Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Trafficking or Rescuing? - A Fine Line

Ten Americans are being held in Haiti on charges of child trafficking despite claims by theBaptist run "Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission" that they were simply trying to rescue traumatized children – and supposedly at the request of desperate parents there. The group planned to take the 33 kids, who ranged in age from 2 months to 12 years, to a hotel in the Dominican Republic but were stopped at the border for not having proper paperwork.

The Haitian government remains skeptical. Authorities insisted Monday that the Americans, however well-intentioned, must be prosecuted to send a strong message against child trafficking – a long enduring problem in the country.

Max Beauvoir, who is head of Haiti's Voodoo Priest's Association commented, "These types of people believe they need to save our souls and our bodies from ourselves. We need compassion, not proselytizing now, and we need aid — not just aid going to people of the Christian faith."

This extra mission of the "Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission" may have been a super cause butused a shaky method. In all likelihood, it was their compassion that drove them to try to doa helpful thing but in a harmful way. In hindsight, it would have been better had they tried to care for the needs of the youngsters on their home soil in Haiti until the fragile government there can sort out the chaos and lead hurting orphans into loving families.

As far as Voodoo Priest Beauvoir is concerned, he needs to reflect some and maybe reel in his negative attitude. Perhaps his gripe really comes more from being threatened. He needs to know that Christianity is made up of Christians and that Christians bear the very essence and image of the Christ for whom they are named and serve. And because of that, it has been His love acted on by Christian missionaries who alone run or support an estimated 2,000 primary schools attended by some 600,000 students in the country. That is a third of Haiti's school-aged population. Church groups also run vital hospitals, orphanages and food-distribution sites - all of which was happening even before the killer quake!

Christianity is not unconcerned with meeting the most basic physical needs of the poor and downtrodden. Jesus repeatedly evidenced that during his short earthly ministry. And to expect Christians to show Christ's compassion for the physical and ignore the need for spiritual nourishment is, well, non-Christian and therefore unnatural. Missionaries are fully aware of the dire needs of the body. They know well that these material concerns must be addressed along side of man's most desperate need - the salvation of the soul.

Matthew chapter four records the experience of Jesus when He faced His famed temptation by His arch adversary. The writer says at the outset of the chapter, "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

The material that covers the majority of the planet is comprised of 2 basic elements - oxygen and hydrogen. Remove either, or alter the ratio, and you no longer have real water. The same idea is true of the Christian faith. James reveals the crucial nature of helping with the pressing material needs of others as a literal element of the faith. In chapter two he states, "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)

Jesus also made known the value of providing for basic needs of the body using Himself as the illustration in Matthew 25:44-45. "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

Meeting the temporal needs of the body in Christ's name is part of Christ's message. But dealing with spiritual needs of the human soul remains the supreme goal of the Creator. Paul shared this great truth in his first letter to a young pastor Timothy. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

God's consuming desire is to save all. And He does just that to all that come to Him in simple trusting faith. (Romans 10:13) As far as the appropriate time for proselytizing, Paul sheds the light of Scripture on that, too, in his follow-up letter to his son in the faith. "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season." (2 Timothy 4:2)

If there was ever a group of people who find themselves 'out of season' it is the entire nation of Haiti. Their staggering physical and material needs today are extreme – rivaled and exceeded only by their need of the spiritual and eternal relief offered only by true and accurate Christianity!

Bill Breckenridge

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