Things Get Messy When We Get Close to the World’s Hurt

Here’s the simple truth:  if we get involved with caring for hurting people, we’ll end up in messy situations.  Life becomes complex.  We’ll face decisions that have no obvious answers, perhaps no good answers at all.  So if you want to keep things neat and tidy, you’d best steer clear of orphans and adoption and foster care…not to mention famine or disease or addiction or any other pressing human need.

For those who persist in the way of Christ—coming near to brokenness and need—the question can’t be, “How do we ensure we never face a messy situation?”  (Of course, we certainly should avoid foolish mistakes with wise, well-planned approaches when we can!)  For the follower of Jesus, the more important question is, “How will we address messy situations with both grace and truth when we face them?”

I was reminded of this again yesterday in what appears to be a case of severe misuse of power by people running an orphanage in Haiti.  What profound ugliness!  While purporting to defend orphans, it seems that the people operating the orphanage were actually trafficking them.

This reality represented a profound dilemma for the people who began to suspect problems.  They were on a visit representing a U.S. church and a global orphan ministry (both members of the Alliance), there to consider partnering with the orphanage.  Right off the bat, the visitors sensed malfeasance.  They could have walked away.  Instead, they began digging deeper.

The evidence confirmed their fears…and worse.  Eventually, the orphanage’s director was arrested.  But his colleagues continue running the orphanage.  And local authorities as yet appear unwilling to act further.  So this U.S. church and the global ministry are now seeking to shine an international spotlight on the situation–urging CNN to investigate and tell the story in a way that spurs action from Haiti’s government.  (See reflections on the investigation from one individual involved–#1, #2, and #3—and the online petition urging CNN’s attention HERE.)

These are difficult matters.  The investigations done thus far required extensive effort and cost.  Even now, there’s no obvious “right” way forward.  But the individuals and organization seeking to the address this issue understand a vital truth:  this work of wading through the muck and mire of complexity is often inseparable from the shinier, happier moments that (also) come with serving orphans in distress.