by Chris Surber
I never imagined God would lead me to live in a place like Haiti. My first mission trip to Haiti was less than 3 years ago and it was my first mission trip anywhere. For years I’d ministered to what we would call the “least of these” in America. It was meaningful ministry but it was nothing like this.
My wife went to Haiti a few months before my first trip. God broke her heart there. She subsequently dragged me to Haiti and He broke my heart too. On that first trip nearly three years ago I met a little girl with a big smile that is now a part of my family. I met Carmelie on a dusty, dirty, scorching hot hill in Haiti. Christina met her on her first trip. She was thirsty and asking Christina for water. I met her a few months later when my wife dragged me to Haiti. She asked us for water and in my mind all I could think was that poor little kid was still thirsty.
I took her around the corner, emptied my water pack into a cup. I gave it to her. She drank every drop of that ice cold water. I was as shaken as uncertain as to why I was so struck by the simple act of giving this little girl some water. I thought I must be the most prideful person to want to pat my own back as to the kind deed I had done. Maybe I was just congratulating myself on the inside for being such a benevolent man. Maybe I was just losing my mind at the sight of the most immense poverty. It was lack on a scale I didn’t really know existed.
Later that day I was sitting with my wife in the bed of a little barely running truck when it hit me. God brought Matthew 10:42 to my mind. “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” I’ve ministered in all kinds of contexts but this was the first time all of the trappings and veneer that had been unknowingly cluttering my understanding of what it means to just be obedient to God’s call to the poor were stripped away. It was just me, a poor little girl, and a cup of cold water.
God moved Christina and me so much in Haiti that we decided to spend 2015 living there as a family. She and I and four kids packed up and went on mission. We founded “Supply and Multiply” as a kind of family project to make a difference in Haiti. In barely two years it has grown to be an impactful presence in Montrouis, Haiti. We have done and are doing more things than can easily be mentioned here. From an Elderly Care Home with several full time staff and residents, to bringing scores of mission teams to Haiti, to ministering to children, to opening our lives and hearts up to the poor, and walking alongside so many people as simple fellow pilgrims on this journey, God is using our simple offering of obedience and growing it in every way.
We’ve recently moved back to Virginia to Pastor a church as we continue to nurture the ministries we established in Haiti through our Haitian staff, and leading mission teams there several times a year. We all came back speaking a second language (Haitian Creole). That little Haitian girl came back with us too. Living in Haiti has changed our family in nearly every way. It has sharpened our sense of God’s heart for Christians to live simple lives on mission for Him. It trimmed a lot of fat off of how we think about stuff and possessions. It has made Christian and me stronger leaders in the local Church.
Most of all, it has given us a crystal clear view of what it means to live a life on mission for Christ in this world. I’m presently writing a book entitled “A Cup of Cold Water” to be published with Energion. It’s a discussion based on Matthew 10:42, where Jesus says, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”(ESV) The central theme of the book addresses how to do that in real terms in the real world in our lives.
The book examines how we are to live as those called to fulfill the Great Commission: to lead people to Christ for eternal life, and obey the Great Commandment to love people in this world. Jesus calls His disciples – us – to preach the Cross and live like people dying in light of the Cross. Shout salvation and live compassion.
Jesus commands us, His disciples, to preach the good news, the good news that He died for sinners and rose again; that He defeated death and the grave, and we can have new life in Him. Jesus also tells us to feed, clothe, care for, and love the least of these. God is calling us to abandon ourselves to lives of Christ-centered compassion. When we do the world sees Jesus on the Cross in us.
What if He’s calling us to life on mission – and what if we lived on purpose. Go therefore and make disciples and as you go, be a living witness to the power of the Gospel. What if we preached it and lived it. What if it’s simple and what if we simply lived it out? A couple of times a month for the next few months I’ll be sharing the thoughts that are driving this book here. I’ll be asking some “What if” questions about discipleship and service.
What if we just took the attitude that where people are starving we should feed them? Where they are hurting we are called to help them? All people are spiritually poor. We must preach the saving Gospel that saves souls. What if we started seeing our call in this world to simply and directly be the incarnation of Christ to a hurting broken world in every area of our life? What if we made our Christian walk about sharing a cup of cold water with people in need as an expression of the Gospel having taken up residence in our lives?
What if it’s simple? What if we simply lived like people God has changed? Is it possible that would change some things? What if?
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