We don’t come to help Haiti but to be taught and shaped by her people. The first lesson in our school is to submit to the wisdom and insight of our Haitian leaders.
Persevering discipleship comes when we are broken and then restored and modern discipleship is too often devoid of experiences which strip and break us.
The call of the first disciples certainly included both adventure and trauma. It was a call that pushed them to the edge of themselves, leaving behind all they knew in obedience and obsession for the one who called them. Likewise, soldiers are asked to undergo an extreme and strenuous experience at the beginning of their training to break and remake them. The experience is always transformative and profoundly strengthening precisely because it stretches the person to the limit. This is very much what Alan Hirsch means in his discussion of the right of passage events of tribal people, what he calls liminality.
Discipleship takes place in its most potent form when it is done in a liminal space.
This idea of liminality in discipleship then, is central to our school. The idea is to create a coming of age/rite of passage experience that is truly trying and which involves some risk; something that challenges and stretches, but does not harm.
For this purpose, Haiti is the perfect classroom to provide a liminal experience that challenges, stretches so we can experience the greatness of God and the desperation of the world he loves.
You can expect this philosophy to happen in four ways.
Trust in mission is built on authentic presence. We cannot commute into the place of mission and expect to be taken seriously or even to expect that the gospel will be fully represented. For that reason we want to (as much as it is possible) to create an experience which immerses the participant into personal, face to face, relational encounter with the poor and the effects of poverty.
Further, it is our conviction that a real life experience of poverty has more impact on the participant and transforms them into advocates. This means creating an environment as much like the life of the people we are walking with. We understand that this is temporary and therefore only a simulation, but for the sake of the truth and reality of the poor, it needs to be as close to real as possible. We do this by living with the poor and mirroring as many of the realities of their lives as possible.
We want to overwhelm our flawed thinking with a kind of carpet bombing of the mind with Biblical truth. So little theology is done on mission trip experiences to address the false thinking and theology that has created the world being witnessed. This is one of the great scandals of short term missions.
This inundation, we hope, will go a long way toward deprogramming our minds from a lifetime of unchallenged and unchecked thinking. Replacing the status quo with a barrage of arguments in favor of the poor and against structural and systemic evil (and our relationship to it). And to even take a swing at what Chomsky calls the “deep systems” of language and culture. We do this by asking for an intellectual investment and commitment from our participants, toward reading, reflection, writing and listening to high level teaching.
It is our intention to create a prolonged exposure to committed, loving and unwavering community; to help people experience what it is like to be in relationships with people who work through conflict toward peace, who pursue true reconciliation by holding onto both truth and love. We hope to teach people to fight and make up, to be known and still loved, and to learn that it is possible to not run and hide, but to be honest, humble, and vulnerable; seeing the outcome of what the new testament calls koinonia (fellowship/community/shared life).
Jesus As Lord
The final category has to be an encounter with Jesus. We intend to create both the space and the encouragement to be close to Jesus who is close to the poor. For our participants to have a real and unveiled revelation of the suffering servant, in all his grace, love, glory, power, humility, judgment and justice. We do this by carving out space for theological reflection, prayer and worship.