Nearly 3 years ago the world watched in shared disbelief as a devastating earthquake flattened much of Port au Prince, Haiti.
That night, as I tried to gather my thoughts, I summarized it into three things: Pray. Give. Go.
I committed to pray for people effected, people I’d likely never meet, and those who responded. I committed to pray for both immediate relief, for systemic change to a country devastated by decades of exploitation, and that somehow– mysteriously and amazingly– the earthquake could be used for God’s glory.
I committed to give appropriately and generously. As time went on that got messier and messier, but I committed to that.
I committed that if there was a way I could go and actually help people… I’d go.
The point of our trip was to visit some recent Amor houses built in a colonia to create a video inviting NYWC participants to spend a day of convention there building a house. The houses we saw were anywhere from 3 days old to 10 months old. If you aren’t familiar with how it works, essentially Amor acts as an agent of blessing for a local group of pastors. Individuals from the community request help from their local church, and the pastor asks Amor to build a starter-house for a family. They intentionally don’t do everything because they want the family to come in and make it their own.
Here’s the reality for Amor (and YWAM, whom I visited last year): Fear of gang violence has lead to tons of people from the States stopping their annual trips down. Conversely, the downward dip in the economy has meant people already poor in TJ are now much poorer.
All Amor is trying to do is help the local pastor answer the question, “How can the church be Good News so that the community will hear and receive Good News?”
Let me just say this: Forget what you’ve heard on the news. Yes, there are problems. Yes, drug cartel violence is horrible and deadly. But is Jesus always asking you to do the safest thing?
But TJ is still TJ. It’s a border town. And a border town is a border town. (No one ever claimed that Sarnia or Windsor Ontario were the hallmarks of Canada, did they?) If anything it’s much more developed than it was when I first went there 10 years ago. And I don’t think there is anything there to be afraid of for you or I.
Now, if you’re buying or selling drugs. Or at a club until 2 AM. TJ might be dangerous for you. But so is Carlsbad.