People around the world are working together to bring aid to Haiti. For this, I am so thankful. It is encouraging to see the way that people are eager to help with they see pain and loss.
As we are giving our time or money to help Haiti, we must pause to think about how we can help the most. We need to ask: How can my limited resources be maximized to bring true and lasting relief to the people of Haiti?
I have a few ideas:
- If you are going to give financially, give to a reputable organization. Visit their website and see how the money will actually be used. Find out how long they have been involved in Haiti and what safeguards they have in place. Haiti is a country that oozes with dependency, corruption, greed, and deceit. Many well-meaning people have given money because they see an immediate need, but they do not realize that their money is wasted. Giving to an organization that is financially responsible ensures that your gifts make it to the people in need.
- Give later. I suggest that Haiti will be flooded with finances for the next few weeks. People are moved by the images of chaos and pain, and they give. Consider giving something now and saving something to give later, when the money starts to dry up. Perhaps your church could start a “Haiti Relief” fund and ask each family to contribute $50 a month until Fall 2010. By then, the fund will be in the thousands and your leadership can have months to research the maximum impact for your gifts. Help now and help more later.
- Give to empower. Focus two kinds of organizations: those that help with immediate needs (medical doctors and nurses who can save lives right now) and those who develop communities. Organizations that build churches, chinics, and schools; dig wells; teach health, hygiene, and nutrition; these are they places where your money both gives a man a fish and teaches him to fish.
- Give for the Gospel. The answer for Haiti does not lie in economic or political stability. Even medical aid is a temporary fix to a deeper problem. The only lasting hope for Haiti is for hearts to be changed by the grace of Jesus. Many humanitarian organizations are doing good things, but neglecting the best thing. Give to groups that are helping Haiti with the Gospel as the focus of their work.
- Give for years. Sponsoring a Haitian child ensures a changed life. Through the right organization, you can provide medical care, education, healthy food, and the message of Jesus for children in poverty. Please consider spending about a dollar a day to make a lifelong difference in a life. I have seen MTH’s sponsored children first-hand. It’s a very good ministry.
- Give like a child. Matthew 7: 11-12 says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Look at the “So” there. God takes care of His children SO you need to love people and do good to them. If you are a child, you don’t have to look out for yourself. You are now free to live and love and give in a radical way because you have a Father who will take care of you.
So far, we are giving through these three organizations:
Mission to Haiti – MTH has been working in Haiti for almost 30 years. They are bringing medical, educational, economic, nutritional, and spiritual development to Haiti. Consider: 1) giving to them, 2) sponsoring a child, and 3) going on a trip to serve with your own hands.
Water Missions International – Clean water is the most essential resource in the world, and Haiti doesn’t have much of it. I have seen children bathing in a river downstream from a wrecked school bus that we leaking oil, gas, and filth into the water. Many villages do not have access to clean water.
Churches Helping Churches – This is a brand-new organization that aims to connect the resources of affluent churches (like yours and mine and every American church) with the needs of the churches in Haiti. They connect with reputable pastors and are seeking to help Haitian churches so that the Christians in Haiti can then help themselves and their countrymen.
I know there are many, many other worthy organizations.
May God use these ideas to motivate us all to be radically generous for the sake of love.