Jessie Aja

We left for the Detroit airport at 3:30 a.m. I finished packing for the week-long, University of Michigan spring break trip to Haiti around 3:00 a.m. I was nineteen years old – my sophomore year at U-M. To be honest, my biggest motivation for going to Haiti that February was to see my best friend who had moved there a few months before, on the last day of the trip. We’d be staying near his new residence.

One week passed. Our group began to board the flight out of Port Au Prince. I lingered on the runway, looked out toward the mountains, and left a portion of my heart there. In the beauty. In that place.

I returned one . . . two . . . three more times throughout the next couple years. I went to different cities and with different people and helped aide with water purification efforts and health needs. I did this, largely, because of the prompting of the Spirit of God and of Teresa Price (T). On the last night of my first trip to Haiti, T, a twenty-something year-old P.A., said this:

“When you return home from Haiti, don’t look around at your plenty, your excess, and your privilege and feel things like guilt or pity for the Haitians. Those are unproductive emotions. Those negative emotional responses ultimately allow you to – force you to – shelve your experiences here and move on. They move you toward nothing beneficial and nothing helpful – either for the nation of Haiti or for you. Instead, I want to urge you to feel a sense of responsibility. You are God’s children – you young people attending the University of Michigan – and these are God’s children – these struggling infants, malnourished kids, and ailing people in this broken nation of Haiti. God’s Church does not have state lines, national borders, or distinctions of any kind. There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free. I want you to return to your homes in Michigan and feel, not guilt for what you have or for where you were blessed to be born, but, rather, RESPONSIBILITY to care for and be a blessing to your brothers and sisters (and brothers-and-sisters-to-be) throughout the world. Feel empowered, feel a sense of urgency, and take responsibility.”

I have a heart for the nations – I dream that the nations would know the unfailing love of the Lord Jesus Christ and that all would be cared for, healed, and satiated in body and spirit. I am committed to living my life – whether I am stateside, in Haiti, or elsewhere – proclaiming the death and resurrection of the One Who saves, defending the poor and oppressed, caring for the widows and orphans, and living to hasten the day when all tears are wiped away and when unending joy replaces all sorrow.

I am not sorry that part of my heart lives still in the mountains of Haiti.

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