I suppose it's inevitable that, in certain circumstances, right actions lead to painful consequences. According to Acts, chapter 21, it was certainly that way two millennia ago in the Roman-occupied city of Jerusalem. Paul, the man whose letters make up about half the New Testament, had traveled to Jerusalem on a mercy mission. He discovered that accusers there were trying to destroy his reputation among the Jews.
In an attempt to restore confidence in his integrity and gain hearers for his message, Paul joined some others in the observance and completion of a religious vow. His very presence in the Temple, it seems, caused such a stir that Paul was grabbed by an angry mob seeking to kill him. Paul's arrest led him ultimately to Rome, where he defended his actions (and shared about Jesus Christ) all along the way.
This weekend, as the world has brought aid to a tiny Caribbean nation, the actions of a group of modern-day Christ-followers have led to their own painful consequences. This group, comprised of church people from Idaho (along with one from Kansas and another from Texas) stepped into the chaos following a massive earthquake in Haiti. Their mission was to assist Haitian orphans by transporting them across the border to the Dominican Republic. There they would receive care, food, education and such acts of love that leaders could provide.
This ministry to orphans was actually conceived before the earthquake. The noble purpose was to help the children from this "poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere." Using the groundwork that had already been laid and seeing the emergency need of a Haitian pastor-leader who explained that his orphanage had been destroyed by the quake, the Christians flew into action.
Their first few days were to prepare the location in the DR for the arrival of children. They then set out into Haiti to attempt bringing the children across. They persevered through various challenges of culture and language to finally arrive at the border crossing on Friday night. With them on their small bus were 33 Haitian children. Upon discovering a paperwork difficulty on the Haiti side of the border, they stayed for the night with a group of soldiers who were assigned there. The plan was to go back into Port Au Prince on early Saturday, acquire the needed documentation and cross over. They already had their Dominican papers.
After a few hours at the border, the group was accused by officials of trying to smuggle the children across. They were detained and the children were removed to other aid workers.
In hindsight, it seems that this concerned group was unaware of a general alarm that has been sounded inside Haiti regarding the very issue of taking orphans from the country. The Haitian government has a growing fear that Haitian children who have been separated from their families by the disaster may be taken too quickly out of the country, then discover later that their family -- previously thought dead -- turn out to be alive. If this concern existed as has been expressed, the actions of these Christians provided the flashpoint to bring it to the world's attention.
I have been cautious in writing this post. First, I don't know all the facts. Some things I am writing, I can only glean from various sources. But there is another reason. My wife's oldest sister, Teri, was a wonderful Christian lady who went to be with Christ in 1997. She was just 47. The ten (five women and five men) Americans who have been detained include her son, her son-in-law and her grandson.
Our whole family are grateful for your prayers as they go before a Haitian judge on Monday.