Sunday, March 27, 2016

Young and important

This following is a speech I recently gave to 20-30 youth who are members of congregations in the northern region of the Diocese of Haiti. I was asked as someone who is "experienced" in the church to pass along some words of wisdom. Even though I assured the teenagers gathered that I wasn't much older or wiser than they are, I do know what it's like to feel young and unimportant at times. While the past 6 months have forced me to both recognize how much more I have to grow as a child of God, I have also learned to assert the wisdom I already have and remain confident in the the contributions I have to offer in my mission. On this Easter Sunday, let's not forget the many blessings of this life and the call we have to serve Jesus using our the tools he has given each of us, no matter how young or old we are.

Faith didn’t mean a lot to me as a kid. I didn’t really want to take the time to think deeply about what God wanted for my life. But as a teenager, that started to change. I  started wondering more why God had made me the way he had. Why was I good at some things and not at others? What do I need to do to please God and did I even really believe in God?

As I grew more and more, I began to discover how much I enjoyed spending quiet time with God. The more time I spent trying to listen to God’s voice, the more I believed and the closer I felt to Him.  I started to think more and more about what God was calling me to do as an adult with the talents and gifts that He has given me, and I felt “called” by God to serve others and be transformed through mission work. 

Since coming to Haiti, I’ve grown even more in my faith and have realized how much I rely on God to give me the strength to do the work He has called me to do. I’ve realized that God has called me to do this work for a reason, which is that I have a powerful voice that should be heard and valuable gifts that should be used for the Lord’s service.

A verse from 1 Timothy says, “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."  I’m still a pretty young adult—I’m only 22—and many of the people I work with are older and more experienced than I am. But what I’ve realized more and more is that just because I’m young and don’t feel as important as others sometimes doesn’t mean I don’t have things to say and don’t have valuable contributions to make to the church. My voice and gifts have the power to help transform the world into the kind of world God dreams for us. 

You all have the same power to serve others that I have. Just because you’re young, just because you may not be sure about how God is calling you to serve your family, your community, your country or your world does not mean that you’re not important and that you don’t have important things to say. My advice for you is to be confident in what you have to contribute to the world, and take some time to discern where God is leading you to serve and in what ways. 

How can you start using your gifts to serve others, to serve God and to empower and love yourself? 

The fact that you’re here, gathered together, means each and every one of you is already doing this. Each and every one of you is here because you value your community and your relationship with God. That means that you’re already on the path to empowering yourself through God’s service. It means you’re already showing other people how to live as a Christian, old and young alike. If you continue to come together in spaces like this, if you continue to come to church and worship with your family and friends—that’s exactly how you can start to serve God in the present and discover what it is that God may be calling you to do in the future. 

I would also encourage you to start building spiritual practices if you don’t have any, yet. Spend a few minutes every day praying to God about your needs and desires. Do little things to help others, like encouraging a friend who is sad or struggling, or telling a family member how much you love and appreciate them. 

You are never too young to show others how to live as a Christian. You’re never too young to set goals for yourself in your spiritual life. He created all of us on this Earth to have a purpose—figure out what yours is. Figure out how you might help others with that purpose, and always remember that God and the Church want to support you in everything you do.


And here are some photos from a little trip we took to Les Cayes in southern Haiti and after!

Watching RAM, a famous Haitian band with a rock n' roll and vodou vibe, in Port au Prince

The Rev Carmel Chéry at St Esprit Parish, celebrating Palm Sunday

The Olofsson, where we stayed in Port au Prince before heading to Les Cayes, is known for hosting some of the greats, including Mick Jagger who once stayed in the room next to ours

The Olofsson in Port au Prince is a historic hotel built in the 1920s

A view from the balcony of Notre Dame de l'Assomption, the Catholic cathedral in Les Cayes

Panoramic shot of the coastline on our visit to the Marie Jeanne cave in Port-de-Piment, about 2 hours outside of Les Cayes

Our guide to the Marie Jeanne Cave!


Standing by "the elephant"

Goin in!

Ile a Vache, where we went for a day trip, was the perfect final stop on our trip

From the dock in Les Cayes at sunset

That's my hair peeking out from the chair!

The wonderful youth from the Episcopal parishes of the North

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