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Stories of Feeding God's Children Hungry in Body & Spirit

Making Eye Contact

Making Eye Contact

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” --1 John 3:18 

Patrick Engesser is the IT manager at Feed My Starving Children. He took a trip to Haiti in September 2014 and shared the following with his church.

These stories focus on seeing others as God sees them -- by making eye contact -- and not turning away.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and maybe in the entire world. I thought I was there to bring God’s mercy. Instead I was the one receiving.

In Matthew 25:34-40, Jesus shares the importance of seeing others where they are, to share in what we have, where these others are -- others who do not have what they need. To know their needs, to see and connect, we need to make eye contact.

There were many but I have selected the following moments of eye contact to share -- these are my realizations from Haiti:

Utter poverty

Our first stop in Haiti was the village of Old Letant.

The stark and deep level of poverty hits me in the face. Many children have no clothes, living in mud hut housing with no windows in 90-100 plus degree heat.

There is a lack of access to almost anything in this location and no opportunity to create economic activity. All of this made it seem like there is no path out for these people. My eyes are now open and my heart is starting to hurt.

Communication beyond words


Pictures can speak loudly. It was scary not knowing the language, not understanding people's circumstances or the depth of challenges they face.

How can one connect given those barriers? A camera! Going from not knowing how to engage these children to having them swarm you is amazing!

God is showing His beauty in these people. In that moment, these kids can engage with someone and something outside their community and circumstances.

Maybe, mercy from God for them? For sure, God’s mercy for me.

My eyes now see more than just the pain of difficult circumstances but the joy of being alive in any circumstance.

Communication is a challenge. One of my favorite pictures comes from a 10-year-old boy from Old Letant.

Since we do not speak the same language, I pulled out the standard, "How you doin?" line and he mimics, "How you doin?" Then I say, "I am doing good" and he mimics, "I am doing good."

So every time I would engage him he would say, "How you doin?" and "I am doing good." I felt like I had created a Haitian “Joey” from the TV show Friends.

Not a high brow conversation but a human connection is made. Love that little boy! Even having a mimicked conversation requires eye contact which is the foundation of connection.

Take off the sun glasses

Tuesday, after having spent a morning loading a large number of meals for LAC’s partners, we went to our first village to deliver meals in Fond Bayard.

Sun glasses are a 20th century invention. Sun glasses impair us, prevent us from bridging the gap with another person.

When you look into another person’s eyes -- usually, only then, is it possible to see that person -- as another human being, as an equal to me.

I am not sure who said the eyes provide a view into the soul but this really struck me that day. I had forgotten the importance of eye contact -- to be in the moment with someone, in their circumstances, to makes it personal and real.

The women and children are coming to get their box of food at our truck. I initially had my sun glasses on. It felt like I was hiding.

As soon as the sun glasses come off, there is eye contact, stares turn to smiles and smiles melt my heart.

Haiti changed me

Haiti changed my perspective on Christ’s call on my life. Haiti changed how I read Matthew 25:34-40. Asking me to take action first -- to not go to the other side of the road and pass by someone who is suffering, but to act in that moment.

I saw with my own eyes God at work. It started with love for a stranger, helping just one person, one soul, one brother, one sister. It started with opening my eyes and making eye contact.

Whoever we are, wherever we live, and whatever our circumstances, to God, each of us is important, in the same way as we hear Jesus share in Luke 12:7, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

God is talking about ALL of us. When we connect we start seeing those we serve as our brothers and sisters.

On this trip to Haiti, I received God’s mercy. I know now why God so often calls us to help each other, to serve the poor and more importantly why I needed to say “Yes!”

By any of us taking ACTION, God is glorified. God is asking us to make eye contact, to connect. God is asking us to SEE and then to ACT.

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