am processing and praying over. God IS working in us for His cause, His people, and the needs of others.
Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I think absolutely you're right. Politics inspire an easy response. Extreme poverty? NOT SO MUCH. This requires way more time and prayer. Totally true.
Tonya Garrick - October 19th, 2012 at 1:04 PM
It's easy to get in an uproar over politics because it does not affect us. Our opinions may cause a few people to unfriend us on Facebook, but we do not lose anything. We do not sacrifice anything. To live out scripture that tells us to take care of others, other that we do not have to see or understand, see their needs and their starvation, others that can be ignored or just "prayed for" is another story.
Thank you for this.
Ceil Murphy - October 19th, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Oh my goodness... Thank you so much
Sandi Gordon - October 19th, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Thank you, my heart has been longing for this reminder.
Meredith - October 19th, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Don't worry about the naysayers regarding your political post the other day. So many are blinded (in both parties) by fear-mongering and indoctrination that they cannot see just how truly "Christian" your thoughts were on those points. It's okay--let them insult and condemn...it just proves the point even more that those are not Jesus' ways. Keep examining and thinking through issues and courageously sharing your thoughts.
Christine - October 19th, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Amen. So wonderfully written from your heart and soul. Thank you for sharing this today...I needed it!
Hannah Roberts - October 19th, 2012 at 11:27 AM
Oh my goodness....your words pierce my heart...just like your book 7 did. I get so frustrated trying to get this message out...feel like I'm constantly on my soapbox about the poor, needy, abuse, neglected..., yet I also constantly fall short of what I truly believe God has called us ALL to do....I am a friend of Dan King's and was so wished I could have ben on the trip to Haiti...personally, I feeel I get imobilized by the need. I work with at risk pregnant women and children in my town and I can't even keep up with their needs..let alone the additional ones presented to me every day. We also are fostering a baby and maybe her sibling who will be born in a few months....we might be able to adopt them...but oh how there are so many more to take in...this is why we need to keep sending out the message...i really just wish Christians would admit that what JEsus has called us to asnd requires of us..is just too hard and honestly we don't want to do it..becasue the sacrifice is too great....I'm constantly on the verge of selling everything we have to move to some country and some people group...but then what... i never feel my plan is good enough past there...but the feeling that this life in America and putting our own needs first and living are happy Christian lives is so totally opposite from what I should be doing is always with me! Your words and SArah's and Kristen's and others give me the push I need to keep seeking how else can I serve...where can God lead...Thanks You for saying things so much more eloquently than I can and encouraging me to action!
Dan King - October 19th, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Hannah... you rock. I so love your heart...
Marlisa - October 20th, 2012 at 7:04 PM
Hannah, it is always GOD's work, Christ's work in us. God is not glorified when we neglect our families and homes to do and do and do and do to be His hands and feet...and arms and legs and everything. We can recruit and encourage...but even that, is Christ's workmanship. His Holy Spirit's work. We can move as we are led by Him, but if we are led by guilt or fear or condemnation, then we are working by the flesh. Ask God what He wants YOU to do...and He will multiply your efforts....anything else is in the flesh and He doesn't receive glory for that. Its about Him , not us. He leads gently, and if you are married, He will lead you by your husband....trust His leading and live in peace. He doesn't expect YOU to heal the world. Even Jesus didn't heal everyone, but those He truly encountered, CHANGED fully. We need to seek the Holy Spirit, and be filled, empowered and driven by Him, rather than our selves. We are so easily guilted into action, when His redemption and authority are hidden in Him. Seek Him first and you will never feel small or weak. He will USE you beyond you, but He will always get the glory.
Mollie - October 19th, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Love you friend. Good words.
Leigh Ann Cannady - October 19th, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Hi there, Jen. I'm not really the type who typically comments on these sorts of things....just sending up my random comments into the great unknown doesn't seem to matter very much, and as I'm sure you''re about to see, I'm not particularly succinct. But apparently, it matters to the heart of those writing and I guess I should be a little more vocal on what changes are happening in my life thanks to these words. I don't know about small readership for the Help One Now blog campaign, but what I DO know is that I read each and every blog and was affected in a BIG way. I finished 7 shortly before you left for Haiti and I feel a little like, after reading that book and reading these blogs, that the Lord has hit me so hard over the head that I don't think things can ever go back to being like they once were. My family and I are trying to discern just what all of this means for us. We've always comfortably supported a child in Indonesia through Compassion International and made our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at Christmas like "good" Christians who care about the "less fortunate", but we have realized that enough is enough. We can't sit on the sidelines any more.

We recently changed churches in Atlanta to one that we loved the pastor and the music, etc...all the normal reasons that you love a church. The church also happens to be passionate about the people of our city, poverty, human trafficking, etc. In the middle of finishing 7 and watching your trip through Haiti, several teams from our church went to Africa--along with our pastor--for Passion conferences and the other teams went into Uganda to build orphanages. While our pastor was gone, Gary Haugen from International Justice Ministries came and spoke at church. This has all been in the last three weeks. I feel I can safely assume that God is trying to get my attention.

I write all that to say, you're being heard. What you're saying matters. We, who support you and believe what you believe are out here. We are overwhelmed just like you are. We are trying to figure out where to start and how to begin affecting a problem that is so large it seems unimaginable in scope. While we will continue to support our sweet Chelsia in Indonesia and making our boxes this Christmas, we know now it's not enough. The way we live is grossly out of step with what Jesus taught. We are terrified by this, we are afraid of what it means, we are scared of how far out of our "comfort zone" (I hate that phrase), the Lord will ask us to step. But we are willing. We are praying. We are trying to figure out where to begin and what we will do to make our footprints on this earth matter more than just how smart our kids are or what kind of car we drive or even what charities we donated to. We're here. We hear you. We're running the same direction you are.
Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Thank you for this incredible response. Running with you, girl. And slightly nervous at the lengths God is going to chase you down right now... ;0)
Christina - October 19th, 2012 at 1:12 PM
Leigh Ann, I think I might have to quote you in my Christmas letter this year. Love your words.

Hannah - October 19th, 2012 at 1:24 PM
ya..that's what I was trying to say too :)
Kara Janzen - October 19th, 2012 at 1:58 PM
You hit it on the head! I too, rarely comment, but I am reading every one of Jen's posts and I have been so moved by her message. It is hard to comment when your mind is constantly churning and wrestling with all these thoughts! But there is so much good happening--I see it. People are being challenged and are wanting to change. Thank you so much, Jen, for the message you give to us. You really are changing hearts and lives.
Carrie - October 19th, 2012 at 2:32 PM
Yes. This is where I am too. God is changing me, and working in me in a very uncomfortable way.
I am praying and constantly thinking "what is it You want me do do with this".

Kasey - October 19th, 2012 at 3:10 PM
yes. encouraging to hear so many in the same place as me...us...

Karen Graham - October 19th, 2012 at 5:07 PM
So well written and the hearts cry of many. But like Leigh Ann, a feeling of being overwhelmed at the brokenness of the world and what the next step is.
Heather M. - October 19th, 2012 at 10:07 PM
i've never commented before but after reading this, i must. and since leigh ann took the words right out of my mouth, i'll just add my amen.
Lisa - October 21st, 2012 at 2:21 PM
Amen to Leigh Ann! I'm there too...be encouraged, Jen!
Amy G - October 21st, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Amen! Amen! Amen!
Shelly - October 19th, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Straight to the heart. I don't know what else to say. "Here are my hands. They are yours. . . Here is my heart, break it." May we all pray the same prayer and be transformed so that others can begin to understand what the love of Christ is. Thank you
Monica - October 19th, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Yes! My prayer each day as well. It is so easy, so very easy to get caught up in the ridiculousness of our privileged, rich lives. We are called to a higher standard and the words of scripture are so very clear. Yes, we like to water them down to a comfortable middle-class American metaphor.

I love how God is transforming your heart and how you are sharing that journey with so many. God is at work in our lives. We must never forget that our battles are not against flesh and blood. Those evil, unseen forces are at work daily trying to throw us off track. Our doubt, our fear, our stupid American concerns.

Thanks for sharing!
Crump - October 19th, 2012 at 11:36 AM
I read this as a battle cry. Not as a symphony of sorrow. A bold pronouncement of direct cause and resolve. I am renewed.

No excuses, huh? Alright. I'll be your Huckleberry.

Also, the Tiger is never what you think it is.....
Stacy - October 19th, 2012 at 11:37 AM
I identify with Jenn @ 11:23's comment - the posts moved me so much I feel overwhelmed. I know several people who have been to Haiti to help, as nurses, midwives, rebuilding. The need is so great that it leaves one feeling helpless at where to begin, where to send money. I sent money with a close friend, to sponsor children in a school for their schoolbooks and clothes, and she brought the money back to me, saying the school was a fraud and the money was not getting to the children we thought it was. My husband and I want to, and are able, to help. We don't want to send money that doesn't reach those who need it most. We don't want to fill the pockets of the organizations who claim to help the homeless, the sick, when it is a lie. We don't know who to trust? So it is easier to just forget, and keep going about our busy daily lives of the same old schedule and taking care of our own spoiled, overprivileged children, donating our money to our church that does need funds to keep running.
Katie - October 19th, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Game. Changer.
Ellen - October 19th, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Because we seem to agree on so much, I find myself wanting to say, "But your political rants are RIGHT! The world needs them!" I know, though, that I am guilty of the exact same things. I can get so riled about politics, but have the hardest time mustering enough compassion for the homeless man on the corner, from the comfort of my car! "...it is to their defense, not God%u2019s, that the self-righteous should rush.%u201D Oof. Lord, let my self-righteousness be altogether redirected if it won't be altogether removed! Thank you so much, Jen.
Cyndi - October 19th, 2012 at 11:40 AM
We are missionaries, living in a Third World country, in the midst of the mess that is children starving, women being sold into sexual slavery, horrific spousal and child abuse...under an athiest president who has told God to take a hike. I see it every day. And I have never been more convicted of my own selfishness than I am right now.

I wish we could have coffee...I have so much to learn.
Erin - October 19th, 2012 at 4:33 PM
Press on, dear one.
Kori - October 23rd, 2012 at 10:35 AM
praying that God will give you the strength you need and the people you are serving. God bless you!
Kelly - October 19th, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Amen and thank you.
~Karrilee~ - October 19th, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Thank you for this! I must say - I read both posts (and maybe one more - as I just recently found you!) and I loved them both - because they are honest... which is why I am also reposting this one! May it accomplish within us what He wills, and move through and overflow out to be His hands... His heart... to those both near and far! Thank you for the stirring!
Lisa-Jo - October 19th, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Oh man, I think I'm gonna comment on this one.

Taking a deep breath. Fingers trembling on this keyboard marked up by my kids' permanent marker. But I'd like to tip toe into this hornet's nest and offer just this (possible) explanation for why trips like this don't generate the kind of response that is perhaps anticipated by those who felt called to go in the first place - and maybe that it's not because we are all immune to the evil or the poverty or the battle cry to do something.

{Deep breath}: we are part of a body, yes? And the body has different functions. We are each called and built and designed to serve in unique ways. And -here it comes - it's OK if that way isn't in Haiti. It's OK if that way is to serve the single mom next door. Or the church food pantry. Or with our kid who has a disability. Or on the difficult, hard-to-navigate parent-teacher committee. Serving where you are at is not the same as turning a blind eye or being unmoved by the tragedies in places like Haiti.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that we are called to serve where we are first before we serve elsewhere. God's call on my life does not look like God's call on someone else's. Poverty exists everywhere. Sometimes it looks like wealth even. But spiritual poverty is just as severe.

Because the Spirit moves me to action in one arena and you to action in another does not imply that either of us is passive. It is becoming easier and easier these days to be overwhelmed to the point of immobility by the various causes, campaigns and crises that shout at us from blogs and newspapers and well meaning advocates. But maybe it isn't that we're deaf or hard hearted or sinful. Maybe we're just being faithful to the every day areas where we are certain we are supposed to invest and serve. This is not a small thing. This is the revolution of the Gospel that plays out in the hardest parts of life precisely because they may seem so ordinary and unblogworthy.

This all coming from a girl who trained as a human rights lawyer and lived and worked in Ukraine for two and a half years combating human trafficking and spending day in and day out with the victims of it. This from the girl who comes from South Africa where her parents are plowing their lives into the orphan and HIV crisis. This from the girl who thought she would spend her law degree in human rights tribunals advocating for one group of women (the kind you met in Haiti) and for whom God has channeled all that passion into advocating for another, no less important group (the moms I write to and encourage on my blog).

I've read many a post on social injustice and human rights over the last two years. I've written many myself. But I want to give my brothers and sisters room to breathe and believe that it's OK if they're not called to every single possible cause that beats a drum beat to join.

I want them to know that the ways they live out Christ in their own neighborhood are just as causeworthy. I want them to know that Jesus lived most of his own life in probably a thirty mile radius or so. I want them to be able to exhale and stop feeling guilty for being believers if they aren't responding to calls to action with more than prayer. Since when is prayer a small response? I want us to be free to serve in the way we are each called. According to our unique gifts and talents.

I guess what I'm saying is that a lack of response to a Haiti trip does not equal a lack of response to injustice. As always, context is king. And we can't claim to know the context of the readers of the Haiti posts or the Compassion posts or the Food for the Hungry posts. Let us assume the best of them - that they are faithful servants plowing their lives into their neighborhoods and children and communities. And let us be encouraged that there will always be those that God builds a call into to serve Haiti. I have seen this with South Africa. This is my prayer and my hope and my song. I see His people serve there daily. Faithfully. Against tremendous odds. But it doesn't make me doubt the faithfulness of those who don't go.

America is no less in need of lives spent living out the hands and feet of the Gospel.

So thank you for your passion Jen. Thank you for your pulpit. Thank you for your action. And to your readers who feel tired or run down or lost or guilty reading the posts that I and others have written about the stories from Guatemala or Haiti or you name it, thank YOU for your service to Jesus right where you are. Wherever you are. Wherever you serve. He sees and knows and built you for that service. Thank you for being faithful. May we not tire you out with our own passions. May we simply encourage one another to keep running hard the race set before us.

yours with trembling fingers and an open heart
Lisa-Jo
Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Nope, Haiti is not the end-all. And I'm certainly surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses here in our little city and all around the world, giving their lives away. Proud. Honored. The answer is not "Haiti"...the question is "What prophetic story am I writing with my life?" Which is why the brunt of this post was directed at its writer, as one who prefers easier trappings and shallower waters. There is little ambiguity to God's Word on our care for one another, but how that manifests is as diverse as we are people. But I will also continue to write for the legion of dear Christ-followers who tell me: "I don't know where to begin." Well...I have some ideas. ;0)
Jenn LeBow - October 19th, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I agree with both of you. And I think the answer to the question, "What prophetic story am I writing with my life?" looks different to each person, not only because God made us each to have a different impact, but because each of us is enthralled by and torn apart by something different. Also part of the grand design. I'm also thinking about the surprise inherent in the plot lines of each story. Which of us is living exactly the life we'd envisioned? Almost none of us! God is good to keep us slightly off-balance - it fosters our willingness to open up and let Him do what we cannot in response to the plot twists.

We need to have a mix of broken hearts for Haiti (or wherever) and outspoken words for the election. We need to love the needy and call out the privileged, especially when we find ourselves in one of those camps.

Thanks to Jen and Lisa-Jo for your words here.
Kim - October 19th, 2012 at 12:33 PM
So very well said, Lisa-Jo, as always. Tears in my eyes at your reply. It is so very easy for each of us to discount what we do as never enough, that sometimes we must get others to sign on to our bigger hopes and dreams for ministries, or to sign on ourselves to something "more meaningful". While we moms acknowledge how pervasive peer pressure is, it's got nothing on how hard we are on ourselves. :-)

I lived way too much of my life wishing I was the leader who drew tremendously big visions for others, and led them forward. Alas, I am not, and I have come to terms with that. I dislike admitting this, but I look sometimes with envy at the ability to do work in places like Haiti, but I have made choices that presently leave me as the encourager and message-spreader. I have mostly made peace with that, although it is admittedly a work in progress. :-)

As you said, we all have our calling, whether that is ministering to our families, growing our children into the people God designed them to be, supporting our local food pantries, blogging for friends, family and beyond. Jen, I am grateful for your heart for Haiti, and that you are able to take action. Blessings to you in your work!

At the end of the day, I am happy to know others who are able to serve, especially in ways I can't or don't. As you noted, we have the opportunity to serve where we are.

Holley Gerth - October 19th, 2012 at 1:13 PM
Thank you for adding this to the conversation, Lisa-Jo. I appreciate your perspective and have watched you walk it faithfully online and in your personal life.
M Marie - October 20th, 2012 at 2:54 AM
While I agree with you, I think you are the exception.

Having just moved our entire family overseas and coming face to face with the ugliness of my own heart in the process, I have realized that Americans don't really need encouragement to stay in America and keep doing what they are doing. Now hear me, I am NOT saying that no one should stay and be a light to neighbors, or the homeless, or be passionate about the lost souls in the States. What I am saying is that it's not like we have this exorbitant number of people leaving or caring about the least in mass numbers, in fact the opposite is true. And I think that needs to be questioned.

So, my only push back here is that yes, for your family and the way you have diligently sought the Lord and have a for sure and clear calling to stay, I think all of us as one body should back and support that. Because, you're right, we have different passions & callings! But, I'm going to go so far as to say that the vast majority of American believers that feel "called" to the States are wanting to be comfortable & safe. They don't feel called to anything else because they've never asked. So no, to the majority of people out there, I don't think we need to be patting them on the back and telling them not to compare... I think someone, anyone, needs to be calling the American body to SEEK what the Lord truly has for them.

And for Jesus staying in about a 30 mile radius, yes he did, but he GAVE UP HIS LIFE in that radius. So I just think we need to be careful when we use that as an excuse to stay in good ole suburbia, because well, that's where we were born! And I also don't think we can throw out Paul, and all of the disciples for that matter, that literally gave everything to follow Him.

Once again, this is not written for the families who have really laid everything down and gone to the Lord with this, this is written for those who have never asked what the Lord has for them... that have never asked "what prophetic story am I writing with my life?"
Jenni - October 20th, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Thank you for your words, Lisa-Jo. In times when I feel paralyzed by all the needs and causes I see, it was a breath of fresh air to read your words and know that God is smiling on me as I minister to the teens in our youth group, invite my neighbor over for dinner, send an encouraging note to a friend, and love on my kids every day. Yes, I need to be motivated to move outside my comfort zone and minister to the literal orphans and widows, and I appreciate people like Jen who do that. But my day-to-day sacrifices and service does not go unnoticed by God -- he does not see them as trivial and think they are "nothing" compared to what pastors in Haiti are doing. Thank you for your encouraging words. They truly did breathe life into my doubting spirit.
Amy - October 20th, 2012 at 1:07 PM
Yes. Yes.
God's call to care for orphans in my life turned in to 2 China adoptions, and maybe more to come.
Does God call ALL Christians to adopt children? NO.
He does call all Christians to care for orphans...and widows...and the poor...and strangers...and...the list goes on.
My church has a sign above its front door. We see it as we leave every Sunday. It says: "You are now entering the mission field."
Yep. The mission field is my own neighborhood. My community. My town. And, if God wills it so, China, or Haiti, or South Africa, or...
Amy
alissa - November 14th, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Amen. Often I feel "guilty" by my lack of ability to skip across to Haiti or Africa, but I forget I have 5 little souls at home watching me. I forget that I have a neighborhood that lives in passivity. I forget that I minister to engaged couples who when married could rock this world by living out marriage as God intended. God has each is our place, some people's place is Haiti, some people's place in Dallas, Texas in the midst of extreme materialism. Either way, God is using it to His glory.
If I'm living passively, then that's a problem. If I'm falling into bed every night because I used all that God gave me that day for Him, it was a day used for Him.
MEC - September 8th, 2013 at 3:49 PM
I'm way late to the party, but feel compelled to respond at any rate.
First, thank you. People like Jen and you inspire and motivate people like me to do something - anything - to make a difference in the lives of the most helpless and the most needy. But, as someone who wears threadbare clothing myself, is often unsure how we'll keep the electric on for another month and struggles to make sure our daughter has diapers, I often wonder how I can possibly help the world-at-large, those who would be grateful to even have a roof over their heads or (firstworldproblems) electricity to try and keep on. I recently started to volunteer my time to a local children's outreach program, and am also volunteering for the 'serving' part of the local food pantry through my church. It's heartening to know that these things matter too, as I read through the HelpOneNow children and my heart aches to help. Doing something, anything, with the hopes that God will provide for us all.
Nate - October 19th, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Wow! I love this. You nailed it.

What makes me truly angry? For whom does my passionate soul cry? What leaves my blood boiling, my heart aching, my belly rumbling for injustice? What prophetic story am I telling with my life? I can assure you I do not hate my own sin nearly as much as I hate everyone else%u2019s. Nor is any injustice as grave as those done unto me, in my First World setting, where I imagine I know the slightest meaning of persecution.

This brought me to tears - thank you for your honesty!

Mattie - October 19th, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Amen, Lisa-Jo. Amen.
Carrie - October 19th, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Oh man. The words of the those prophets burn going down. But it's a good burn. Thank you thank you for this post. I'm on the 5th day home from a two week stint in Ethiopia spent bringing our girls home and loving as many people as we could in the process. I am, of course a complete wreck for various obvious reasons. If my time in the beautiful, heartwrenching country of ET and now loving my two little pieces of Ethiopia through their healing journey has done one thing for me, it is to have answered this prayer that I have asked of God so many times in the past year. "Lord open my eyes to my own sinful, self centered heart, and help me to be in awe of the grace you have poured over me." Suddenly I'm seeing it. I see the hungry eyes of the children on the streets begging me for food when I'm complaining about fixing dinner. I catch myself fuming over interrupted sleep due to a crying baby, only to look at her face and realize in the last 6 months, she lost her mother, lived in 2 different orphanages, has been sick multiple times, and just spent 24 hrs of travel crossing 7 time zones to enter a strange house with strange smells, language, and people, yet she still finds reason to laugh. And when she does cry I fume?? And I whine about wanting more time for myself when for 14 days I watched from my comfortable guest house window as mothers came out of their tin roofed homes with dirt floors to do their laundry in basins and cook their family dinner over small fires? I'm joining with you, "I will wield hate indeed, but only for the things you hate, Jesus: injustice, self-righteousness, the substitution of religion for discipleship, brokenness. And I will hate those things in myself first, until your mysterious love somehow transforms them into your glory." This youth camp song has been burning in my soul the past weeks, "Yes I'll be poured out like wine upon the altar for You, yes I'll be broken like bread to feed the hungry, yes I'll be so one with You that I would do just as you will, yes I'll be light, and life, and love Your word fulfilled." So easy to sing in the comfort zone of life, so humbling when the reality of the sacrifice, of the pouring out is being seen and felt.
Sarah Longing - October 19th, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Jen, I had this same reflection the other day as I posted a link about the chocolate/child slavery post from Kristen. I heard...crickets. I was sick thinking about how on Chic Fil A day, the believers of the world rang out with huge support for a multi million dollar company and then said nothing about children in crisis. How is this possible? My heart has been smashed ever since. I'm having to practice a lot of grace for those around me but that is wearing thin. Also, today Big Tex at the state fair caught on fire and fb is going nuts sharing that info. Lord have mercy on your church and open our hearts and eyes wide to need and help us fill it with all you've given us.
Rebecca - October 19th, 2012 at 1:44 PM
Amen, sister :-)
Alyssa - October 19th, 2012 at 3:50 PM
"I was sick thinking about how on Chic Fil A day, the believers of the world rang out with huge support for a multi million dollar company and then said nothing about children in crisis. How is this possible? My heart has been smashed ever since."

Yes yes yes. Lord have mercy, indeed.
Corrina - October 19th, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Thank you. This is my heart. Yet it's so easy to get lost in the day to day.
sally - October 19th, 2012 at 12:00 PM
my favorite post you have ever written.
Kim - October 19th, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I'm reading, I'm here, I'm digesting it all. Haiti is heavy on my heart at the moment, our church sent some folks there over the summer and the heaviness they brought back to help these wonderful people was evident. Your words are important and the legacy of them is important. We all need our worlds turned upside down for God's will, we need to stop thinking the problems are someone else's to clean up. We need to let God show us what gifts He's given us and how to use them for His kingdom. You are using your gifts and I'm listening and my heart aches for change in myself.
Stefanie - October 19th, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Love this post. Love it even more the second time I read it.
I recently began praying for wisdom, having no idea what that would look like. Well, God has been giving me wisdom, but it is wisdom to see my own failing, sin and falleness. Pride and self-righteousness are some of the most hideous things I've ever seen, and now God has helped me to see them oh-so-clearly IN ME.
I am grieved. But not without hope. Only God can reveal such things and never, ever cause me to doubt His overwhelming love for me.
Thank you for being His mouthpiece today.
Amy - October 19th, 2012 at 12:06 PM
You said: "What do we do with all these orphaned kids? What do we do with these heroic pastors pouring their very lives out for their people? We don%u2019t know. Tears? Yes. Action? Maybe not."

I don't know for sure what the demographic is of your blog readers, but I'm guessing they are somewhat like me: I have friends who are adopting that we are supporting, we are sponsoring a child through Compassion, and we are putting our money toward organizations that are helping those that are hungry and without families. We do without things like cable/Dish, smartphones and data plans and date nights. We are living simply so that we can give sacrificially.

Not all of your readers are like me, but I'm guessing a good portion are. We have been moved to action. It's possible that the "action" is happening somewhere else.

Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Absolutely. 100%. This is a manifesto for life, not necessarily my pet project. I honor God's work absolutely everywhere it is demostrated!!! I believe the swell is rising....
Amy - October 19th, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Yes, it is!

Thank you for sharing how the Holy Spirit is moving you. I know that hearing stories of other people being moved and obedient has caused many (including myself) to take action.

crystal @ Serving Joyfully - October 19th, 2012 at 1:38 PM
I completely agree! It's important to remember that a lack of support/response to you and your specific cause in your specifc way doesn't equal a lack of support/reaction God and His call. I actually DO have a heart for Haiti, I just help through another organization...and, I'm already doing it, I've been doing it.

We have to remember that no one can possibly pour themselves, their heart, their finances into every single worthy cause. It's awesome that you have passion, and can use that to inspire others but be careful not to judge others for not responding to your call...when many are already responding to God's call on their lives in very real ways.
d.l. mayfield - October 19th, 2012 at 12:08 PM
have you read the prophetic imagination by brueggemann yet? god is telling this kick-ass story all throughout the old testament and we have made it into a show, a very shoddy one at that. i love reading the prophets now, because they cut like a knife and push me out my door.
Sarah bessey - October 19th, 2012 at 2:51 PM
Brueggermann!
Angie - October 19th, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Beautifully put Lisa Jo
Brandi - October 19th, 2012 at 12:11 PM
So much to say and I can't find the words. I don't often comment but I do read everything you write. I appreciated each word I read about Haiti. I feel like a stone statue not knowing what to do to help. Will sponsoring another child help? How much pressure you must be under when people like me lurk in the shadows waiting to hear what to do. Oh my. I forget the Bible tells me what to do. Why am I not doing it?

As for the political post. I appreciated it. I appreciate someone being kind and civil and honest. I would love to sit down and have a cup of coffee and discuss it with you. Then we could talk about Haiti and saving the world.
Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Don't kid yourself, Brandi. I too am often a stone statue sitting in the shadows waiting for someone to tell me what to do. Hence, this whole confessional to you today. Love to you, sister.
Becky - October 19th, 2012 at 12:18 PM
I LOVED your post on the election. It was spot on and exactly how I feel. Those sitting on the fence does not include you. Keep up the good work, and as my pastor once said, "it is always too soon to quit!"
michelle - October 19th, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I hear it. I feel it. I'm overwhelmed. I feel like my giving and focus are scattered. I am struggling to find a church community in our town who is focused on what's going on outside it's building and programs. I feel alone in my frustrations here in my city.

When I read your words I'm encouraged, convicted, confused, hopeful and shattered all at once.

Like Lisa Jo wrote, many parts to the body. Many passions. But what about those of us who are struggling? We know we need to do something. But what? We don't have that clear direction or passion.

I think I've never known a crisis of conscience like this one. And everyday that passes that I don't have clarity on what I'm supposed to be doing to be part of the solution is painful.

So thank you for writing. It does make a difference. Some of us are in the process of having our hearts all rearranged by God. It's brutal. And perhaps while reading the stories you tell, while we haven't yet taken action, we are being prepared for action.


Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 12:43 PM
MIchelle, may I let you off the hook just a bit? This is my sincere belief: with so much need on this planet, I don't think God is waiting for some Bulls-Eye Moment necessarily for His folks. Orphans, widows, hungry, poor, refugees, the lonely, the sick, the lost...there is a large umbrella over our mission. God is for the orphan, so if you are for the orphan, He is for you. He is for the prisoner, so if you are for the prisoner, He is for you. In the spirit of grace, maybe just pick something. A place, a people group, a need, an injustice. I don't think one day God will say to you: "DANG IT!!! I said ORPHAN and you served WIDOWS!" ;0) There is a freedom in simply moving. Sometimes clarity is found in the middle of action, not necessarily before it. Once upon a time, I sponsored a kid in Haiti. No big deal. $38 a month. Small potatoes. Then God developed it into a love affair and now I'm in 100 other ways. This can happen in any missional sphere...in your city, in your heart, in your giftings. No more guilt, sister. The heart rearrangement process is indeed brutal, and it is a weird relief to finally take that first step somewhere, even if it costs us. Love to you.
Karin @ sunrisewithasixpack - October 19th, 2012 at 3:03 PM
Stunning. Your words, Jen, are from a heart ripped open. Lisa-Jo, you are ever the cheerleader for moms who feel like their ordinary could hardly be made extraordinary by an amazing God. The beauty of all this, as seen from the eyes of this military wife whose parents grew up in Nazi Germany, is that we can speak His truth... openly. I'm with you, Jen, in starting with sponsorship of 2 kids in Haiti. It wrecks me to look around and see the millions of places our hands and feet are needed. The politics, the need, the poverty, it all overwhelms. The beauty is the eyes opening. There are plenty of readers who just never respond. The seeds are planted by your words. The beauty is we are instructed by God to do *something*. Every ounce of effort, every soul, matters. So true are your words... "Sometimes clarity is found in the middle of action, not necessarily before it."
Michelle, I'm with you, the rearranging of the heart is brutal.
We feed the ones put at our table, first. No matter the table. Jen, thanks for your words and your commitment.
Jessi - October 20th, 2012 at 3:19 PM
So often I get stuck wondering what exactly to do in response to God's call to serve orphans and widows and the forgotten and poor...and I spend too much time praying for direction. Until one day about a year ago: I was waiting for a court date call (we adopted from Russia) and praying about what else to do. I read something you wrote and realized I just had to move. I went room by room clearing out my house and held a garage sale for the organization through whom I met my daughter. Then I finished 7 and it wrecked my life completely. I now sit on my bed in my in-laws home where we live now, because we sold our house to pay down debt so we can give and live giving.

So...no matter what others say, God is using you to speak truth and to light a fire on people's hearts. He has rocked my worldview and my life...and Jen Hatmaker, you were His loud voice in my life that I just couldn't get away from. Keep following, seeking, and being REAL! Love you. Never met you, but LOVE you!
michelle - December 3rd, 2012 at 2:28 PM
Hi Jen,
I've been trying to figure out how to let you know that God used you (and a couple other things) to move me out of my inaction. After this reply from you to just MOVE I did. I made a move. I am now attending the poorest church in our city. There is an area in the back of the sanctuary for the homeless to bring their dogs into the church with them, because, ya know... where are you going to leave your dog during church if you have no home? I pulled some friends from the suburbs and we are going to prepare and serve a meal to 200 of our city's homeless through our poor tiny church. You were right. It wasn't necessarily important to have a bulls-eye moment. It was more important to GO. To take action. Thank you for being a loving and motivating voice.
Michelle - October 19th, 2012 at 9:44 PM
Thank you Jen. For every word you've ever written that God has used to shape my selfish heart. But mostly, thank you for taking the time to love me in my frustration and to extend grace and love. You are truly a mother to many and a sister to me.

DawnMarie - October 19th, 2012 at 12:37 PM
May God bless you and all whom you weep for. May He bless your journey even as your willingness opens you to new grief. May He grant you all that you ask for, and give you the grace to bear it.
Julie Gentino - October 19th, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I'm not a commenter either, but today I want to chime in as well and say that 7 has had a tremendous impact on my life. Our family recently moved home from India, and after witnessing so many heart-breaking things there every single day, we are still reeling. 7 is helping us bridge the gap between "there" and "here," between all we've seen and learned, and how it will change us today. Thank you. I also want to thank you for your blog. I am so proud of you for your honesty and your humility--you have the rare gift of speaking gut-honest, uncomfortable truth without sound abrasive or cynical. Your election/politics post was one of the best. And lastly: my husband said, "This girl is REALLY funny!!!!", which, if you knew him, you'd consider high praise. :)
Ashley - October 19th, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Love this. And of course I excitedly re-posted your political post to my FB page because you so eloquently expressed how I felt.
But now I read this.
And I am humbled....
Because herein lies the problem with our world.
This.
Not the petty stuff of politicians and the politics of our nation.
This is what it is all about.
It reminds me of a prayer I have said many times over...asking the Lord to open my eyes and let me see, don't let me get caught up in my first world "problems"...break my heart for what breaks yours.
Well said Jen...well said.
Heather S - October 19th, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Yes yes yes!! After our trips to ET for adoption and seeing how pouring into kids your love, attention, interaction, and affection just makes them light up. It amazed me, and still does, the difference it makes. They truly are little sponges that soak it right in. That they matter. When i go eat with my kids at school other kids i don't even know run up to me and Then there is much hugging. They dont know me, i dont know them. They just want to soak up a little more. Since then. Since reading ur posts (even the football video). Since the verse this morning. I NEED to figure this tugging on my heart.
melissa Toms - October 19th, 2012 at 1:02 PM
Thank you so much for sharing your heart in this post. I was one of the many so quick to "Share" your political blog post on facebook. I was so fed up with all of the political banter on there, and you so eloquently put into words how I had been feeling about the situation. Sadly I posted it because "everyone else" seemed to need a fresh perspective on the hot topic of the day, politics. Clearly, I am the one who needs some perspective on my own sin and self-righteousness. Using the term "oppression" in regards to Christians here in America is laughable. We have no idea what true oppression actually looks like, but we speak out so quickly and loudly at the least little "injustices" to our Christian "religion" here in the US. The Bible is clear on what true religion is and I thank you for that reminder as well. Not just the reminder in this post (which is incredible) but the consistent reminder you provide with the way you live your life, spend your time and the message you have so often touched me with in your books and other blog posts. Please don't ever think that the other posts did not have an impact or are changing lives! They are sister!
Leanna - October 19th, 2012 at 1:12 PM
I have to echo Michelle above. I read the posts from the whole team. I feel the tug, the tension. I add that I just finished 7 and Barefoot Church. and I sit here on the sidelines still not acting. Oh, and bought a new fancy camera for my husband this week, and really want to replace my dying smartphone.

I wish I could explain it. It's fear, it's uncertainty, it's a strange apathy to making a small impact and wanting to make a BIG one, then doing nothing. (Is this a version of wanting to give in public than in private? Hmm.) it's wanting to let go of my foolish tight grip on the stuff of the world, and not being ready to yet.

I skimmed the Scripture instead of really reading it. I hate to admit that. But it's a realization I'm coming to - beginning with 7. I love to read - books, blogs, etc. most of it not fluff - it's wonderful, Biblical truth, fleshed out. Except its all through someone else's eyes. I'm starting to let the deep experiences of others take the place of my own experience and what God wants to speak to me and show me and how He wants to transform ME.

Sorry, that was all a mess of thoughts, but your question hits me hard : if God is working in me and leading me to transform my thoughts and actions, why am I still on the sidelines?

And yes - I shared the election post, because I'm tired of all the drama and just want it to be over. And you remind me here, abain, that if we truly want our world to be redeemed, restored to His vision, it's me and you and the community of believers that will make it happen. But I have to start.


Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 1:16 PM
This honest response is very, very powerful. Thank you for adding your truthful voice here. I know exactly what you mean throughout every word of this.
Leanna - October 19th, 2012 at 3:49 PM
Thanks. Here's another barrier for me - even though it shouldn't be. It's the "how much is enough" question. I don't know how to word that better, and I don't mean it with the entitlement/whining it implies. But I don't know what it truly looks like to live in this blessed country and financial situation. I'm not likely to give until I, too, am homeless. I don't know that Gos would even ask that? So again - instead of struggling through the tension and starting something, Anything, I do nothing. I suppose the answer is just trusting that He will guide me. If I truly believe it's all His, He will show me what to do with it.

Now I know the questions I should have posted the other day for the book club. ;)
Kim - October 19th, 2012 at 1:15 PM
Here are my hands. They are yours.

Here is my wallet. Take it.

Here are my powerful prayer words. Direct them.

Here is my comfortable happiness. Ruin it.

Here is my sin. Transform me.

Here is my heart. Break it......

Girl, that is some scary stuff. I want that to be the prayer of my heart, from the depths of my soul...but it scares the ever lovin' tar out of me. Just being honest. I'm praying to get to the point where I can pray that and mean it....really mean it. I want it, I think I want it, I want to be that person who can pray that prayer, but I know what the Lord is going to have to do to me to get me there....and it's not going to be pretty. It must be done, but truth is, I'm a chicken. Bwak, bawk....Oh Lord...please come help this chicken girl be Brave!

Sarah Bessey - October 19th, 2012 at 1:24 PM
You are my heart-friend, and I love you. I love serving our God together, and I love when you get good and angry and all prophetic over here.
Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 2:00 PM
A special dispensation of grace is all...
Emily - October 19th, 2012 at 1:33 PM
This post made me bang my head on my desk....and then weep. And then run to the mirror when I realized I had actually caused a knot on my forehead from banging my head. So be it. Let it serve to remind me. I've been back from Haiti for almost 2 weeks. I was there the week before you. I know we are sisters in Christ...but can we also be best friends? =)
Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 1:59 PM
Ice pack.
TRPL - October 19th, 2012 at 1:38 PM
Hi Jen -
I am pounding my fist on the ground in front of me yelling amen ... the other night I read that post and loved it and i went to your facebook page to look at the shares of the Haiti posts and I saw that the average post was shared 60 or 70 times and the political rant (awesome indeed) was shared about 250 times on facebook alone .... (and my numbers are probably all off but I know you don't give a shit about that .... The point is --- yes, this is grievous. We care so much about the wrong things. To live is Christ to die is gain. I want to die. I want to not run away from what hurts so much to see and face and I want to be honest about how selfish I am and how much I want to curl up and give up and not see or touch any of it.

tara
julie - October 19th, 2012 at 1:41 PM
words and pictures and prayers ARE making a difference. i was so moved by all that came from that week you were with Help One in Haiti. my heart and soul have been torn apart and i am still praying what that means for this little life of mine. this comfortable life in which i have a pulpit and still have no words.

this entire conversation sounds much like my head when i let it be still with the thought of how to respond to the pain and suffering in the world. yet my life is still comfortable. yes there is a mission trip in my future. yes i say i give my life away for Christ. and yet i sit here and wrestle in the midst of the comfort asking to see my part in the response to a broken world.

thank you for a way of re-framing the question that i can wrap my brain around. a question that i still cannot answer, but one that makes a big elephant a little easier to chew...

"what prophetic story am i writing with my life?"

Lord show me the words.
lrc - October 19th, 2012 at 1:46 PM
Thank you for this. And also for your latest political post.
Wendy - October 19th, 2012 at 1:48 PM
Oh, this is all good...the post, the comments, your replies to the comments. Yes, the swell is rising, and the Church is being shaken out of slumber-thanks for being one of the alarm clocks!
Mark - October 19th, 2012 at 1:49 PM
With only a couple men weighing in on these heavy topics I feel a bit like I'm eavesdropping on Ladies Night. Nevertheless, I think I'll do a drive by and drop a small comment off at the curb. My wife recently started sending me some of your blog entries. The first I read was 2 days ago on The Election. Excellently written and with a perspective I think only Jesus could have created in you.

Today's entry is no different. Unfortunately and fortunately - both at the same time - 'justice' has become a buzz word in many churches and Christian communities. But it buzzes around so much that I hope the gravity of it's demand on all humanity, or at very least the people of Yahweh, is not lost in the commotion of being considered 'cool' because one now subscribes to the "movement". You have shown above that justice is super important. So important, I believe, that it's part of the very character of Almighty God.

The Scriptures you quoted show that very well. Equally important, not as a tag-on but as part of an integrated whole, is the Gospel. A Gospel message without love is empty - like a sounding gong or clanging cymbal. Interestingly, the word justice is not mentioned very often in the New Testament like it is in the Old. Instead we hear the word Love over and over and over again. Love fulfills the requirements of the Law and love worked out very often looks like justice. James described true religion as caring for widows and orphans. That is justice and that is love.

Currently I'm working on some video for an organization called Forward Edge International. They tirelessly bring Relief Work AND Good News to places ravaged by disaster and Haiti is one of them. If anyone is looking for a place to start FEI is a good one.

Jen, thanks for being a prophetic voice in a culture bogged down by political correctness and often a desire to be accepted more by men than by God.
Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 1:59 PM
WELCOME, MANFOLK! And thank you for this. "Justice" in Hebrew means "to set right," which is going to require a bunch of us taking a hard look around, declaring: "THIS IS NOT RIGHT."
Rebecca - October 19th, 2012 at 1:50 PM
I am reading this on my lunch as I stuff my face with Taco Bell ...you were on my Google Reader and I had to click over to your site to comment because ....well you have stirred me...provoked me..and called me to worship right in the Taco Bell parking lot. I am sharing this on my blog and anywhere else I can find....Thank you gor a charge of perspective that I needed
Danielle May - October 19th, 2012 at 1:50 PM
Thank you AGAIN and AGAIN! I know I am personally praying thru my feeble attempts to process everything I read thru the Haiti blog posts (and 7 and Kisses from Katie). They have kept me up at night. They consume my mind and my heart and my soul ALL DAY LONG. I want to be THERE. with my hands filthy, my hair a disgusting humid curly mess, sitting cross legged on the dirt, just playing and loving and living with those most amazing souls I have fallen in love with through the blogs. I want to shed it all to the point that all is left is Him, His dreams, His plan, His heart, His grace.

The blogs gave us the reality that media allowed us to ignore and deny. It is still there. That raw need. And God is so there, as He is everywhere, leading us and guiding us to open our eyes and SEE the need, the answer to our innocent "lead me", "guide me", "use me" pleas...and it leaves me wondering how on earth I took a single breath on this earth so selfishly ignoring the needs.

And then I thank Him for you and the other bloggers for bringing us there, opening our eyes, and continuing to encourage us as we try to process it all and see where God moves us. Thank you for taking us. Thank you for the blog. Thank you for 7. My heart and my family have done a 360 from even just 6 months ago...the way we think, the way we see the world, the way we see ourselves and all our mounds of JUNK (which are slowly but surely shrinking and OMG it feels SO GOOD!!!!), the way we love. And I know it is so He can strip us of our worldly fleshy junky selves and use us in the raw form He desires.

You were heard. The need was seen. God is moving.
Rebecca - October 19th, 2012 at 1:52 PM
A couple weeks ago I started a blog to talk a out my journey getting to know Jesus and where He's leading me. The first several posts got around 100 hits. The post on responding to poverty? 19. I know that I'm Nobody, and it's fine if people don't want to read my blog, but the numbers don't lie. However, you are so right about looking at our own hearts. It's so easy to point the finger at others, but what am I doing? Thank you for providing a place where like-minded people can come together and be encouraged to boldly do what Jesus has called us to.
Tiffanie - October 19th, 2012 at 2:01 PM
Your transparency is beautiful! Thank you for this post!
Kate - October 19th, 2012 at 2:04 PM
You said "what do we do..." can you answer that question for us? I don't want to just hear more stories of horrible things I don't know what to do about. Is sponsorship the best option for most of us?
Jen Hatmaker - October 19th, 2012 at 2:33 PM
Kate, sponsorship ABSOLUTELY MATTERS and is a wonderful place to start. I could write for days about this. Paying for a child's school, food, clothes, and housing COUNTS and makes a difference. Truly. I've seen it with my eyes. I would never promote Help One Now if I didn't totally trust them, so on my word, you can sponsor through them knowing every penny is stewarded with integrity: http://www.helponenow.org/monthly-sponsorships/
Kim - October 19th, 2012 at 2:04 PM
Great words, Jen, that I have been hashing out in my mind and my heart for months now. After returning from ET with a little girl, I still find myself wrestling with what to do, where to go, who and how to reach out of myself and serve. And that takes me back to the problem at hand...myself. I am reminded of a quote from (not everyone's favorite...) Stephen Colbert, "If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it."

We just don't want to. (we...collectively...) And that is the reality I find myself revisiting and processing through. Sad, hard truths to admit 1) we grow numb to need. 2) we find a certain level of "entertainment value" (God forgive us!) as we lurk into the lives/work/blogs of those serving and bringing us accounts of lives changed, God working in real and tangible ways and pictures of precious, precious ones...young and old, orphan and widow, sick and healed. But, in our drive through society, our entertainment wanes.

If a tent city/rape camp existed in any of our American cities today, THE OUTCRY WOULD BE DEAFENING. The right to bear arms by our protective citizens would not only be proclaimed but practiced and pictures printed on the front page of papers from sea to shining sea. We would not stand for it a single day. Period. The anger and injustice would move us, but the love for our vulnerable ones would move us faster still. We would face it, fight it and fix it because it is US.

So I ask myself where the disconnect comes in. Why do we not cry out for those dear ones in these hard places? Why do we not step and and serve when God has already proven Himself faithful in our own lives and the journeys He has placed us on? Why do we allow the numbness to not move us when our God's heartbeat leads the way all along?

Is Stephen Colbert right? Do we really just not want to?
tonia - October 19th, 2012 at 2:31 PM
I complete agree with Lisa-Jo AND with Jen. It is a mark of maturity when you put your forehead on the ground and choke through "use me, Lord." But where that is, is His business and we should feel moved toward service.
I lead a Bible study and we are going through the book of Nehemiah and using Kelly Minter at times to help guide our conversation. The biggest issue I keep telling them is that they can mistake serving God for over seas when the poor person in need, the widow who needs encouragement or her children watched, the neglected may be at your work place, next door, sitting next to you in church. Seek First His Kingdom and He will give you a place that will be useful. BUT you also need to be aware of need, not your own comfort. Man I am just rattling on but this is such a passionate issue for me.
We have become a system of programs...show me a video so I can pat myself on the back about how much more I know now. We rarely live out James' admonishment to do the faith in action thang!! Why? Because it is messy and boundary-less and screws with our priorities and comfort. But then we turn around and state we are hungry, we don't see God at work, we want change.
I repeat all the time, I want to be useful to God, I am not interested in another Bible study merely to gain information but for it to PROPEL the gospel forward, bust light into the dark world and care for people...USE ME!
I pray that I am not blind to the work of God. I pray I would lay down me for Him. I pray the Spirit would give me eyes to see, ears to hear and strength to do.
Jen I do believe you ruffle feathers because you are being used to do great things. Please, in the words of our Father, do not grow weary in doing good!
Praying for your continued strength and boldness.
Katie - October 19th, 2012 at 2:39 PM
I didn't comment on either the Haiti post or the political blog, but, just so you know, the number of comments doesn't always truly indicate the reach of your words. My heart has been rebroken, beginning with reading "7" this August, and your blog ever since. The Haiti trip, the mopping of mud...all of this is opening my eyes and breaking through my complacency and I am exactly in the place where you are....forget comparing myself and our "American poor", one income family to all those around me who can afford to buy their children new clothes and shoes for school, and wake up to the fact that my children *are* clothed, housed, fed and safe, the cherished children of two parents. Most mothers in the world cannot say each of those things for all of their children. My *small* house is a mansion compared to tent city. I weary of cleaning it's 1500 square feet, poor me! (sarcasm and eye roll). My eyes fill with tears at the community library...my children have access to literally thousands of books! My stomach churns as I walk through my home, messy and disorganized because I simply have SO MUCH. A personal crisis, indeed.

Believe me, my action is coming. Small actions, maybe. But if each one of us changed, permanately and passionately, and gave 10 small actions, what could be done to this world??

The first action: saving and selling, gathering and giving. Goal: $500 for orphans.
The second action: recycling and making handmaking baby quilts. Goal: 6 quilts by spring for the destitute in the Phillipines.
The third action: requesting money for my birthday instead of gifts. Goal: To buy a goat for a family in need.
The fourth action: ________________ God will direct, and I will keep moving after him.




Keep writing, keep blasting away with the hard stuff, the stuff that we can hardly bear to read, to process.
Kim - October 19th, 2012 at 2:53 PM
We need to look at our money, time, and talents as gifts to us from God to be used to glorify Him. If we honestly open these three areas up to Him, there is no telling what He is going to call us to do. Why is that a scary place? It feels so vulnerable and scary to open ourselves up to God's big plan for our lives, but really, there is no safer place to be. When we follow, HE directs. When we don't follow, we are directing ourselves. I know myself well enough to know that when I am directing, I will choose safety, comfort and ease every time. Look for what God is doing and get behind it with your time, money, and talents. God will use each one of us in big and small ways to bring the gospel to His people.
jessica - October 19th, 2012 at 2:57 PM
Jen,

I must confess I too quickly judge American Christians and thier apparent hypocrisy in the things on which they choose to focus thier time and energy. i was quick to share your post on the election so that my "conservative" friends could stop judging those of us who dont buy into the republican platform. Yet, at the same time, I havent spent enough time reading your posts about Haiti, and the issues that are so much heavier in matter. I didnt share those posts on my facebook page, and for that I am convicted. Its so easy to hate on others for not being concerned about social justice, but if we are being the activists bringing it to forefront or putting time, money, or resources in that direction, are we any better?
Thank you Jen for your honesty and for calling us out. The horrors that are happening in Haiti and all over the world are not to be ignored, especially by Christians. I am going to go back and start reading more about your trip and the ministries and organizations you participated with, so that my family can get involved.
Lindsey - October 19th, 2012 at 2:59 PM
I loved this post. It ran very similarly to the guest post I wrote on (in)courage for chapter 7 of your book. Honestly, if there was one thing that rocked my world and hit home from Seven, this subject was it.

As far as the responses to the two separate posts... the political posts are more like microwave dinners... easy to heat up, chew up and digest. Your posts on Haiti are like a nice steak dinner... something you have to sit, chew for a long time, and savor every bite. It's not a quick one to devour. And remember, as with most nice steak dinners, sometimes the lack of words from the eating party reflect a far better response than if they said anything at all ;)
Sara - October 19th, 2012 at 2:59 PM
I never respond on here because I'm no good at writing like you... But you need to know you are being heard loud and clear in this house. The game changed for me when we went to africa to bring our child home and we can't be the same. It's impossible. And then I went to Haiti. And then I read 7. You are being heard and He is using you for His glory. Thank you for letting Him speak through you and rock my world. Something is brewing, and it's going to be good!
Dawn - October 19th, 2012 at 3:06 PM
Jen - what a wonderful post and wonderful timing. God is working through your words to help transform other's hearts. What a legacy that is! But today I discussed these very thoughts with friends. How we all have something in us that WRECKS us, that makes us sick with the injustice and yet we often run from it rather then doing something because we feel our doing makes no impact. We get caught up in our daily safe lives and know that ignorance really is more "blissful" But lets be honest with ourselves, the Lord is not going to say to us on judgement day - "its ok you didn't know better!" And even if my attempts never do anything I KNOW the Lord will say " good job my sweet daughter, you knew, you allowed yourself to be wrecked, your life to be a mess, and you went for it... now I will finish the job you began"

So when we put our heads in the sand, and choose ignorant bliss, we are really doing our live a disservice! We are telling the world Our God isn't Big enough, we are telling our children that the american dream is more important then lost souls, and on and on... this is not what I want my legacy to be for me or my family or even my friends.... so well written Jen, go after the things that Wreck you!

Prayers for you Jen and your family!
Duane Scott - October 19th, 2012 at 3:07 PM
I'm not a commenter but I needed to stop by today, to tell you something, dear Jen.

I don't come to brag, but to tell people that your stories have changed me. After reading this, I cancelled an unnecessary trip to town because my wallet is no longer my own, but His. And I donated the money I saved to help those children in Haiti.

But then, after I turned my car around not two miles from my house, and after I've donated the money, I still don't feel like I've done enough.

Because the reality is, $100 isn't as big as the fact that I sit typing this on a 20" iMac with my new iPhone 5 sitting on my desk in front of me, and in my backpack at my feet is my MacBook Pro and none of this is okay.

Donating isn't enough, for me. My heart needs to be changed so I am echoing your words today about taking my comfortable life, Lord, and please ruin it.

Thank you, friend, for challenging me with the brutal truth of my life.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:51 AM
I love you. The end.
karen - October 19th, 2012 at 3:24 PM
I am convicted, humbled, challenged... and I am so inspired by the stories written here by people with the heart and the courage to chase after the very heart of God and be His instruments in the broken places. Thank you for crying in the wilderness, and for bidding us all to cry, come, go... too.
EH - October 19th, 2012 at 3:29 PM
Thank you for putting into words what is crying out in my heart. I feel like the pull of the "American Dream" is a siren's call to me, begging for my time and attention and binding me to a world that is passing, blinding my eyes to the true call of my faith. And I long to change all that, to leave it behind and live a life more truly in line with the Jesus in my heart. It's a schizophrenic existence that I'm not sure if I can handle, although some people seem to do it well. I don't know what the change that needs to happen is going to look like yet, but I feel it so strongly that sometimes I can't physically sit still.

My heart is broken, especially for children who are lost, abandoned and hurting. And my heart is broken all over again by the response that you often get when you voice these feelings or put them into action. We took in two children for a year whose father had died and whose mother struggled with addiction. It was clear to us that our family did only what God has plainly told us to do...yet, we struggled with disapproval from people, some of them good Christians whom we love and who genuinely love the Lord, who chastised us for bringing chaos into our home, putting stress on our family, and stretching our resources thin. That our kids were suffering by our attention being divided. They meant well, and from a worldly perspecitve they were right. But I wanted to shout, that love is not divided but multiplied when it's shared, that our resources were finally going where they actually had belonged all the time, that our 'sacrifice' as a family actually brought us more gain than anything else we'd done, that our broken hearts were the only logical reaction to a world so broken and a call so profound by a God who lay his own heart open for each of us. And i've come to the conclusion that until someone's eyes are opened, it does look like chaos and maybe even reckless insanity from the outside. But the world has flipped upside down for me, and I cannot go back to who I was, and the broken heart that God gifted me with fit together much larger and much more open than it was before.

I'm not belittling others who are serving right where they are, and I don't have any concrete idea right now of where God is leading my family. But sometimes I am overwhelmed by the complacency that is so common here, and sometimes I wonder if complacency, from an eternal perspective, might be a more damaging evil to live with than poverty.

Sorry, my words are raw and it's quite possible they don't make all that much sense. I don't mean to offend. But your post spoke right to my heart and right to my place in life right now. It was a gift to find understanding and I want to print your words and read them again and again. Thank you for that.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:51 AM
"Sometimes I wonder if complacency, from an eternal perspective, might be a more damning evil to live with than poverty." THAT WILL PREACH.
Tricia - October 19th, 2012 at 3:39 PM
Thanks for kicking our butts again. A friend and I recently shared on fb a story of how our beloved chocolate is so entangled up with child slavery and trafficking. She begged for people to respond and got nothing....God forgive us. It IS overwhelming and for those of us who are in the middle of the fight for justice, it is exhausting. Thanks for the wake up call - I need it most every day.
Penny - October 19th, 2012 at 3:46 PM
To all my soulful sisters out there...the spirit inside me had caused me to cry....and cry...and cry! I try to do as much in my own little world to minister tote needs of others but it doesn't feel like enough! All I can say is I am ashamed when I look back at opportunities to serve and chose "my own desires" when the spirit was shouting "go this way". I pay we all become better listeners and doers. So love all of you soul sisters!
Heather W. - October 19th, 2012 at 4:07 PM
Keep it up Jen! I get both sides of the equation with Lisa-Jo and what you have written. I think quite actually they are the same cry. The message is more targeted toward the silent majority that is not serving anywhere, but keeping the pews warm? And for many they are locked in willful ignorance, or caught in the trappings of societies scream for the material riches, or there are those who are sitting there in fear.
I know God is calling me to speak to the ones sitting in fear. God is so able to do anything He wants with us, we just need to be willing to answer the calls he puts before each of us. I went to Africa a year ago with another Momma and some teens. We were scared, (I pretended I wasn't, and clung to scriptures, but my hubby knew I have the great propensity for imagining the "what ifs".) but knew God was calling us to go. It was amazing, heart wrecking, turned my world upside down. I couldn't process the US culture very well upon my return. I grew angry and frustrated with the people, Christians, who did not really want to hear about Africa. They whined about how rough they were having it. And yes its rough here for people too, but how do you help people to grasp the crazy differences we have here?
I loved you mentioning the "middle of the pack" notion so many of us cling to here. We are rich in this country. I guess for some, until they come face to face with the smells, the pain, the dirt, the poverty, rape, disease, that is so consistent in developing countries or even in our hidden alleys and bridge-ways in our cities. Ack... I am sorry, you know all this. I just want to say I am praising God for your boldness to speak. All summer long the Lord has hammered me with the prophets. Those verses you posted. I prayed and prayed through out the year and the Lord did give me something. With our teen group we designed an experiential tour that takes people through the experiences of water issues, food shortages/famines, being trafficked and persecution. As the people came out, there were a few phrases we heard over and over... "I didn't know. I just didn't know it was that bad." or "It's awful! I didn't know." "Why aren't we doing something about this?!"
I am grateful that some had moments of awakening. Now it's time to keep leading them forward. I am praying that more and more of His body (the church) will awaken to His call to be his hands and feet. To not just go to church, but really be the church. Keep banging the drum, keep pointing in love the areas for them to start journeying, and let's go storm the gates. And if you are already plugged in and serving where you are at, then awesome!
We cannot afford to ignore Christ's call to the poor, the orphans, the widows, the persecuted and broken. Love God, Love people....Ahhh I will shut-up! Oh goodness!
Just know, you are not alone. Thank you for speaking up. You brought some sanity to my life because you spoke out in Seven. Thank you!
Grace Elizabeth - October 19th, 2012 at 4:43 PM
Wow. This is incredible. More than food for thought, hard hard hard.
idelette - October 19th, 2012 at 4:46 PM
Thank you, Jen! Kind of an ouch, hallelujah ... And I love the manifesto/prayer. Let it be so.
Brianna - October 19th, 2012 at 4:58 PM
Hi Jen!

I just met you a few weeks ago (Bianca's friend), and the political post happened to be the first one I read of yours--and yes, I did repost. :) Anyway, now that I have found your blog I am so incredibly happy I did and even more grateful that I got to briefly meet the person behind such powerful, moving, and true words. This second post I read of yours is so dead on and incredibly transparent. I know at the very least, what I can do today is click on your link provided to start sponsoring a child because I trust your recommendation of them, and this can be my first tiny step with bigger steps to follow.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:45 AM
THANK YOU, Brianna! And that is no small thing. Sponsorship matters. I've seen it with my eyes. Bless you.
Katrina - October 19th, 2012 at 5:04 PM
I recently, reluctantly posted a plea to support an orphan for a year's schooling in the Philippines at $500. I was reluctant because I DREADED having to remind, cajole, and guilt-trip my readers since, really, most of them show up to read about real food and just humor my advocacy "stuff." I always feel like I'm bugging them. I get as irritated as you've expressed when the "Pantry Makeover" post gets hundreds of likes while "Help the Poor" earns a few limp and scanty thumbs-ups. UGHH!! Nonetheless, I also have confessed that I HATE that Casting Crowns lyric, "if we are the body why aren't His arms reaching? Why aren't His hands healing? Why aren't His words teaching? And if we are the body, why aren't His feet going? Why is His love not showing them there is a way?" The reason I hate it is because WE ARE! We ARE! We can do better, but we are growing, we are giving. We ARE Christ's body together and in our mutual encouragement, we need to be prepared, as you have done so well, to say, "Okay, girl. That's enough cozy, inspirational coffee hour. Let's get off our arses here and go be Jesus' body here on Earth." Be encouraged, Jen! We are a broken, broken body in need of healing, but I believe we are on are way to shaking off this complacency and idolatry of self, which freezes us in this ineffectual paralyzed faith. Speaking of which, my readers totally shamed my disbelief in them. In 20 hours, the sweet Kindergarten orphan boy was fully funded for a year of school. :) It blessed and broke my heart.
Megan - October 19th, 2012 at 8:05 PM
loved this! that song bugs me too!
Jaime - October 19th, 2012 at 5:20 PM
Hi Jen,
Your heart and passion inspire me. I've been wresting with all of this on such a deep heartfelt level. Here's where I'm at and I'm wondering what you think. I guess I like to think that people get so passionate about political subject matters because we are fighting for about our liberties so that we can continue to fight passionately for the oppressed and extend our freedoms outward; rather than hording them for our pleasure. Honestly, that's why I care so much about this election and the future of our government. We are in the process of adopting an orphan with special needs, we are getting to meet him for the first time in less than 10 days and I am over the moon with joy! We've had difficulty in the process and it's taken a year and half to get to our first travel date. I share all this to say...I often ponder and marvel at the responsibility I have because of the abundant blessings I have. Our liberties are mean to be spilled out~ in worship, for the sake of the poor, oppressed and orphaned. I want our country to prosper. Not so that I can sit fat and happy. So that I can rush the men, women and children and serve them with the luxury and rights I enjoy in my life. Being an American, with all the "rights" and "luxuries" helps me extend my hands further outward. All that said, my faith is in Jesus and no. matter. what. I know that. I hope what I've written makes sense, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Megan - October 19th, 2012 at 9:14 PM
I resonate with this. Jen,I think you have an amazing heart for the Lord and for people. I am challenged by your passion for the poor and your willingness to go and DO something about it. I truly mean that.

BUT, I feel like you are saying that passion for politics and passion for the poor have to be mutually exclusive and I just think that is so short-sighted. You're throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak. The system of government that we live under which has afforded us so many luxuries is the very same system that makes it possible for us to give and serve around the world. Our political system, as flawed as the people are within it, is the very pipeline through which we are able to carry out the works that we feel so strongly called to as Christians.

I see my passion for politics as a way I am able to function within my role within the body of Christ. I want to be one of the ones fighting for the rights of my brothers and sisters to preach, to counsel outside of abortion clinics, to use our wealth to bless hurting people in places such as Haiti.

I hope what I'm saying makes sense. I totally understand the frustration with the greed that we so easily fall prey to in this country. We take for granted the liberty we've been given and assume its for our own comfort. But that doesn't mean that the answer is to throw up our hands with the process and assume that people that remain engaged in it are worldly and not concerned with the important stuff.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:49 AM
I understand what you are both saying, and thank you for commenting. I too am thankful for our liberties and don't take our freedoms lightly, ever aware of the instability and danger elsewhere for lack of democracy. And as always, I WILL ABSOLUTELY VOTE and am grateful to do so. And if God moves you to engage politics on a deeper level, then may His kingdom come in that way through you.
lynda mote - October 19th, 2012 at 5:33 PM
Have been prayin for some heart/like minded folks for some time now. After reading some of these responses from Jens post I think I found them:) Just wish we all lived in the same city and could meet up somewhere and just GO crazy. Jen, keep inspiring us with your raw honest gut wrenchin appeals to LOVE like Jesus. Love u and ur heart and ur just dang funny. I like ur serious side too!
Melody Burroughs Reid - October 19th, 2012 at 7:58 PM
Jen, I love you. You say out loud words that I only think in my head. Preach it!

Painted Maypole - October 19th, 2012 at 9:08 PM
oh, i struggle with my first world problems, and know that the injustices I feel are so insignificant. we need constant reminders. constant prayer. constant faith.
Kelly - October 19th, 2012 at 9:18 PM
I feel your pain. When I post something on Facebook that I believe speaks of justice, redemption, generosity, etc. I get almost zero response. But then I post on Facebook that I cannot find any chip clips in my house, and I get a blizzard of "likes" and comments commiserating with me about 1st world problems. It can be very discouraging. But, you are making a bigger difference than you or anyone else realizes. Remember that God only calls us to be faithful--he does not hold us responsible for the results. And I think God and his angels are applauding you in heaven for standing in the gap for the least of these.
Jessica Bridges - October 19th, 2012 at 9:19 PM
My husband and I just sat and read your post together and I just wanted to encourage you to keep on writing. Sure many will condemn you and try to silence your voice. They will throw accusations and insults trying to hinder your drive, but write. Write because so many of us are hearing the Lord call us forth. We are being awakened by the cries of the orphan, the pain of the widow. Our slumber is ending. Write! The things the Lord says through you register in my heart, they speak to a place that the enemy has tried to comatose with luxury and convenience, comfort and mundane. Thank you Jenn for always emptying yourself.
Camille - October 19th, 2012 at 9:37 PM
Hi Jen. I met (okay, and maybe stalked a little and seriously hugged) you at the dotMom conference a while back, and after hearing you speak, I get to read all your posts with your voice in my head. Cool.

I read that Life of Pi quote, and this English-teacher nerd thought....YES! This is gonna be good, y'all. This post makes me angry at the blustering folks I know who will tell the poor to "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" even when they have never had boots to begin with, and then will donate thousands to the organ restoration fund. (Blech. NOT a fan of the organ.)

Simultaneously, this post makes me disappointed in myself and all the areas where I am still ruled by materialism and a commitment to my own comfort. It makes me angry at all the ways I justify this or that and ignore the suffering of so many.

But as always, your words also remind me that if I continue to give my life to God, he will continue to transform it into something He can use. Slowly, ever so slowly, my husband and I have started to truly open different parts of ourselves to God and His purposes, and our lives look largely different from two years ago. Your words have been a part of that, so thank you for being a truth-speaker. We're the caretakers of two young men now that needed a family, and we just finished PATH classes so as to adopt some more kiddos from foster care. Life is messy and exhausting, but beautiful. And as you have said, God doesn't make disciples through comfort and ease. For the first time, I'm beginning to understand what it means to be "called by the Spirit," and it's kind of awesome. Terrifying, but awesome. Because when you say, "God, take the empty rooms in my house. They're yours"....the Guy takes you seriously and before long your house smells like dirty gym socks and the fridge is always empty. It's about looking at our lives and in every aspect saying, "How can I serve God and His people with this?"

I may not make it to Haiti anytime soon, but I'm praying God will show me how to continue to open my life to serve as many as I can in my here and now. Thank you for all the inspiration, encouragement, and ideas as to how to get out there and DO something. (We do already sponsor a child in Peru and another in Mexico. The Peruvian is named Elvis, and we're in Memphis, so how perfect is that?) Plus, your posts annoy the crap out of my brother-in-law (who works for an SUPER-conservative organization that shall remain unnamed), and any chance to annoy him is icing. ;-)

Hannah - October 20th, 2012 at 7:50 PM
Ha Ha..her posts annoy my ultra conservative brothers too! I love it!
debby - October 19th, 2012 at 9:50 PM
Dear Jen, okay, I'm commenting,even though I have to type on this stupid kindle. I found your blog a while ago, LOVED it, bought your book 7,told everyone about you,quoted you everywhere. LOVED your basement manifestos--thank God, there are real Christians who think like I do. Then it seemed like you never posted after I found your blog! Finally one day I checked and YOU WERE IN HAITI!!! I cried through all your posts. I'm still crying over the little girl mopping the dirt. You see, me and my friend have started a child sponsorship program for a little village in Haiti, and we will be making our first visit there in January. You provided a view of Haiti we had not been able to get from the men in our church who had visited there. So thank you.

I did also love your view of the political scene ...



Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:43 AM
PROUD OF YOU!!!
Kathy B - October 19th, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Yes, we read and we are changed. I respond to very few blog posts, not because I don't care, but because I am speechless. I read all 6 of your October blogs this evening, so I am undone. But the thought that your election blog drew so many comments, and your Haiti blogs so few breaks my heart. I sit here with my healthy family home together (our oldest is home from college for the weekend!) - and I grieve for mothers in Haiti who cannot feed their children, or clothe them and protect them. I am questioning all of my priorities, and praying that I will not walk away unchanged. Praying that I will follow God's call, even though I don't know where to begin! Thank you for writing from your heart.
Terri - October 19th, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Read 7 six months ago. Doing 7 with 5 of my sisters. The baby sister of us all (33) has been so moved she is adopting 2 boys from Ethiopia (in 2 years) and one daughter from the Congo (in 5 months) and she has two boys under 8. Here in my life - I am on my knees waiting to see what action God has for my household and praying for my husband to come along side. Jen, you are making such a difference! Keep waking us up! Keep making us uncomfortable! We hear you...
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:42 AM
UGH. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
Shaela - October 19th, 2012 at 10:41 PM
First time commenter, long time reader. ;). Jen I feel like you and I are "bosom buddies" to quote Anne of Green Gables. However I realize that the relationship is very one sided. But I talk about you often and thank God for your heart and prophetic words! In each post from the blog team I sat and tried to figure out what to say in response. From my bed. On my iPhone. I just couldn't respond. But I was kept up at night, multiple nights. Reading stories. Praying. Crying. And the following day I talked to multiple people about orphans and Haiti and women's rights and our responsibility as the Church to do something. I am still talking about it. I don't think it is a coincidence that I was reading about your 6th month (spending... As if you didn't know) in 7. I am making conscious changes in my spending. I am called to go. I have been for a while. That time is coming but it's not here yet. Your posts, along with the other bloggers from the team, 7 and Half the Sky have all been reminders that in this season of waiting to go, I can still be used!!! Both by serving and loving here in Dallas and by making choices that help in even a small way.

PS. I shared your political piece on FB but those whom I talk to face to face and heart to heart know about your Haiti blogs. We have cried together about Haiti.

PSS. I am planning a trip to Austin soon. I will be there on a Sunday and I would love to visit Austin New Church. So if a random curly haired blonde girl comes up to you babbling about bosom buddies, it's me. ;)
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:42 AM
Yes. Thank you, Shaela. Thank you for reminding that God is moving and changing us and that sometimes silence is because we are speechless. Love to you, sister.
Amy - October 19th, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Thank you using your gift if writing to speak so honestly! We have a group of 10-65 year olds boarding a plane to Haiti right now and I wish I was there. My husband came back from leading a trip a year ago and had a hard time expressing the beauty and need he saw there...his dad was ready to adopt a whole family. I have been wrecked lately by reading so many books and the Bible and realizing how messed up our Christian culture can be...and my husband is a youth pastor! Our challenge now is how can we change and help those younger than us see Christianity as loving the widows, orphans and poor! God is using your writing to open the eyes and hearts of many, including me, thanks and keep it up!
Diana Trautwein - October 20th, 2012 at 1:12 AM
Holy crap, woman! You haven't just stirred the honey pot, you've stirred the dang HIVE. Wowza. Good, strong, prophetic words. And LISA-JO - wonderful response from your great big beautiful heart. You are both on target - we need always to be relinquishing - opening our hands/hearts/ wallets/ideas/calendar/time/energy. And we need to think and act sacrificially whenever and wherever we can. We ALSO need to accept the truth that we are here, we are not there. And some of us will never have the opportunity to be there - that's a fact. BUT we are HERE - wherever and everywhere that all of the 'we's' who read and respond to this good word happen to find ourselves. We can be sure that we are where we are for a reason - that God has us here for good purposes. So let's be open to what those might be. It will look different for each one of us - but Good God in Heaven, may it look like Jesus! Thank you for the challenge, thank you for the example, thank you for speaking from your heart and from that prophetic gut of yours, It's not an easy call, to be a prophet, so God bless you richly in the midst of your clarion call to the rest of us. Amazing.
Sandra Heska King - October 23rd, 2012 at 3:30 PM
Yes, what she said.

Surrender and sacrifice in whatever space He's placed us for such a time as this. But this face-to-face experience, whether in real life or virtually, can't help but totally rearrange our innards. It's stirring stuff up in me, and I don't know what's taken so long. Maybe some of us just have to simmer longer.
Laura - October 20th, 2012 at 4:09 AM
Thank you for this post. I so enjoy reading what you write. Thank you for passing along the things that God is sharing with you. If there is a waiting list for people who want to buy you a margarita, put me on it!
Christina VP - October 20th, 2012 at 9:13 AM
The words you have penned are part of what moved me to agree with my husband to move our family to Haiti a month ago. In the months before we left it became increasingly difficult for me to stomach the adds and fb rants about political matters, knowing the time and $$$ being spent (wasted) on meaningless political banter. Money even Christians seemed to think better poured into a 60 second blip of blithering idiocy on prime time TV than into the life of some suffering image-bearer.
I also became more and more aware of my own hypocrisy as for weeks I packed boxes of "stuff"and made endless trips to the thrift store to rid my life of all the things I "needed" to live comfortably in America. I am now burdened by the thought of 40 boxes arriving to my Haiti home some time in the next few weeks. Lord have mercy on my soul!
Thank you for speaking truth, Jen. No matter where we are in the Lord's kingdom, your challenge is relevant. Thanks for looking at yourself and allowing us to do the same.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:39 AM
Oh Christina...SO MUCH LOVE to you and your family in your new life in Haiti. I affirm this so much. May God's kingdom come in that precious place through your lives. Count on my prayers.
Alysa - October 20th, 2012 at 11:07 AM
I've been struggling with this in two ways since reading "7" and going to Ethiopia with the FH Bloggers.

One, since having my eyes seriously opened I've struggled with the fact that not everyone has had that experience. Part of me wants to scream into a crowd, "Why don't you care?" When I write about things like child sponsorship or human trafficking, I hear nothing in response except maybe a "good for you" which was never the point. I start to doubt myself, feeling unworthy of this call and unsure of where to go from here.

But then, a text from a friend, a photo of their kids reading a letter from a child they sponsored. A thank you for opening their eyes. And another, a question from someone I had no idea read my blog, asking for more information about FH. And when they ask, I gush. Because I was able to see it with my own eyes, I can tell them about all of the work FH is doing and why it is so important. I know that makes a difference. Small, steady, not always seeing the fruit, but important.

And two, the biggest struggle, is with my own apathy. I completely echo your laments. The week after coming home from Ethiopia, I stood at my sink bawling as I washed dishes. Heartbroken over the clean water coming out of the sink. Muddy feet and stained clothes fresh in my mind. But oh, how quickly those memories faded. How fast I returned to normal busy life. This frustrates me!

The selflessness we seek does not come naturally. We have to search for it, get down on our knees and beg for it. Every day. Sometimes every hour. And so I pray.

And I thank you for so eloquently screaming my heart from the rooftops. Even when you don't see the fruit, I hope you know it's there in abundance.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:38 AM
Thank you, Alysa. "The selflessness we seek does not come naturally. We have to search for it, get down on our knees and beg for it. Every day." AMEN. Profound.
Brooke - October 20th, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I have been an avid blog reader for years now, and have recently started following you -- this is the very first time I have ever left a comment on any blog. I am an observer, an outsider who reads blogs late at night and wakes with puffy eyes from crying, but I do not react because I am not Christian enough, rich enough, or brave enough to act.
After reading your blog, and learning more about Help One Now, I am honored to say my family is now sponsoring the beautiful and brave Wislinia Phillippe. She is the same age as my daughter. As I stood in my daughter's door way weeping as I watched her peacefully sleep last night on her over priced bedding, sweating off a fever I had just given her medicine for. I was brought to my knees as I truly imagined the fear of not being able take away my child's pain, hunger, or fear.
Thank you for sharing with us. Thank you for reminding me that I do not have to shut down because I cannot save everyone. Sometimes one is enough, and gives us the confidence to move forward so pretty soon those all those ones will add up.

Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:36 AM
Oh, Brooke. Amen. Thank you, sweet sister. Thank you for everything in this comment. And hallelujah for Wislinia Phillippe...she is not forgotten. You are so dear.
Katie Gonzalez - October 20th, 2012 at 7:38 PM
Jen, Lisa-Jo, and all the other broken hearts, I love that we are all in the same mess. We all are afraid we are the one not doing enough. And often we don't. And often we do. I do know many who would profess the label Christian but don't practice it. Those are the ones I am so sad for. They are the ones who would not have read past the first sentence of this blog post. They do not see and they miss so much.

But, as one who reads them all and at times weeps at my own inabilities and my own sinful heart, I often cannot comment on the ones that make me weep the most. It is easy, or should I say safe, to comment on an election rather than a starving child. My conviction that I'm falling short for that child often keeps me silent for fear of hypocrisy. So please Jen, do not feel that your posts fall on deaf ears, but rather that we finish reading the words God is speaking through you and fall to our knees asking God what we should do.

We are at the beginning of our 3rd adoption to bring children #5 and 6 into our family. We had wavered between a foster child adoption (as are the other 4 in our family) or international; and if international what country. Suddenly there was your trip to Haiti. The faces were there in front of me. Suddenly the agency says, "you qualify for Haiti or Ethiopia". So I know God is telling us what to do. And I for one am terrified of the journey (emotional, financial, etc) we are embarking on but could not be more sure it is the right one.

A few months back I read "Kisses from Kate". It spoke to my heart and I fell to my knees to ask what I should do. Then my husband announced his desire to go to Seminary at age 40 (he starts in January). He's not sure what God is calling him to do, probably not lead a church. Run a children's home? Move to another country and start an orphanage? Be an advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves? Taking care of orphans but in what capacity? And what would be my role? There is no separating yourself from your husband's job when he's a pastor. Again, this journey both terrifies and excites me.

So from one whose words often fall short of responding to the things that touch the deepest to one who writes the hard things of God, thank you.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:35 AM
Crying. Moved. All God's strength and endurance to you as you embark on this next adoption. Thank you for this major encouragement. XOXO
Gianna - October 20th, 2012 at 7:54 PM
Jen, you spoke of Abortion in your last post. And the need to be active in being real and reaching out to love on those considering it and walking with them in their lives and now just condemning them and refusing to let them talk. Supporting them before AND after this HUGE decision.

I am so pro-life it isn't even funny, but I agree with you that if we had first decided to love these mothers in real life instead of scaring them before they make the worst decision of their lives, their lives would be so much more changed.

So while I understand that you feel like you weren't defending the orphans and widows in your last post, I would like to disagree.
I can't even imagine what you experienced in Haiti. My heart stopped for a moment and tears were welling up in my eyes.
But know your efforts in your last post weren't fluff.

But I totally agree about American Chrisitans suffering.
HA! What a joke. We don't even know the meaning.
We will be checking out Help One Now and figuring out who we can sponsor.

Thank you!
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:34 AM
Thank you, Gianna. I appreciate everything about this comment. ESPECIALLY the sponsorship part!! Love. Thank you.
Kim - October 20th, 2012 at 9:08 PM
Jen, I know your posts and every post written by every blog on your tour (I did indeed read them all) were used of God in my life. I wrote on it here: http://confessionsofasupermomwannabe.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-heart-is-already-breaking.html

I don't know how to articulate the work God is doing in my heart, but I know he is doing a major work and so I thank you for taking the tour, sharing their stories and your heart and allowing God to minister to me deeply through your words. Blessings!
Nikki Roller - October 21st, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Some good resources for learning more about injustice and get some more ideas about how to direct those God-given passions for the poor, marginalized, victimized, etc...that I've come across are: Good News about Injustice (Gary Haugen), The God of Intimacy and Action (Tony Compolo and Mary Darling), Faith and Violence (Thomas Merton), Love in a Fearful Land (Henri Nouwen), and Globalization, Spirituality and Justice (Daniel Groody). Not that having your nose stuck in books is the ultimate answer, but better understanding and some direction help!!
Jesika - October 21st, 2012 at 7:37 PM
There is this terrible cycle I've been caught in for years. Living comfortably, caught up in the business of my own life and then BAM! Hit like a ton of bricks. Poverty. Rape. Orphans.Trafficking. And my heart breaks and I cry for days and I volunteer or sponsor a child or find some other act to pacify my feelings and then...slowly but surely...I move on.

I often feel justified in having already adopted, sponsoring a child in Africa, teaching in Kids' Church and homeschooling. I'm just so busy. And my heart hardens again. And then, as I'm seeking more of God, BAM! It happens again.

But, I think your Haiti posts may have broken me for good. I can't do the cycle anymore. I refuse to. I realize this is not a wave to ride. This is TRUE religion. This is not about my acts, this is about my deep love for Jesus Christ and His beautiful grace and how that should inspire change. Empty me of everything that's not like You God. I will die every single day to my flesh.

I was silenced by your posts-but very much changed. I stayed up late with my husband as we dreamed dreams of selling our belongings and moving to Haiti (as opposed to when we used to stay up late dreaming about how we'd build the perfect home and how many cars we'd buy if we ever got rich!) And we woke up the next morning and signed up to start the foster parent process...because while we're here in the midst of our great privilege we need to do something. We need to pour out all this love and grace and mercy. This feeling is not the same as it used to be. This is the start of a new life full of abandoning all my plans, shutting my mouth every time I start to speak an excuse and refusing to be content with the fact that if I'm being honest, at this point in time, if Christ were living here on earth, our lives would probably look nothing alike.

No more cycles for me. I saw Jesus in the posts about Haiti and fell more in love with him than ever before and there's no turning back for me now. Thank you for your obedience to Him.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:33 AM
Jesika, I am speechless at this. So proud to be your sister.
Robert - October 21st, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Jen,

Thank you for these powerful words and for your prophetic witness. I've long been grateful for the realization that "prophesy" is much more about truth-telling than it is about foretelling, because I, for one, need to hear that truth- over and over and over again. I'm a native Texan, and when I tell my story I talk about the fact that when I finally got out (of Texas) at 18 (I had to; my family of origin was "Christian," but also very abusive) and went away to a small "Christian" liberal arts college in New England, I was shocked to discover that "God is not a white, anglo-saxon Protestant (male) who lives in the 'burbs, shops at the mall, and spends the rest of his time pursuing the American dream like everybody else." I had the privilege while in college of doing a program then known as Kingdomworks (it morphed some time ago into Mission Year). During my Kingdomworks summer I lived in an inner-city church (building) in Philly with a bunch of other college students, where we ran a day camp, Sunday school, and youth group, hoping to empower that congregation to reach its neighborhood through the kids in ways they couldn't otherwise. I heard shortly after completing my summer, and have known well ever since, that while whatever we did for those kids that summer was well and good in its own right, the point of it all was as much about reaching me as it was about reaching them. I'm glad, sort of, to say that it worked, sort of, and therein lies (part of) my problem. More about that perhaps later, but suffice it to say I've spent the better part of the past 17 years (wow! 17 years!) trying to recreate that experience.

Again, when I tell my story I talk about the fact that it was during that summer that I was able to build a bridge (and no, I didn't really build that) between my own personal suffering and the suffering that's out there- in the world. That bridge compelled me to traverse it, to go over it again and again and again, hoping to do something, to reach somebody, to touch somebody, to make a difference in some way come hell or high water. Later on, I was shocked and utterly distressed to find that this "bridge" could be traveled in both directions, that it was possible for my encounter with the suffering other to take me right back to my own personal suffering in ways that were near (and remain so to this day) debilitating. That doesn't free of my 1%er status, my white male USAmerican privilege and all the responsibilities that pertain thereto, but it makes it damn hard to get out of my own way long enough to be of any good to anyone else.

Along the way, I got married and had kids and have settled into a modest house in a working-class 'burb (can you hear the apology? the guilt?) where I spend my days in a charter school working with ADHD and Asperger's kids. I've got massive debt thanks to the mortgage and the credit cards and the mortgage-sized student loans courtesy of a short-circuited seminary excursion and a few semesters afterwards as first an MSW student and then a Master's in Counseling student. Now, we struggle to pay all the bills and raise our seven and one year old boys and deal with opposite work schedules and the like, all the while pining for more- not more stuff (though awfully we probably pine for that too)- but more...more. More community, more purpose (Rick Warren, go away. I'm not talking about or to you;), more sacrifice and tears and love and life and reasons to get up in the morning. We lived in Philly for a while and "knew" Shane Claiborne before he was SHANE CLAIBORNE!!!!!!! We love The Simple Way and Rutba House and all the communities like them, and we were even part of our own little "intentional Christian community" for a little while before it blew up in our faces, perhaps because of our application of a lit match to the large stick of relational dynamite we were all sitting in. We know that the Church is a people, not a place and that following Jesus and taking up our crosses means willfully choosing the instrument of our own death. Yet we stubbornly refuse to do it. We take two steps forward and then eighteen steps back. We make risky, bold faithful moves and then run away with our tail between our legs as soon as we get inevitably hurt in the process. We know that the life we long for, that Jesus calls us to, is one decidedly different from the American dream, that Jesus' dream looks like nothing like it, and we know; we know, we know, we know, we know, that this life of radical discipleship we were made for is so utterly hard in this rich white, USAmerican context that we can not hope to succeed in even small ways if we undertake it alone. So we long- still- for community, for co-conspirators, but we have struggled mightily to find them where we live now in Northeast Ohio, and it's taken a big swig of humility and almost-trust to believe that if it really is God behind all this somehow, then surely he must be at work in somebody other than us, right? Surely the community we're called to participate in- one that is willing to take risks to help one another love and serve our neighbors both right in front of us and around the world- surely such a community is one that God is already creating, that already exists in some fashion, right? RIGHT?!

I know I can't blame others for my failure to follow Jesus the way I know I should, and I certainly don't want to. Yet as I think you may well know, "opting out" of the American dream is hard. It takes partners. More than anything, perhaps, it takes imagination and courage, and I find myself in short supply of both. As it stands, I feel utterly trapped. Trapped in a way of life that perpetuates the consumer machine. Trapped in the jobs necessary to pay the bills. Trapped in my own short-circuited (lack of) faith. It really is a lack these days. I have friends who have stopped following Jesus for lots of REALLY good reasons, and every day I'm tempted to join them. Some of them have quit because of a lack of belief in God, and I get that; I really, really do. In fact, I almost envy them. I'd love to just give up, to look at all the problems in the Bible and in the world and finally throw in the towel. But I can't. I can't because quite simply I'm too angry. I can't claim disbelief in someone who makes me SO. COMPLETELY. LIVID. I'm mad at God for what happened to me and my family when I was a kid. I'm mad because of my mother's abuse and my father's allowing it to happen because "the Bible said" he couldn't get divorced. I'm mad because of the kids dying on the streets of Philadelphia and in Haiti and everyplace in between. I'm mad because all this anger once fueled me to overachieve, to get good grades and be a better friend and worker and "church"goer and the like, and I'm mad because I've been mad so long that I'm worn out. I'm tired of being mad. I'm tired of trying to make a difference and failing. No, scratch that. I'm tired of trying to try to make a difference and then quitting when I lack the imagination or courage or community or resources to actually do it. C.S. Lewis wrote something along the lines of, I think in The Screwtape Letters, that the real danger to the devil wasn't those who followed Jesus (I'm paraphrasing) because they believed; rather it was those couldn't quite believe anymore (again, paraphrasing) and yet followed/obeyed anyway. That brings some small comfort, but I don't know how long I can go on like this, struggling to think about trying to follow despite all the pain and anger and good reasons not to rattling around in my head, heart, and soul. I'd love to give away seven things a day for a month and reduce our clothes and consumption and carbon footprint and everything else. More than that, I'd love for my life to matter, for it to be "burned up in a holy flame" in the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel, but again, I feel so utterly stuck, lost, faithless, and (aside from my wife and kids) alone. A wise pastor, responding to inklings of all this in me many years ago, said that it's better to do something, anything, and perhaps fail spectacularly, trusting God to work it all out, than to be mired in inaction because of fear of making a mistake. I'd like to think though that I'm not afraid of making a mistake anymore. Perhaps I'm afraid of succeeding. I'm afraid that the bills and job and house and the rest will keep me from living the life I'm called to. In any case, I find your story and the life you're struggling to live inspiring and prophetic. I wish there were more folks like you and yours around here.

Sorry for the rant.
Jen Hatmaker - October 22nd, 2012 at 7:32 AM
Robert, I want to tell you that I identify so much with this tension, and I thank you for writing it out so clearly. I believe you have exactly identified the reasons why the camel cannot fit through the eye of the needle. Brother, I am stopping to pray for you this morning. And for me. And for all of us who want to live a holy, meaningful life but have come to understand the cost. Love to you.
Michelle - October 25th, 2012 at 12:58 PM
This.
I can identify with.
Praying for both of us.
Mandy C - October 29th, 2012 at 8:15 PM
Hey, just wanted to say that we are in Northeast Ohio too and have found a community, a church that continues to amaze us......I don't know where you are but we are in Canton.....our church is called LoveCanton. It might be what you are looking for.........just a bunch of people who love Jesus and are trying to figure out how to translate that to the people around us, in BIG and small ways.
Amanda - October 22nd, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Jen, For the past week I've cried, laughed, felt sick, rejoiced, been angry, yet so filled with joy that I could burst. I've tried to put into words all that I would like to say to the bloggers who accompanied Help One Now. Thank you is a good beginning. For a year now Haiti has held a most special place in my heart. God called my husband and me (me, kicking and screaming) to adopt from Haiti. Until then Haiti only crossed my mind when it was mentioned in the news. Over the year I've realized, though, that God called us to Haiti for many more reasons than just the twin boys He has lead us to. So I decided quickly that it may be a while before I can get there and get my hands on my babies but there is still so much to do. Our orphanage (Three Angels Children's Relief) has a jewelry making opportunity for women who need financial support to provide for their families. I've been able to sell that jewelry to help them and to help fund our adoption. They also have a school with sponsorship programs for their students, and sponsorship programs for their orphans that I can advocate for. Many of my friends will be going down this summer to help out at Three Angels.
The bloggers were such an encouragement to me to keep doing what I can, but at the same time I read things that I never wanted to imagine. Over the next year I will be in Haiti quite a bit and the roller coaster of emotions still fill my heart as to what I will encounter, but one thing's for sure, like many of the bloggers said, I will see Jesus there and that alone humbles me to no end that He has seen fit to call undeserving me to see Him face to face.
Jenny Hofmann - October 22nd, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Amanda- I am sitting here in absolute awe. You must be adopting K and K ( I won't use their full names for obvious reasons)- my husband and I were originally matched with them- but for various reasons- we felt led to call and let Three Angels know that we weren't sure- that day I called and said- "we're not sure" was so horrible and I had the worst pit in my stomach making that call- about who would then raise these boys- and yet my husband and I prayed with such fervent hearts over what we should do and we truly felt God saying- these are NOT your sons- when I called- Leah almost laughed and stated how good God was..come again? I just told you we aren't sure- and she just shared there was a family that came and felt led to adopt the boys and that she had been agonizing over contacting us thinking you were the better fit. And now- here I am checking Jen Hatmaker's blog- which I rarely do (sorry, Jen)- and I see this. I never thought I would know what happened to the boys. All I can say is Praise God. I am in absolute awe right now!! Wowza. If you blog, I would so love to follow...

Amanda - October 25th, 2012 at 1:16 PM
Jenny - I am in awe as well. I replied a few days ago but I don't think it will post because I added my email address. All the paperwork is not "official" just yet but it should be soon. I've prayed for you and your family numerous times. We've praised God for your obedience, which changed our lives. It was amazing to hear from you. Only God could have done that.
Jenny - October 25th, 2012 at 2:16 PM
Thank you so much for this reply- I have been checking- I worried maybe I scared you! :) Yes- God is amazing- we had a women's ministry meeting the other day and I shared this connection and everyone had goose bumps for sure! I can not believe we connected this way. I have also prayed for you and still pray for the boys regularly and enjoy seeing their pictures. Knowing they were going to be adopted by believers was one of the best gifts we have ever received. And then to get a glimpse of who you and your heart for Haiti and for Jesus was an amazing gift. ONLY God could have done this- Amen to that. I will continue to pray for you, for Three Angels, and all those little ones (and their mommies and their daddies) in Haiti. God Bless you, Amanda!! Thanks to Jen Hatmaker for her post and heart for Haiti!
Amanda - October 25th, 2012 at 4:20 PM
Thanks for your prayers. We are so excited that God has called us to this journey to these boys. There have been a lot of "goose bumps" around here the past few months. Our God is so amazing!!! And yes thanks to Jen for allowing this very special connection and for her precious heart for Jesus.
Margaret - October 22nd, 2012 at 12:48 PM
love this. Love the colors in the photos--beautiful
Rebecca - October 22nd, 2012 at 6:09 PM
Thank you for your words. This is my prayer: that God will direct the unrest in my heart over my own luxurious lifestyle, over my easy circumstance. I have so much, I need to use it for Him. But how? This is my cry and my prayer.
Karen - October 24th, 2012 at 7:54 AM
I visited Haiti for 12 days in January this year, so these posts from you all re-stir in me the feelings and memories that Haiti imprint on your heart. The smells.. The overpopulated craziness of the city... The frenzied driving that puts fear in you... the tent cities... the rubble in Port 'au Prince... the desperate condition of their hospitals, clinics... The lack of supplies and desks for their schools.... the dust and the dirt everywhere... the waiting and standing around of people... hoping for a chance at work... the beautiful brown faces of the very young that are longing for a hug, a sign of affection, the touch of a hand...

What I haven't heard from anyone yet is how much closer they are to God than we are. When I arrived at Mass on a Sunday morning at the break of dawn I didn't know what to expect ... I knew the conditions these people live in (the dirt huts with no running water)... but I get to mass and see that they all have their Sunday best on... girls in beautiful white dresses (how could they be so clean?) with bows in their hair and polished shoes... and men in ties and suit jackets... how can this be? - I know where they live - and how far they had to walk to get here? and no electricity to get ready... and how dark it must have been... and Ma Ma's with their hair pulled back and dresses on and jewelry looking gorgeous with big smiles and bright eyes and excited anticipation of the mass...

And there are no musical instruments or sound systems... their church only has 3 naked bulbs strung through the center of the block building, run by a generator... yet the voices lifted up to God are strong, and loud, and joyous. And the young women dancing at the altar so elegantly to the music sung from those voices... moves me... like tree branches swaying in the breeze... and the music all sung in Creole.. but the tune is one that I recognize.... and I feel a closeness to God that isn't there in our sterile world. It's raw here... but it's real!

And I compare this to my own efforts to prepare for mass regularly... I wake up at the last minute after hitting the snooze several times... and throw on a pair of jeans that are wadded up by my bed from being out too late after the ball game the night before... brush my teeth and run my fingers through my hair... no makeup... no extra effort on my part... and I find myself annoyed that the priest is rambling.. or distracted thinking about how my child didn't get many minutes in the game this week... or praying for selfish things in my life... or secretly planning what I will be making for lunch on Sunday...

... and my mind goes back to Haiti... and how engaged they are... there was no game the night before to distract their mind... there was no choice in what they wore... it was the same thing they wore last week... their Sunday best.... that they polished up and prepared for Sunday mass... there may not be a dinner to worry about after mass... their stomachs will be filled only with the word of God. This is what they looked forward to all week... they didn't have a game or a party or a dance or a full night of t.v. trying to figure out what the Kardashians are doing. They were waiting for mass on Sunday. They were anticipating it all week...

... and I think... they are so much closer to making it into the gates of heaven than me... and isn't that what our ultimate dream should be? Shouldn't that be what we aspire too? To look forward to mass on Sunday and not feel that it is an obligation... or worse yet a chore.

Haiti needs our help. Although things look desperate... that any $ sent to them will not fix their problems until their government supports their people and promotes manufacturing and the ability for people to work (wake up America.. our current political party is not promoting for us to work either - story for another day)... until the government supports them... they won't be fixed... all the mission trips and money given and clothes... and food... won't "fix" the poverty in Haiti until the government supports manufacturing and allows them to work... but in the mean time we shouldn't shut the door on them and turn our head... just as we wouldn't turn our head on a family member with a terminal illness... we would care for them and try to make them more comfortable... as our financial support helps...

But... we should also learn from them... learn that our faith and our lives and what we see as important in the states is silly. How many people will you talk to over the next couple months that have their biggest problem being what to get their kids for Christmas? (They have everything! - Well then don't get them more!) It's silly and senseless and foolish the way we think and act in America... but this is where we live and what we know and we are just acting like our neighbors and brothers and sisters and those around us...

Haiti is impoverished and awful and beautiful and someday when I die... I hope that as they look out at me from inside Heaven they have the courage to ask God to open the gates for me.... I hope that I can make it into those gates some day... I have no worries about whether they will be there or not!
Stephanie @ Hugs, Kisses and Snot - October 25th, 2012 at 10:24 AM
3 snaps in a Z formation! I seriously love this post. What an awesome call to action. Thank you for your passion, for your honest heart, and for calling us Christians out on the carpet. Jesus never said his path would be easy. In fact he let us know that doing his work was going to be seriously hard when he told the rich man to sell everything and follow him. I don't think we're all truly expected to take a vow of poverty but I do think he expects us to wake up and open our eyes to his suffering children. I think he is much more concerned with the welfare of the least of these than he is with who will be the next president.
Keep fighting the good fight
Stacey - October 26th, 2012 at 8:15 AM
Hi Jen, thanks for you posts. We spent some time in Haiti this summer. We took our two kiddos, ages 7 and 5. We took them through this mess and joy and emotional roller coaster and found that in the end, after we had processed and reprocessed, it was the best decision of our lives.

Not a day goes by when my brilliant and sensitive, seven-year-old son, doesn't say, "Mom, we have it so wrong here. I miss living in the poor country. They have it better."

Now, how does this sweet child of mine process the filth and chaos and sickness and death into "better?" He sees God in it. He sees God in the hearts of those making a difference. He sees community and real need.

Thank you for sharing. Love your books. Love your words. Keep up the good work!
Sara - October 28th, 2012 at 12:55 PM
You are messing with me Jen Hatmaker.

God has been stirring something in me for a few years now. My husband and I downsized a year and a half ago because I just could not sit around any longer in my big house that left my wallet too thin to be a giver. It made no financial sense in this terrible real estate market (as everyone liked to point out) but God was so good to unite us and make it impossible to ignore the unrest he placed in our hearts (though, oh how we tried!). It felt so good to cut our mortgage in half and start tithing properly with some room for marginal giving. But somehow, now, that is just not enough. And as these thoughts mess with my brain and keep me up at night, I have to come across this author named Jen Hatmaker who insists dousing my teeny tiny flicker of a flame with gallons of highly combustible gasoline (okay, it can be flex fuel, just for you!). I don't know exactly what to do with all this. But I am wrestling. I cannot rest easily. I cannot sit idly by. And I have a feeling that is just your point.

Coincidentally, our church had a day of "rice fasting" during your Haiti tour. We all (in theory) ate the Kids around the World rice for a day and donated the money we would have spent on food for the day to buy rice for Haitians. During my family's last meal of the day, while the rice was sticking in our throats, I pulled up your words and pictures of Haiti that day. We sat with the laptop at the table, as I read your account aloud, my young kids asking me why I was crying and my 10 year old, enraptured, asking me why I was skipping parts -- not understanding that your words were stuck in my throat just like that rice. My selfishness, my entitlement, my apathy, my waste, my consumerism, my sin, stuck in my throat.

So please know that you ARE making a difference. I'm sorry that that difference comes in a little loser like me who has no clue what to do with all this, how her small life can make a difference, or even how to start when she feels so overwhelmed with just the responsibility of her family of 6 before her. But God is not letting go of me. And you are a part of that. So, thank you.

(And just so you know, I referred to a thesaurus once while writing this. You would be so proud.)
missy - November 14th, 2012 at 5:09 PM
Sara--Thanks for your words. We are in the process of downsizing right now. I have felt the same things as you. I've known for too long that we need to do this. We want to be able to give more. I keep wondering what I am teaching our kids? That soccer and girl scouts and other things come before people. Hurting people. That is not the legacy I want to leave them. Anyway, your words encouraged me.
Heather - October 28th, 2012 at 9:27 PM
Jen,

Thanks so much for this thoughtful post. It ministers to me.

My husband and I are currently wrestling with how to put hands and feet to what we see so clearly spelled out in Scripture, what it means to live out Isaiah 61:1/Luke 4:18.

Just picked up Barefoot Church, and we're just finishing reading 7.

Thanks for blessing us with your writing!
Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat - October 29th, 2012 at 8:28 AM
I am overwhelmed by the need in Haiti, and child sacrifice in Uganda, and AIDs orphans in Swaziland.

I am overwhelmed by the emotional needs of the "thrown away" kids who live down the street.

I am overwhelmed by the number of abortions performed each day.

I am overwhelmed by human trafficking, knowing Atlanta in the Bible Belt is the top place in the US for it.

I am overwhelmed by my husband's hospice patients who are younger than I am, and those who are dying alone.

I am overwhelmed by the youth who are throwing their lives away with drugs.

I am overwhelmed by the vast number of people who go to bed hungry at night.

I am overwhelmed.

I sponsor a child. I give to hunger programs. I gave my daughter to Uganda for a summer. I pack shoe boxes every year. I pray. I love on the neighborhood kids. I want to go to Haiti.

I don't know what else to do.
I don't know where to spend my energies.
The Crisis Pregnancy Center needs me.
The food bank needs me.
The hospice volunteer coordinator needs me.
The daughter I am homeschooling needs me.
The Christian Women's Job Corp needs me.
And the church my husband pastor needs me. (And he needs me too.)
I feel overwhelmed.
I feel guilty.
I feel everything.
I feel numb.
I feel confused.
I don't know where to plug in.

Perhaps others feel that way. It's not that we don't care. It's not that our hearts aren't broken. Our best efforts just seem like a drop in the bucket making us feel useless. Like storming hell with a water pistol.

Seeking God's guidance for me and His mercy for the world.

Katie Blackburn - October 30th, 2012 at 6:37 PM
so, so, so good. Thank you!
Alyssa - October 31st, 2012 at 1:12 PM
Hi Jen, I discovered your book 7 sometime last year and I read it and I loved it! You are such an amazing example and I really look up to you. I'm 22 years old and I have to admit I was falling away from God and I kept meeting people who call themselves Christians but don't practice what they preach and this made me even more stand offish, but I found your books and I really look up to you. You are such a good person! You're a great example for me and I just wanted you to know that!
Olivia - November 4th, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Jen,
How do you reconcile the messages of books like "When Helping Hurts" or "Toxic Charity" with what is commanded of us in Scripture? I swing between two extremes of wanting to pour out 99.9% of what I have for the oppressed, but also feeling wary of the cycles of dependency/entitlement that can sometimes result. (At least that's what guys with a lot more head knowledge and life experience tell me.) In the most sincere way possible, I feel stuck between pure, unabandoned giving to the poor and what seems prudent. Are the messages of Jesus and Rob Lupton compatible at all?
Letitia - November 24th, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Thanks for this! Your words articulate what I feel inside often, but forget just as often. You have the passion of someone who has seen injustice with fresh eyes. I've felt this before...it's powerful and life-changing. It's easy to forget if we don't let God break our hearts about it!

The last few posts I've read have encouraged me...as I just wrote a blog post about feeling overwhelmed by the odds stacked against kids in Haiti. Sometimes it feels like the problems outweigh the solutions and if I let that get to me I can lose focus completely of what I'm doing here in Haiti and become useful to no one...especially God!

So thanks for putting words to thoughts I have also, but am having a hard time finding!
Tasha - December 27th, 2012 at 8:48 AM
You are being heard, Jen!! You have been such a blessing to me...through everything going on in this world I love having your blogs and books to read and re-teach me time and time again what is important in this world and where my attention NEEDS to be focused. It is so easy to get caught up in the first world complaints going on around me, but it's getting better. I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do on myself and my family, but we are starting to see the light. If you think you are not being heard you are wrong...you truly are an inspiration...I wish I did half of the speaking, traveling, and mission work you do! I've been praying like crazy for the Lord to show me what to do on this earth to be his hands and feet to make a difference and live for a greater purpose for my family and myself. I want to raise our kids to serve others and give everything we have for the poor. It's scary, but I know it's necessary and nothing is scarier than disobeying the Lord. My biggest struggle is knowing where to start...I want everything we do to make a big impact. I want my money that I donate to go to a great cause. Sometimes I get so caught up in research and where to start that I do nothing at all! We adopted our son almost a year ago and I'm just struggling to find things we can do as a family- hands on projects and not just sending money. I want to send ourselves! If you have any advice or projects to participate in I would love to hear from you! I want you to know you are making a huge impact in my life...I'm reading 7 right now and I know it's going to change our lifestyle in a big way and I cannot wait!!

Thank you!!!
Aletha Langham - January 26th, 2013 at 1:35 PM
January 25, 2013
We live in an area where there are many Haitian refugees. Today a man came to my door begging for work and hungry. While he ate his sandwich I prayed for him but tomorrow I will find work for him Dear Lord please let us love our neighbor more than ourselves.
Amber T - March 26th, 2013 at 10:49 AM
Hi Jen! I read this post back when you first put it out there and your words, Haitii's story, her children's plight...they all set up shop in my heart and despite my effort i just can't let it go. they have firmly planted their feet and are stomping to get my complacent heart to move into action. i have two young children and i want to be an example of Jesus in action today for them. i would love to be able to join a group travelling there so i can become involved more deeply. is that a possibility? would love to hear more from you regarding service opportunities. thanks!
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