Cap in Hand

Lenny FosterIn a post a few months ago, I wrote about the awkwardness of being asked for money on a regular basis (“To Give or Not to Give“). Now that I am back in the States, however, the tables have turned. Summertime is fundraising time, so now I am the one asking other people for money once again. It feels weird, and not just because I’m the one going around hat in hand. It’s also that the scale of what things cost vs. people’s spending power is so much bigger here. In Haiti, ten dollars is a lot of money to most people. In the U.S., ten dollars barely covers lunch. Whereas $60,000 could easily feed our schoolchildren a hot lunch every day of the week for a year in Haiti, the suburban megachurch I attended here last Sunday had raised more than that for a new video projection system and wasn’t even close to reaching its goal. As a missionary in such a context, it can be discouraging to see one’s calls and e-mails go unanswered and one’s support dropped.

Asking for money never gets any easier, but the Lord takes care of his own. On Monday, I sat across from a gentleman at Starbucks who has been amazingly generous to me, though I was a near total stranger to him. A few others have quietly slipped me a “handshake donation.” Various medical expenses I’ve had to address have cost a pittance thanks to an amazing health insurance plan that only costs me $20 a month. My parents’ summer landlord paid me forty bucks to tar his roof. Also, I’ll pay half as much in airfare to Haiti this time around thanks to a friend in the Dominican Republic who will let me stay the night and shuttle me from the airport and to the bus station the next morning. I am grateful for all of it.

Would you like to be the next link in the chain? As it stands, I need $5,723.09 to “reset the meter,” so to speak, back to $15,000 for another year of teaching. If you would like to cover all or part of that need, please click the yellow “Donate” button on the right side of this page or at backtohaiti.com.

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Summertime & Bearing Fruit

grapesThe days are long and hot and the flowers are all in full bloom here in North Carolina. I am back here for a break until mid-August, after which I will return to Haiti to resume my responsibilities as a Bible school teacher. After a trip home that involved a five-hour delay in Cap-Haitien and an unexpected night’s stay in Florida, I was especially grateful to be able to return to the “land of plenty” that is the United States. I was also grateful to the Lord for permitting me to see and pray with my grandmother (whose health had been declining steadily for several months) before she went to be with the Lord on the Fourth of July. I received news of her passing over the phone on Friday while watching the Independence Day parade.

I am not someone who would claim to hear the voice of God very often. The day after I got back to the States, however, I heard what I believed (and still believe) was the voice of the Lord saying one simple, clear sentence, “They are your reward.” By “they,” he meant Haitian believers whom he has called to himself and whose discipleship he has committed, at least in part, to me. Their mature discipleship would be the fruit and reward of my labor. I was grateful for that word this past weekend when I traveled to Kentucky to attend the wedding of a friend from my seminary days. While the wedding was beautiful and I had a great time reconnecting with old friends, I also repeatedly found myself tempted to envy the respectability and financial security that many other seminary graduates enjoy. I am nearing thirty years old and have no money and most likely never will. The Lord has not promised us fame or fortune, however, but fruit. “You did not choose me,” Jesus said, in one of my favorite promises in Scripture, “but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.” (John 15:16) That verse is my lodestar, the orienting pole of my life. Some days, it is the only thing that keeps me going.

If you would like to partner with me in bearing fruit for the kingdom of God, it is easy to do and would be much appreciated. You can help in three primary ways: 1) praying, 2) giving (I have about $6,000 to raise by August — to give, click the yellow Donate button at backtohaiti.com), and 3) inviting me to share at your church or small group meeting while I am in the U.S. My schedule is wide open until August 14 and my phone number is (910) 723-8911.