A book named Roots by Alex Haley was one of those required readings for me growing up. It tells the story of Kunta Kinte caught in the American slave trade, late 18th century. Unlike most required reading, this book impacted me tremendously. It stirred my soul. One scene I haven’t shaken from memory for 30 years is when a slave trader asked Kunta Kinte to “Make your mark here, boy”, indicating some type of signature to an unjust agreement. Among the atrocities, there just seemed to be something terribly undignified about the request.
I have to be careful with the correlation here. Please forgive any unintentional insinuation.
Last week I went to pay the foreman of a small building project that 2nd Mile Missions is doing in Monte Verde. We had the incredible pleasure of helping a fledgling school in the community install a kitchen and water well so that the kids can have running water and a place to cook and eat. When I asked the foreman, a respected professional in the community, to sign the invoice, he gave us a series of 3 X’s on the signature line. I honestly about lost it. How is it that one of the most successful professionals in this predominantly Haitian community was unable to write his own name?
In a subsequent conversation with Rod, he wisely reminded me that the battle we wage against the spiritual and material poverty we encounter here is hundreds of years old, and has sadly been compounded over many generations of abuse of power from within and from the outside global powers. The history of this island is tragic. Many times, I’ve felt like one of those cars with crash test dummies used to evaluate it's performance in an accident. The car never wins. Similarly, my efforts towards human and spiritual flourishing here seems futile at times. How can I survive the losing side of this perpetual accident?
I sensed God revealing to me this morning that He simply wants me to daily present the work of my hands and focus of my heart (my will, spirit, desire and motivation) to Him and let Him deal with the rest. No different from any Christ-follower anywhere really. That despite what it seems, He’s ultimately in control. So, like a young son or daughter presenting a scribbled family portrait, we present our lives, our mess, our victories, our hearts to Him and receive the smile and warmth of a good Father who sees a work of art. Not futility.