The older I get, the more skeptical I’ve become about apocalyptic predictions. I’ve seen too many come and go. The latest genre of alarmism tends to be environmental in nature. My less skeptical friends try their best to persuade me that apocalyptic environmental prophecies are more legit than I realize, that I should minimize my carbon footprint and can begin by ridding myself of disposable plastic bags and bottles. I typically respond with a polite nod of the head, followed by ‘Yep. Right. Got it.’ at which point I ask them whether they think Bryce Harper is worth ten years and a gazillion dollars?
Then came a trip to Haiti. While Haiti is the poorest nation in our hemisphere, it has one plentiful resource: Discarded plastic. It’s staggering. Everywhere you look, you can find discarded plastic bags and bottles. People walking over it, living on it, picking through it. It clogs the streams until say, a hurricane arrives, at which point mountains of plastic simply make their way into the ocean. To be sure, having an actual sanitation system and a functional government would make a big difference. However, even when buried in landfills, it won’t bio-degrade and, well… that’s the problem. Now, when I use a plastic bag or grab a plastic soda bottle, I kick myself if I don't remember to bring my own grocery bags. How did that happen?!
How did a skeptic like me become a believer?
It wasn’t words. Words alerted me, but they didn’t change me. In fact words, uninvited, only annoyed and hardened me. It was sight, smell and sound that changed me. It was firsthand experience that changed me. Seeing mountains of disposable plastic, littering the land side changed me.
Phillip once suggested to a skeptical Nathaniel that they had found ‘the Messiah.’ Nathaniel, being Nathaniel, responded cynically, at which point Philip simply replied, ‘Come and see.’
If there is one thing I am learning about ministry to (often) cynical men it’s this: Words tend to harden disinterested hearts, but experiences can unlock the soul. An increasing portion of my work with tDf involves creating venues in which the Nathaniel’s of the world can ‘come and see’ (and smell and feel touch…and yes, hear) what it’s like to follow Jesus who is engaged in the life-worthy task of ‘making all things new.’
As always, ‘thank you’ for being so kind to us and, by extension, to all those with whom tDf is engaged.
If you live in or around Phoenixville and know of something we (between 15-25 men/sons) can spend a couple of hours doing by way of community service, please let me know as we are constantly looking for opportunities to ‘make all things new’ through our monthly Men2Serve gathering. Also, please feel free to join us, and bring a friend, if you’d like!
If you know of anyone with expertise in recycling, I’d love to talk with them about the desperate need in Haiti for recycling stations that might be done in partnership with churches. It would be a great way to bless Haiti both environmentally and economically. Perhaps you may be the one who connects us with someone who someone who has recycling experience and a desire to ‘make all things new’ in a nation in desperate need of hope and opportunity. Who knows how God might work?