I’m told that a milestone birthday like this one is best marked by taking stock of your life. I don’t really know how to do that, but certainly one way is to give some of my time to people whose circumstances are not as fortunate as mine.
I have such an opportunity this year, just one month before my birthday. My friend Kent Annan, cofounder and codirector of Haiti Partners, is leading a small group of people on a mission to Haiti in May. Originally planned to give further insight to the story he tells in his book Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle (I was Kent’s editor), the plan for the trip changed after the January earthquake. But the trip will go on.
Seven of us will join Kent May 20-24 for this tour of one of the poorest countries in the world. We’ll be witnessing the education work Haiti Partners has become known for and supporting the ongoing relief work there. In contrast to the ten thousand well-intentioned faith-based programs that are, according to sociologist Tony Campolo, “making matters worse” for Haitians by taking over the responsibility for the country’s rebuilding, HP’s “massive literacy program” is
reaching tens of thousands of the 80 percent of Haiti's illiterate adults annually, and has brought hundreds of Haitians into a leadership training program called Circles of Change (see www.haitipartners.org). Instead of decrying a government-sponsored school system that often has barely literate teachers in its classrooms, this particular missionary organization, which is basically run by Haitians, is running in-service training for those teachers and thus upgrading their literacy and teaching ability. (Tony Campolo, “Making Matters Worse in Haiti,” Huffington Post, March 2, 2010)
I’m posting this for a couple of reasons:
· I need help funding my trip. The cost is more than I can cover on my own. Donations on my behalf are tax deductible: you can send a check to
PO Box 2865
Vero Beach FL 32961
Make the check out to “Haiti Partners” and indicate “Zimmerman Mission” in the subject field. Or you can go to the HP website to give online; simply indicate “Zimmerman Mission” in the comments section of the form there. Any funds raised over and above the cost of my trip will be used to advance HP’s ongoing work in Haiti.
· More to the point, a trip like this shouldn’t be taken in isolation. So I’m hoping you’ll consider yourself a partner in this effort—praying for me, testing my motivations, helping me process my experience.
My wife and I are “between churches” right now, so I entered into this trip with some uncertainty: Who would help me make my way to Haiti and back? Who would I be representing during my time there? Who would help me learn from this experience? But what I’m slowly coming to learn, and what I expect this trip will show, is that there really is no “between churches”—there is one church, spread thin and strained though it may often be. We are part of one another. In Haiti I’ll meet our brothers and sisters; if all goes according to plan, I’ll worship with them under tents outside the rubble that used to be a church building. I will bring your love and concern with me to them, and theirs back to you.
Thanks for considering being a part of my trip. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. And yes, any donations will serve as my birthday gift this year. And yes, you may mock me mercilessly for becoming an old man.
Forty!!! How did that happen?!?