Noticing What God Wants You to Notice


By Shawn Kiger

A few weeks ago, on our mission trip to Haiti, I was reminded that God often shows up in ways we do not expect or plan for. I like to plan out mission trips as much as I can. I like to make sure we have directions to every place we are going and know how long it will take to get to each place. I double check with the agencies to make sure they are prepared for us. I like to be organized so that the trip will run as smoothly as possible. But on mission trips to locations like Haiti I often have to give up some of that control, and when I do I’m amazed at what God will do.

Part of our work in Haiti was children’s ministry. Basically we ran a mini VBS for kids at the church we were working with. We would have a scripture lesson and a skit to explain the lesson. We sang songs both in English and Creole. Then we would go outside and play with the kids. We played soccer, threw around a Frisbee, jump rope, and lots of other kid games. 

On our first day of children’s ministry one of our team noticed a little boy hiding in the bushes. Despite the language barrier they tried to talk to him to see what was going on. It seemed he wanted to tell us something but was very embarrassed.  Through one of our translators we learned that he had a problem with his leg and he wanted to see if we could help. He lifted his pants leg to reveal a large open wound cyst near his ankle. We had a nurse with us on our team and I had her take a look. She confirmed what we all thought, he needed to see a doctor very soon. We talked to the pastor of the church and he did not know the boy or his family. The pastor talked to the boy for a while and suggested he come back tomorrow with his mother. 

The next afternoon we arrived back to the church, and to our delight the boy was there again, hiding in the bushes; and this time his mother was with him. The pastor and our interpreters spoke with the mother and we learned that she had taken him to the doctor, but the doctor wanted to remove his leg. What started out as a small scratch got infected and became life threatening. The mother did not have the money for surgery and of course, did not want her son to lose his leg. The pastor suggested a different doctor, and we gave her some money for transportation and the doctor’s visit. 

The next day we arrived back to the church for our final day of ministry with the children and the mother said she saw the doctor and set up another appointment the next week to see what they could do. After we got home we found out that they could save the boys leg, but he would have to have surgery and the mother could not afford the $400 that it was going to cost. We were able to send $500 to the mother; and the last we heard, the boy was at the hospital. Communication is slow in Haiti so we are anxiously waiting to hear how the surgery went.

This was never part of the plan for our mission trip. In the many months of planning our trip I never thought we would encounter a little boy that needed our help to save his leg and possibly his life. But I often reminded our team to keep their eyes and hearts open to what God is doing. I’m so thankful that one of our young people did just that by noticing the little boy in the bushes. They didn’t ignore him but showed great love and concern for him.  

While I still think it’s important to be well-planned and organized for mission trips, I also know that God works in the unplanned times as well. Our job is to try to notice where God is at work and join in that work. When we do that we may just be able to save a little boy’s life!