Noah’s Trip to Haiti (Part 1)

Noah and kids 1Our son Noah (17) spent 9 days in Haiti last month with a group from our church helping at an orphanage (Our older son, Nathan, went there 2 years ago.)  Some of these children became orphans after the 2010 earthquake (see my blog on Aftershock).  Here is the first half of the letter he sent to people who supported him.  I hope you are as moved as I was.

I wanted thank you so much for your prayer and support for my trip to Haiti. God protected us, and my team enjoyed safety and health. It was an amazing experience that changed my life and reached out to the lives of 68 orphaned children. Without you, this would not have been possible.  Thank you.

As soon as we arrived, I was hit by two things: heat and poverty. People crowded us at the airport asking to help us carry our bags, looking for whatever work they could find. After a ride in a Haitian style bus called a Tap-tap on roads with crazy driving, we arrived at the compound. We arrived before dinner and had time to unpack, unwind, and talk to the missionary who ran the orphanages, Greg Barshaw.

The next day we visited the disabled orphanage. The kids were very interested in my watch; they crowded around and wanted to push the buttons. They were content with the simple things, just standing there pushing a button, hearing a beep, and seeing a number change. I wish I could be as happy as these children over a little thing like that. After playing with the kids for a few minutes, Greg told us to gather around one orphan in a wheel chair. He looked barely responsive, and had a large cast around one leg. Greg said his name was Daniel, and he suffered from cerebral palsy. But as if being a poor orphaned child with a disability wasn’t enough, Daniel broke his femur when a therapist was trying to stretch it out. They operated on him without pain medicine and set the bone. I looked at Daniel and thought of the all the pain and loss, and wondered how it could be worth it. How could it be worth it to pull through all that pain to live in a wheel chair, unable to speak, unable to control your own body? Most of the group moved on to entertain other kids, but I stayed with Daniel and wrestled with this question.

One of our leaders, Andrew, began to hold his hand. After a little while, Daniel smiled. He was happy. In his horrible condition, he was happy, holding Andrew’s hand. In that moment, I knew why God put me in Haiti.



The Pope, the Patriarch, and the Professor in Jerusalem

Church of Holy Sepulcher Vid from David Lamb on Vimeo.

Tomorrow (May 25, 2014) at about noon ET in the US, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox church will meet in Jerusalem.  Pope Francis of Rome and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople will meet at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Professor David of Hatfield wasn’t invited, but I did visit the church two months ago.  For an eighteen second video of the outside of the church click above (ignore my sarcastic commentary).

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the supposed site of Jesus’ death and burial, the site is also called Golgatha (Matt. 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17), or Calvary (based on Calvariae the Latin for skull).  This particular site was chosen three hundred years after Jesus’ death while Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  She became aware of a pagan temple devoted to Venus and Jupiter that was built in 135 AD at the site supposedly to discourage Christians who had been worshiping there.  Graves were found which were assumed to belong to Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea.  People who doubt this site was the actual location of Jesus’ death and burial point out that the location would need to be outside the city wall, not in the center of town.  It’s hard to say definitively either way, but if you’re interested in reading more, click here.

While it’s very possible Jesus died at that very spot, it was still hard for me to connect to it spiritually.  Part of the reason for my lack of connection was the uncertain nature of a decision about a precise location 300 years after the event occurred. But the main thing that made it hard was the crowds.  My guess is that the crowds may be bigger tomorrow for the Pope and the Patriarch.

I visited the church with a group from BTS on March 25, 2014 and we tried to get to the crucifixion location, up the narrow stairs, but the crowds were outrageous.  We stood and waited, and waited, and waited, slowly pushing forward. Then suddenly an older Russian lady cut in front of us, pushed us back and informed us that she was trying to keep her group together.  I’m thinking, “Yes, but you joined the mob after we did.”  I got mad, indignant really, that her group was going to get to be at the right and left side of Jesus in his glory before I was (Mark 10:35-45?).

Something about the situation just didn’t seem right.  People pushing and shoving to get near the place that Jesus died for my sins.  The next day we visited another possible burial site, and that was a different story which I’ll talk about in the next blog.  I never made it to the burial spot for Jesus, the crowds were too big and we didn’t have enough time.

I wonder if Francis and Bartholomew will have the same problem tomorrow.

The two leaders are commemorating the 50th anniversary (1964) of a meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, which was the first time a pope and patriarch had met since the 15th century.  Odds-makers think this time Francis and Bartholomew will hug, more likely at least than a hug between me and that old Russian lady.

We’ll just have to wait and see about those hugs.

The split between the two churches occurred in 1054 over the filioque, Latin for “and the son” an expression that the Western church added to the Nicene Creed without consulting the Eastern church.  (Twenty years ago I wrote a paper on the filioque for my Systematic Theology class, but I won’t make you read it.)

Wearing Jesus’ shoes: Israel (Mar 23-April 6)

jerusalem_israelI head to Israel tomorrow (March 23) with folk from Biblical Seminary. There will be 15 of us: students, alumni and Derek Cooper, another professor.

We’ll spend 7 days in Jerusalem, 3 days in Galilee, travel back to Istanbul, where the rest of group will head back to JFK, while Derek and I will spend a 2 days in Istanbul, and 2 days in Athens (making a side trip to Corinth), returning home on April 6. In Istanbul and Turkey, Derek and I will be looking at possible sites for future Biblical trips.

I’ve never been to the Holy Land, so I’m really looking forward to the trip. Next fall when I teach about Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Hebron and I say, “When I visited there in the Spring of 2014…” perhaps students will finally respect me.

In addition to visiting the Israel Museum to see the Tel Dan Stele (aka, “The House of David” inscription–the oldest reference to King David), I’m looking forward to hearing about the story of the land from both a Jewish and a Palestinian perspective.

I’m going to try to post pictures and blogs while I’m there.  We’ll see…

I bought a new pair of sandals to wear on my trip (it should be a little warmer in Israel than in southeastern PA, which is expecting snow on Tues). Shannon said, “You’ll be wearing the same shoes as Jesus as you walk in his footsteps.”  WWJD? He’d wear sandals.

Have you been there? What was the highlight?