Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Dalonne & Job April 26
Enisse (and baby Sophia) departed in late March and Djenie (and little Kenny) in April from the Harbor House. Neither of them have shown a real desire to come back and live within the structure of the house. We've seen them and continue to reach out to them.

We've had struggles with understanding Dalonne and Job and a couple of the other new moms in the program. Yesterday Job looked to have lost ground again and was admitted into a Port au Prince hospital. 

We pray for wisdom in building trust in the relationships and for help in building community.  We hope that simple teachings about labor and delivery and breast-feeding will sink in, be accepted, and applied. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't. We don't know why one woman grabs onto the teaching while the next mistrusts it.  We don't know why one teen mom can accept correction and structure and remain in community while the next one, whom is just as loved, packs her bags to leave.

If you could sit on our porch in the evenings you'd occasionally hear me wondering aloud to Troy "What if this is a colossal waste of time and energy?"  There are times when we all stink at remembering the multiple good and positive things and our focus lands and rests on the difficult situations. There are times when we forget to trust God with our unanswered questions.

I was teary one afternoon a few weeks ago when Agathe, a Haitian woman who is an integral part of the Women's Program, said "Tara - You need to remember this is the beginning of the Harbor House. You are forgetting that when Beth started the pre-natal program there were many problems. We learned and things got better as we went.  You can't see the end yet."  

The post below was sent to me last week. With the authors permission I reprinted the portions of it that most apply. I may read it daily to remind myself that investing in people is never a bad decision, regardless of return on investment.

(Emphasis added by me. All of the excerpts below written by Arthur Burk and taken from here.)

* * *
 ... pouring into people.  At the end of the day, the deposit of God in each human spirit is an incomparable treasure waiting to be unpacked by someone who has eyes to see.

However, humans are also the most fickle and undependable commodity on planet earth

In our American culture, talk is cheap and relationships are easily shattered.  This is a riddle I simply have never been able to solve.  I watch hard-charging, ideologically driven people commit to a community, whether it is a mentoring relationship or a business or ministry.  So often in just a few months or years there is a grand announcement of how flawed the others are and an explanation of the utter imperative of parting ways.

On the other hand, I watch the incredible durability of dysfunctional communities.  People routinely remain in toxic relationships for decades, no matter how they are counseled to leave.

I think of Solomon’s summary of romance in Proverbs 30:19.  The wisest man in the whole world just shrugged and said it is an insoluble mystery.  The man with 1,000 women had no clue what made the male/female relationship tick.

Likewise, I know a whole lot about what makes individuals tick, but I shrug and admit total powerlessness when it comes to handicapping the trait of loyalty in community.  I have no idea who will be there for you or for me three years from now, in any of our three scenarios.

So it is a paradox for me.  On the one hand, people are an enormously good investment.  There is no other investment that can give you a higher return.  And there is no other investment so high risk and prone to failure.

It can be quite crazy making at times, because the most natural context for investment is through community.  God designed the community of family to be the tightest community, with numbers of other community structures around that.  We invest the most when mutual love is involved.

Look at these four data points on a line.  Imagine investing in your own child whom you love, in a close friend, in a casual acquaintance, and in a total stranger.  The further away we go from the love-based community, the less sparkle there is in the idea of sacrificial investment.

Yet, the deeper the love is in community, the greater the pain when you do not get a return on investment.  When you consider the four people in the previous paragraph, and all of them turning away from both your spiritual resources and from their relationship with you, the ones you loved the most will hurt you the most.

Into this picture, we need to bring a larger world view and revert to focusing on THE King and His Kingdom, not our little world.  We must invest in others because of the Kingdom.

If there is a massive God-explosion, will that investment in them benefit the King?  It is quite possible that it will.  It is possible (especially if they listened to it!) that they will be in a better place to serve the King because of that investment from me that did not generate community.

I am not complaining, nor do I teach people to be loyal to me.  I am simply stating that when hard times come, I know I can only bank 100% on the King.  I don’t invest in people in order to buy security for myself in the future, although investment is so much more fun when it is in the context of a loving community.

Once that issue is settled, then I am emotionally free to invest for the King, not simply to invest because I love someone.  Do I invest more in my love-based community.  Of course.  It is more fun.  But I am prepared to look at all sorts of people, to identify those who are possibly open to change, and to invest in them quite apart from any personal return on investment.

When things go really bad or really good, I think there will be some people out there who are of value to the King because I sowed something into their lives.  And there will probably be a lot of people who have been massively unchanged by anything I said or did for them.

That irony is immense.  People are the best possible investment you could make at any time.  And they are the worst.

Expecting people to be there for you as a result of your investment is an iffy proposition.  Investing in people in order to position them for the King, while you have no expectations for yourself, is a much better framework...

Copyright April 2011 by Arthur Burk