Love Breaks the Chains
Have you ever felt powerless to help someone?
One night 25 years ago I awoke to the sound of my neighbor screaming and her children crying. Their father was beating their mother again.
My wife and I were living in a crowded Port-au-Prince neighborhood where tiny tin shacks were pressed up against one another. It was impossible to keep anything secret.
In the U.S. I could have called the police, but back then I knew that the police in Haiti considered it a man’s right to beat his wife.
Not knowing what else to do, I decided to go knock on my landlord’s door to ask for his help. He was respected in the neighborhood and a deacon in a local church.
When I roused him, he seemed puzzled that I wanted him to join me to try to stop the violence. Reluctantly he did agree to come with me. When we finally got our neighbor to calm down enough to open his door, I remember feeling dismayed by my landlord’s words to this man.
“Listen, my friend,” he said, “you need to find a better time to deal with your wife. It’s too late, and all the noise you’re making is keeping Mr. David awake. Show some respect.”
Ugh! This was not what I’d intended. My landlord thought I was bothered by the noise rather than the violence, which he had essentially condoned.
While it was quiet the rest of the night, I still couldn’t sleep. I kept seeing the tear-stained faces of this mother and her little children as they cowered in the corner of their one-room house.
This was only one of many moments when I felt inept and powerless to help my most vulnerable neighbors. There were children in the neighborhood enslaved in domestic servitude, dozens of families caught in extreme poverty, girls who were denied their basic rights because they were girls… They all seemed powerless to help themselves, and I felt powerless to help them.
And the more powerless I felt, the more I was tempted to despair.
In those moments I had to remind myself that there’s a difference between feeling powerless and actually being powerless. Individually we lacked the strength needed to make any lasting change, but our very weaknesses could be what pulls us together to one another. Vulnerability creates space for love to grow and draw wounded and weak people together to find healing and combined strength. In the words of St. Paul, “strength is perfected in weakness.” A few fish and loaves given in love can feed a multitude.
That’s really the story of Beyond Borders – love overcoming isolation and drawing people together to discover in their shared strength the power to break the most powerful chains.
Today, Beyond Borders is helping bring people together in just this way.
And what had seemed completely impossible in my old neighborhood is happening in communities all across Haiti now. Community by community…
- The risk of intimate partner violence – the kind of violence that I tried in vain to stop that night – is reduced community-wide by more than half.
- The poorest families are developing sustainable livelihoods and permanently breaking the generational cycle of extreme poverty.
- Children are being freed and the systems that enslaved them are being dismantled.
I am so encouraged by the transformation we’re seeing, yet I know that there is SO MUCH more work that remains. The cycle of violence and extreme poverty that I witnessed in my neighborhood persists in communities all across Haiti.
That’s why we’re launching the
Love Breaks the Chains campaign.
I know this is a lot of money, but the good news is that our friends at the Vista Hermosa Foundation will match all gifts dollar-for-dollar up to this amount.
We all have moments when we feel powerless. Allowing love to draw us to others who may feel even more powerless makes us more powerful than we can imagine. Joining this campaign is one concrete way you can do this.
I know you can’t give everything, but everything you do give will be multiplied and make a lasting difference in the lives of some of our world’s most vulnerable women, children, and families.
With deep gratitude,
Co-Founder and Executive Director
P.S. – Please don’t wait. Give now to support the Love Breaks the Chains campaign. Every dollar you donate will be matched – up to $150,000 – doubling the impact of your gift. But only until July 1st.