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Shine Like Stars, Philippians 2, and Patchouko

Someone recently asked me,

“You say you want to give out bibles, but what else are you planning to do? What do you see yourself doing in Haiti, I mean, besides just handing out bibles? You say you’re just a laborer in the field, but you’re so much more…”

My answer to that is simple, and maybe one that needs to be more publicly understood.

I feel God is asking me to bring bibles to the people of Haiti. I feel like He’s opening the doors for that mission.

Now, if I strap a dozen bibles onto my pack and start walking up into the mountains of Haiti, and I go with the wrong attitude, by the time I’ve gone a mile, those bibles will feel like a mill-stone around my neck, like a giant sandbag pulling me down to the earth. Each step will become a burden and my heart sinks deeper and deeper into the chore. By the time I hand that bible to a Haitian, will I have any love? Will there be any joy or any light? Or will I be tired, exhausted, frustrated and hurried, wanting to just finish my ‘job’. Right now, as a photographer, I load a very heavy backpack and walk up and down 30 miles of mountains in Haiti to photograph 1500 kids, so they can be sponsored back in the States. More than once someone has lifted my pack and groaned, wide-eyed at the weight of it, followed by the curious question of ‘how in the world?’

All I know is that if I’m grumpy about that pack or the miles I had to walk to find that child, will that little boy or girl feel any love from me as I bark out orders for them to smile? More importantly, what will the people back home see, the child, or the fear masking the child?

If I take that same task of carrying those bibles and choose instead to view it as my mission, my privilege, then those bibles don’t bring me down. In contrast to the wrong attitude, those bibles don’t weigh anything.

I get to carry the Living Word, God’s Love Letter to a hungry soul!

When I hear someone ask me what else I see myself doing besides handing out bibles, the first thought that crosses my mind is, “Can there be any higher calling, anything more worthwhile or of greater eternal value? Can there be any greater privilege?”

You see, this way, when I hand a bible to a hungry soul, there will be love. There will certainly be light, and there will be joy, because of the respect and the reverence that I hold for the book that I’m giving.

Because I know it to be so much more than just a book. It’s not a brick, not just some mass, some weight, in my pack. It’s the Word of Life. Within the pages of this book I find a scripture that tells me that I get the opportunity to shine like the stars in the universe as I hold out the word of life.

(‘Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.’ Phil. 2:14-16)

Do you understand that it’s not just the physical act of holding out that bible that Paul is speaking of, but the attitude in which I do it? Without complaining or arguing. That even if I die, being poured out like a drink offering, that I should be glad and rejoice for the opportunity that I was given to be the ambassador of Christ…. that you too should be glad and rejoice with me? Do you understand that it’s an investment in eternity, and not a debit to our short mist of life on this Earth, to give our everything to bring the Good News?

To share this vision, you will first have to be like-minded. We have to be one in spirit and in purpose.

Would you consider Jesus Christ to be one of the greatest teachers to have ever walked this Earth? Can you deny His skill, if after 2000 years we are still talking about the words that came from His mouth?

Would you consider Jesus to be a great leader? Millions have followed Him to receive salvation. Can you deny his ability to lead when you read the accounts of the men who abandoned everything to follow Him, and then tell His story, even at the expense of their own lives?

I’ve been told I should write a book. I’ve been told I have the gift of teaching, and also that I am a leader. But if I’m going to be useful to Christ in any of those gifts, I need to look at my Mentor for my example.

My attitude needs to be like His.

Jesus humbled Himself and became nothing. He took the very nature of a servant!

The greatest teacher, the greatest leader, and He did what? Read Philippians 2.

My mission is not to secure or entertain a lofty, more exciting role in God’s plan. I’m not laboring for the ambitions of writing a better script, hoping someday for the real-life Broadway show starring me.

I’m content in the awesome responsibility of carrying His word. I have found a need and I am meeting it. I see a thirsty soul, and I have a cup of cold water.

My reward will be the souls I find in Heaven, who are there because they read what was between those pages.

It will be, to me, the best story ever told. While they may never know my name, by the incomprehensible power of Jesus, we will share the same name.

Here is my brother, Patchouko. When he sees me show up at the orphanage, he knows that he and I are are in for alot, and I mean alot, of walking. He knows that we’re going up, and down, and up, and down those mountains. He knows that he’ll be asking, more than a thousand times, ‘What is your name?’ and “What grade?” to a child in front of him. He knows hundreds of them won’t be on our list, and we’ll be writing them on a dry-erase board as new sponsors. He knows many of them we’ll never find.

He knows that there is a great deal of work in front of us and that we’ll be leaving early in the morning, probably skipping lunch, and coming back late in the day. Even then, he knows we won’t be finished, because we’ll shoot until there is no more light left to shoot. He knows he will be leaving his wife and his little boy, and that he’ll be translating tens of thousands of words for me.

Do you know what he says when we start down the first step of the first trail together?

“I’m excited to accomplish our mission together.”

Do you know what he says when he sees me beginning to break down in the middle of the third week, when I don’t know if my knees will take another step, but I want to make a surprise trip to the top of the mountain to find the girl I sponsor, to see how her living conditions truly are as a slave?

He says, “I will come with you.”

“Patchouko, you don’t have to. This isn’t for sponsor pictures or for Mission Haiti. I’m going to find the truth about how she’s living.” I say.

“I will go.” He smiles.

“Why would you do that?” I say.

“To encourage you.” He says.

Here is my brother Patchouko. We share the same name.

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