Today a dear friend brought me a terrible and yet precious gift. I was surprised by the rush of emotion and anger that came on me upon receiving it, over something so simple... I was distraught and inspired by it at the same time.

Tim Krauss and John Martinez are my co-workers in the Gospel and co-leaders in our ministry along with Vicki and myself. John and Tim recently spent several days in Haiti, visiting with 5 of the 6 pastors G.O. works with there in their own communities. Tim has returned to Louisville for a few days and carried with him this small yet profound gift.

Tim came into my office today with a scrunched up clear plastic bag. At the bottom of the twisted mass was a sampling of dirt from the interior of Haiti. Tim had presented me with the actual dirt from the mountains of Haiti used to make dirt cookies, eaten by Haitian children and adults to stave off the pangs of hunger. He acquired the dirt in a Haitian market during his visit.

Now I have a few dried shards of this Haitian soil, originally bound for the gut of some child or adult sitting on a bookshelf in my office.

I’ve known for a long time about the reality of dirt cookies in Haiti. I’ve been to Haiti several times and witnessed some of the challenges there. But there is just something about the actual presence of this substance up close and personal that really brings the weight of the reality to bear on my heart. Tim gave me the dirt and I could instantly feel heat behind my eyes. It was hard, suddenly, to speak without getting choked up.

In my hands I felt what was clearly the food of desperation, a lie, told to the body that everything was ok, that it was, in fact, fed. In my hand was a mother’s hope to quench the suffering of her hungry child regardless of whether or not it actually meant anything.

But it does mean something… It means we are a broken humanity in need of profound healing. The existence of this “humanitarian crisis” points to the spiritual realities that make its existence possible. The reality of this kind of suffering means that I’ve got no right to complain about anything. However bad I may ever imagine things to be, it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever be feeding my daughters, Sophi and Raena, dirt. It means that as a Christian I can’t sit comfortably by and appreciate how “blessed” I am because I have stuff without remembering that the only reason I’m blessed in the first place is so that I can be a blessing to others. It means that I’m called to figure out what I can do to help make a difference because children in the Kingdom of God DO NOT EAT COOKIES MADE OF DIRT! And if they don’t eat them there they should not be eating them here!

Dirt cookies mean we’re in serious need of a savior. If we get a hold of Jesus Christ and let him get a hold of us he will begin to shape us into responders and engagers for the sake of the Kingdom. We’ll be angry about the things that anger him, we’ll celebrate what he celebrates and we will learn to be servants to all. If we learn, as brothers and sisters, to live up to the calling of what it really means to be the People of God, the true humanity, there will be less and less of this kind of thing, but only if its born of love, not guilt.

So this dirt sits on my shelf in my office. It tells me to guard against self-righteousness because whether I know it or not some of my economic practices help constitute this grim reality in Haiti just by virtue of my participation in everyday buying and selling. It tells me that making an effort to change those practices is an act of good faith and in line with redemption. It tells me to not forget the severity in which my Haitian brothers and sisters (and others like them) live. It tells me to pray for revival and renewal in the land. It tells me to take heart because our work with G.O. begins to address the issue of hunger in Haiti both with food aid and the Gospel. Lastly, these shards of dirt point me to the promise that a day is coming when all bellies will be filled from the banquet table of King Jesus when his reign over the world is universally revealed. Dirt will be for walking on and the mockery of the adversary will be silenced forever.

For those of you that support us through your prayers, your financial commitments, your use of our Kroger gift cards, thank you. Through this support you are at work in Haiti too, helping to bring the Gospel to bear on the challenges that exist there. You help to bear the hope we share leading to the Gospel transformation of entire communities.