Ann Voskamp
About the Author

Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times 60 week bestseller. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
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Reader Interactions


  1. Ann,

    There aren’t any words to describe this post….so beautiful, so filled with grace, such light and truth, such conviction! I just want to keep reading it, over and over, try to let the truth of it seep into my soul….how much I need its message! This is pure poetry, Ann…not only the words here, but also your life is poetry….your heart, your spirit….it’s all poetry!! “I do not leave my kindred”–such wisdom….I have to pray that that thought will truly take root in me, so that I can try to focus more on the poor (an especially timely message for Lent!)….for they truly are our kindred, always, everywhere! Such beautiful faith in the eyes of everyone in Haiti in your photos–so much Christ in them! I remember being at a church service a year ago and the priest lamented the fact that, although we meet Christ in prayer and at church, that we don’t then go out and meet Him in the poor around the world, as we should….and your post is such a crucial reminder of how essential that truly is. I am so deeply grateful that God has given us you, to teach us by your life, witness, and through your beautiful words how we truly should seek Him!! Many blessings to you, especially as you process all your experiences from Haiti…may God continue to bless you with such zeal for and ardent love of His children in Haiti! I absolutely love your Of Women and Sisters and Family and How You Really Speak Lent and your Radical Christianity series!! This is true metanoia, true repentance and constant conversion….such grace!

  2. Sigh…….It can’t be business as usual after reading that.
    Lord, let it seep into my spirit and in the spirits in those like myself who needed to hear this loud and clear. Let what Ann has shared be the clarion call that awakes us from our complacency and self-absorbed slumber. Continue to make yourself real to each of us and give us the holy gumption to follow-through in our daily lives…Amen.

  3. Ann,
    Thank you for re-publishing this; For speaking the truth in love. Unfortunately I don’t think this will bring a thousand likes on FB. We, North American Christians quickly turn our hearts and minds away from this kind of reality! As a pro-life activist for over 25 years the most hardened hearts I have found have been inside the sanctuaries of churches.
    God bless you for challenging me even further Ann.

  4. Very refreshing and I love hearing your passion behind the words. So many people I hear who do missions somehow lack that passion, that excitement for what they do for God. Where you went is harder than I can imagine, but God uses you there. That in itself should be exciting and the anger should drive you to self-examination. I think of Haiti now when I grocery shop. Instead of feeling depressed because this is the first vacation we’ve had in two years, I think of kids like your pictures or the one in India who doesn’t get vacations. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Dear Ann, I enjoyed your stories of Haiti this week. Can’t wait to see all. I understand that it would be hard to stay and hard to leave.

  6. Thank you Ann for sharing in such a heart-felt, honest way. The words and pictures of your visit “speak”‘ the question will be , “who will listen?” From your own words, “You don’t forget who your brother is — when you know Who your Father is.”

  7. Ann,
    My friend, this post just wrecks me. Every time. After your last trip to Haiti, your posts ripped right into my heart. My family and I sponsor 2 little ones in Haiti because of your words. We are often just so unaware. Thank you for shedding light in the darkness. Thank you for you heart. We pray blessings for you and your wonderful family in Haiti now. I also pray hugs and love to the children we now write letters with. Maybe you’ll cross paths with Myrlande and Elie and share Christ’s love. Much love and thanks to you. You are one of 1000 gifts.

  8. Sweet Ann ~ you open my heart like a surgeon does, revealing everything ~ your words so descriptive and precise …… You have lived it, are living it raw and you reveal to me, to us, exactly how it makes you feel, how it should make us all feel… We aren’t all in a position to go and live and give the way you do in these areas of despair, but we can still go and be Jesus to others here in our own neighbourhoods …. We can all do this ~ we can all give ~ thank you Ann

  9. Thank you Ann…your words always challenge the fleshy parts of my heart…and I confess…this needs to penetrate my heart deeper than it does… not that I am never moved by compassion for people around me…I am…but maybe…that is the problem…I don’t have the poor around me… In my youth …i would have read this and I would “do” something and think my heart has been changed…now I know…I just need to keep bringing my heart before God and ask Him to change me… to give me His heart…because…nothing is worse than someone going to “minister” and it be all about them…I want to go…and let it be all about Him and stand next to my brothers and sisters….not above. thanks for living this when God calls you to go… prayers as you reenter…and live your daily life.

  10. The words you’ve written here are somehow exact echoes of thoughts I have had this past week. I was born to missionary parents in Bangladesh and spent most of the first eleven years of my life there. Sometimes my kids ask if I want to go back to where I was born, and I all but shudder visibly, telling them no, it’s such a difficult place. And yet I have these pictures in my mind of beggars — so many — reaching out, of swollen and malnourished bellies of tiny children, of some of the same things you’ve described here. And yet I have the audacity to look at my house and grumble inwardly about how it doesn’t look like a page from the Pottery Barn catalog like the houses of my friends. Even though I know it is really so luxurious. (I’m looking at my closet right now which is bigger than some of the plastic bag “houses” I saw right next to one of the two luxury hotels in Dhaka.)
    Thank you for writing this. I seem to always need reminding of this message.

  11. Dear, dear Ann,

    Can I say that? Can I call you ‘dear’? We’ve never met and it is highly unlikely that we ever will on this side of heaven. But you are dear to me. Your words speak right into my heart. Every. Single. Time.

    I just wanted you to know that. Your words are a gift to me. Please don’t ever stop listening to the Holy Spirit and please don’t stop writing down the gifts He gives you!

    Much love,
    Ruth Ann

  12. Dear Ann, Here is a rare opportunity for me to comment on how much the Lord blesses & inspires me through your posts, but I am pretty much dumbstruck! Thank you for taking us to Haiti through “your eyes”. May we all be faithful to remember the poor! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  13. Ann,

    I absorbed each and every word of your post.I don’t have adequate words to express to you how your compassion has touched my heart, and it is heart wrenching to see how some have to struggle with such devastation but despite that they have the will to carry on.That to me is true gratitude .
    I know that your Families presence with those that you spent time with in Haiti will be touched forever .You have gifted them with a memory of friendship .
    Thank-you for reminding us of the importance of reaching out… .


  14. Powerful. Awesome. Thank you.
    Was in Uganda for 8 weeks just after university and these are so many of my feelings then that you so beautifully put into words.
    After I read the true story, same kind of different as me, I felt the same way. Have you read it?
    Would highly recommend it to you and the follow up book, what difference do it make
    Bless you
    Thankfulness has become a theme since I started your 1000 gifts book!
    Thank you for inspiring me, my family and so so so many others!
    In joy
    Anna <

  15. Wow. This was an amazing depiction of the very thing I’ve struggled with myself. Why, God? Why did you choose us to be born in wealth?

    I can only think of one answer: so we can help the poor.

  16. Thank you for sharing your post. It brings a flood of memories from 25 yrs ago when I went Haiti with my husband. The experience never left my heart or my mind & so quickly resets me to dependency & thanksgiving.

  17. Ugly-beautiful! I am broken and sobbing in my nice warm kitchen. Much to think about; to figure out how God can use me to make a difference. As always, thank you, sweet Ann.

  18. So much truth here. And *conviction*. Thank you for that.

    I don’t want irrelevant, action-less faith. I don’t want mediocre, North American church-going, happy-smiles-on kind of faith. I don’t want to settle for that.

    I want radical faith. I want real action. I want radical, transforming faith that moves mountains. Mountains of the heart. I want the kind of faith that takes care of the orphans and widows and loves on people no matter who they are or where they live.

    May God transform us to be honest seekers of Him, lovers of His Word, Truth-bearers in the darkness and women whose faith moves the mountains of this world, with His amazing, all-encompassing, powerful Love.

  19. I have been asking God to give me the desires of His heart lately. Just 1 hour ago I read this scripture: James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Ann, your post brought me to tears. This my friend is the reason we are here. This is the desire of God’s heart for us that “have” to share with those that don’t. Thank you for your words. As always, tender words of love, piercing us to conviction.

  20. Love your journal while in Haiti . We are very involved in compassion work in several countries. Haitian children after the earthquake just drew us to that country and thru our friend who workers for compassion was contacted and we were able to financially help children and families connected to the compassion ministry have help and needs meant and help with the local on going work there. To say all that I am unable to travel even with my husband along side due to health so your journal are my eyes and ears for this time you are there. Praying for your family safety and ministry. Blessings Linda

    • I know Ann well enough to suggest that her answer to your question would be – yes.
      Righteous anger at the pain of the poor and the hungry, and guilt for the excessive consumption of North American Christians. We use and abuse many of the gifts that God has given us, with very little thought about sharing them with others.

      Ann’s just gotten home, and has to readjust to being Moses to her kin. “You don’t forget who your brother is — when you know Who your Father is.” -> but this doesn’t make it easy to share the Good News with those who are so full of physical riches that they can’t see their own need.

      Please don’t ever consider taking a missionary, home on furlough, to a restraunt with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Sometimes too much is Just. Too. Much.

      You are touched by Ann’s writing, but I question – what will you do with how you are feeling? What will I do?

      • I, too, would have to answer yes.. to all of it. Angry for the poor and their suffering. Angry at myself because it is so hard to think on it and see it..I don’t want to see it…I want to pretend it doesn’t exist. Guilt..oh yes.. I am guilty in all that I am blessed by…undeserved, unbidden and oh, so comfortable. I am guilty of not wanting to deal with the ugly of this world. But I am a child of God’s first and most important. He calls me to look and feel and do. It is in the stretching of my heart to encompass the the uncomfortable, that I most show His love and grace.

  21. I am so thankful to know there are other who feel the same way I do. I am very greatful for this today. I have such a hard time with so many of these same thoughts… Why do I have a warm home where I can stand in the kitchen and make vegetable soup with my mom and sister while the snow comes down and the kids sit at the table completing their school work? I know we will all get together tonight and eat it in front of the fire place warm and cozy. I also know that my brothers friend will go home tonight and head straight to his room to avoid contact with his parents and he won’t go to bed with a warm bowl of soup in stomach. I also know a sick baby is suffering alone in daycare today while mom and dad choose to work and all the baby wants it to be held and comforted by mommy. And a 9year old little girl will be at home hoping her 12 year old nephew doesn’t throw the dog against the wall of their trailor. I pray for them and hope that the short amount of time they spend with me is enought to change things for future generations and the cycle of proverty. And still the thought haunts me of why was I so lucky to be born into a caring loving family? We’re not wealthy but are needs are met. And I feel guilty wanting and having things. Am I doing enough to help? I will pray for you, Ann. Thank you for sharing your story…

  22. when i read postings like this i think :

    they’re the blessed ones because they hide the Word in their hearts & it nourishes them where we go get it from a page and sometimes starve.

    • Wow… As I sit here surrounded by my Bible and devotionals, I realize, I’m starving. Just glancing at a platter of food does not give me what I need to be full and energized. I must take it in, swallow it down. And this is when my heart is stirred. Thank you, Deborah, for your insight.

  23. Thank you, Ann, for reminding me today that things are about more than just me and my life. My heart breaks for what you saw, and especially now that you are back home and sorting through all your thoughts.

  24. These are exactly the feelings that led my husband and I to adopt internationally. We can’t help them all, but we can help 1 or maybe 2 orphans by giving them a family.

  25. Tears streaming down my face… Thank you Ann for such a wonderful post and the reminder that we are to use what we have to help others. It is so easy to be protective of what we have and forget that when we are generous it comes back to us many times over! I admire the courage you had to take your family on this journey!

  26. We have all read this. We are all responsible to make a choice now. Pray and seek God with all your heart on what He wants of you. It might not look exactly like Ann, but Jesus requires that each of us care for the widow, orphaned and desolate. As Katie Davis said, “Jesus does not ASK that we care for the less fortunate. He demands it!” May the scales fall off of our eyes. May we look under our tables and see Lazarus. God, in His goodness, is giving us the opportunity to be His hands and feet. Let’s go! Let’s deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him!

  27. Reading this takes me back. I was in Haiti last year with Compassion and was so blessed to be lead through Haiti with Johnny also. What a tremendous gift he has. It was great to see his face in one of your photos. Thank you for sharing this on so many levels. It is such an amazing country with beautiful people filled with so much hope! What an experience. I feel like I am the one that was blessed by being there when I’m the one that went to bless. How beautiful God is in the turning around of your story that you think you’re writing for yourself.

  28. Thought provoking. When I have my degree, will I be willing to go to the slums, to serve those the world sees as the least of these, whose faith is sometimes the greatest of these? Am I willing to leave comfort and be a comfort, to change and be changed? Am I willing to do with less now so that more can be given later? Am I willing to allow God to transform me now?

  29. A bench in a mud hut was my church pew as I grew up. My parents were missionaries and I watched the little girl I played with hold her baby brother out to pee in the mud floor during church, because he had no diapers on. I still don’t know, Ann, why God chose to put me in the family that I have. I know I am so thankful for my “Third World” childhood. Is it wrong that my heart breaks as much for the poverty of spirit here in this comfortable world? Your anger rips holes in the insulation we have padded around our selves. May His Spirit blow through the holes!

  30. Dear Ann…please don’t stop reminding us of life outside of our comfortable North American lives…because of your original post our family is sponsoring a young boy in Haiti. God put you where He did so He could use you as a tool to do His work. Because you said “YES” to God, so many families in Haiti have been touched by the work of Compassion. May this post lead many more to make the decision to give up one small material item at home each month to sponsor a child. May God bless you and your family and bring you safely home. Hugs…

  31. In order to witness the story and maintain health and strength to continue to effectively serve others “… suit up, show up, do the work, let go of the outcome…. We are responsible for the stitch, not the whole pattern…. Do the next right and good thing. Turn the outcome over to God.” Quotes taken from “All That is Bitter and Sweet” by Ashley Judd.

  32. And Jesus… He CHOSE… to leave all… a much starker contrast than Northern comfort to Haiti. He chose to leave it all and become one of us, like us, gave his life for us. What should WE do? Are we willing to give all for HIM…? Do what He did?

  33. I will save this to read and reread and to share. Just today I had the same thought as I left the suburbs in my large SUV and drove towards the city. Thoughts of the people in that city and what they were born into and what I was born into. My life has been FAR from easy, but still way more comfortable, way way more comfortable. I doubt I will ever travel to one of these place because of my past health issues, so Ann, thank you for bringing it to us. Thank you for being the hands and feet to a place that I can’t reach. And thank you for the sharing of your processing. Oh but for the grace of God go all of us.

  34. We have children through Compassion, and I get frustrated that money and prayers, sometimes seem like thin broth, when they need twice baked potatoes. But it is something–it is not forgetting, and it is not covering them with up in our own business.

    I get angry at the government that cannot, or does not, love its own people enough to make a difference in their lives. Can they not at least try harder?

    I don’t know.

    There are so many children on the compassion list. If only everyone would just pick one – then maybe there would not be a list at all.

    Thank you, Ann, for reminding us. Thank you, (In)Courage for posting her blog.

  35. Ann, a friend sent me this today. Not sure how I missed it at (in)courage but I am glad she remembered me. My 16 year old son and I leave March 22, for Haiti. The past two days I have submerged myself online in every Haitian story I can find. Crying. Knowing my heart is about to be broken in ways I know I cannot fathom right now. In ways I won’t be able to explain when we return. Thank you for writing about your trip and sharing your truth. I will be there soon and I am scared for the changes I believe God is making and putting into place with this missions trip. I also ask for prayer as we go. I’ve never been anywhere. My first international travel is to Haiti. For some reason for the past ten years I have felt called to Haiti and I haven’t known why or how… I think the reveal is near.

    • I posted below, but I also wanted to respond directly to you. My first international trip was to Haiti also, and I had been there for three days when the earthquake struck. Before the trip, I was in a spiritually dry place and I journaled my prayer for God to use the upcoming experience to “shake up my world.” Little did I know how that prayer would be answered! Not that I think there will be another earthquake while you are there, but I have no doubt that God will do something, reveal something, during this time. My humble advice for you is to enter this experience with open hands, ready to receive what God has for you. Try to keep your expectations low, your eyes and mind and heart open, and just take it all in. There will be a lot to process, there and surely after you return home. I trust you will be with an organization who has an on-the-ground, long-standing ministry in Haiti. Look at the work they do, the people who’s lives they touch, and focus on how you can be a part of that. If you look at all the needs in Haiti, you can easily go to a place of feeling overwhelmed. And you can’t make a difference everywhere. But you can make a difference in one place, perhaps in just one life – and if we all did that, just touched one or two or a few, real change can happen. May God bless your time exceedingly more than all you can think or imagine.

  36. So grateful for your expression, for your ability to put into words the whiplash! May God draw our hearts to walk with Him, be grateful for what we are are given, and seek to give it all away! I’m privileged to walk side by side with very poor brothers and sisters in St. Louis’s inner city – teaching young and old to read, listening to their stories of life, and daily remembering that my birth offered me a lot of “rewards”. Praying to stay in that sacred place of sharing and learning. My urban family has so much to teach me every day! I feel the whiplash often on my drive home or in trying to relay needs to people who want to give. Thanks for your openness and your gift to express in words the tension of it all. Hugs to you!

  37. I’ve had it on my heart that I want to do missions work for 8 years now. With little kids at home, I never knew how to go about it or if I should wait until they are older.

    • Jenn, I would suggest getting the whole family involved in supporting a Compassion child. It was such a moving experience doing this together as a family: saving our money to send each month, writing letters to our sponsored child, praying together for her. It will be an experience in spiritual growth and compassion that your children can begin to learn at an early age. Don’t wait! Your children will be grown before you know it, and you will have missed this amazing opportunity. You will also be surprised at the seeds for missions and ministry it will plant in your children’s hearts. Blessings to you.

  38. Your post is truly beautiful and I totally understand your feelings. But I feel the need to express something that many will not want to hear – you see – I could be the smiling picture of the people in Central Park. Sending money month after month – and not seeing any difference – none of the promises made through World Vision that my money would be used to feed, bring clean water, educate. Month after month of scribbles – not even letters – and a letter written by a volunteer to the host family to keep the money coming. There was tons of money going to Haiti – but we merely lined the corrupt government’s pockets. I don’t have a solution for sin – the intrinsic evil of this world. I’m sure the actual work you did there had value and you made a difference – but writing a check doesn’t really make a difference – and we’re deluding ourselves if we think it does. These organizations need to be held accountable.

    • I totally agree. What I would love to see is churches all over North America PRAYING for these countries, and PRAYING for their governments. Oftentimes the aid money has poured in, and ended up in the pockets of govt. officials. Read “Toxic Charity” — highly recommend!!

      • Just started reading Toxic Charity this morning! Looking forward to what it has to say, although somewhat fearful, too, as I suspect it will mess with my head. Especially as Americand, we want the quick fix – and there just isn’t one. Another good read is When Helping Hurts.

    • Actually I’m not angry. I feel guilty for being human and having so many limitations. I don’t know why God has blessed some and not others but I would rather spend my days being thankful for all that God has given me vs angry I’m not where I think I should be. God has a plan for each of us. Don’t ever underestimate what you are doing now as a mother.

      • Ann…oh wow…my heart is clinched tight and now I have to figure out what to do with it all…oh this is such the challenge-to do as God has called us…

        And Katie, I think this is where you find your answer to your question. I think God blessed others so that those people could bless the ones who need it. No one should starve in this world. There is enough to go around. No one should be homeless (unless they choose it and some do) because there is enough to go around…We have to have open hands. Open hearts. Good government. He expects those He’s given to-to give back. No one should go without ever knowing God’s love…because we’re supposed to share it. His word. His sacrifice. His Son.
        I’m preaching to the choir.

        We must MOVE-be His hands and feet.

  39. No truer words were ever spoken or written.

    In light of the severe poverty of the world–and there is much–All we can do is what God puts on our hearts. I sponsor a little girl from Ninos De Mexico. Also I do what I can for our own local folks. People right here in the county need assistance of one kind or another.

    Do what you can, when you can, as often as you can for as many as you can!

  40. You’re so right – our life is our answer. I have been convicted of this and challenged after being in Ethiopia several times in the past few years. How easily we can justify our lifestyles without thought of anyone else. What in my life needs to die (change) so that others can live?
    This post reminds me of part of the song The Face of Christ by Chris Rice, “See you had no choice which day you would be born, Or the color of your skin, or what planet you’d be on, Would your mind be strong, would your eyes be blue or brown, Whether daddy would be rich, or if momma stuck around at all”

  41. thank you for sharing! thank you, ann, for letting us travel a bit with you, think and feel this with you. i love the picture you painted for us with words and pictures of the boys in the water. absolutely precious. may we learn through the grace of the Holy Spirit to rely on His Life in us with whatever/whoever He puts before us, because apart from Christ’s Life, we all are ugly and poor, no matter how socially acceptable, no matter what nation. and in this way we really are the same. much love to you all.

  42. Your words dig themselves deep into my soul. I’ve asked these questions too. I’ve hated what I do and yet I do it anyways. I know dear friends who need food in Uganda, and yet, I sometimes choose to put my focus elsewhere. To worry about the kids and the laundry and the this and that. When our family had to cancel our trip to Uganda last month, my heart broke but another part of my was relieved. Relieved I didn’t have to bring my three small children with me on what I knew would be a life-changing, heart-breaking and dangerous trek. I hate admitting it, but it is truth. There are days I block out the truth that wants to smack me in the face – I am greedy. I am selfish. I like comfort. I am rich. I am like the rich young ruler. No matter how modestly I ‘think’ I live, I am a queen in this Western palace and I need to (desperately NEED to) come down off the throne and bow low at the throne of God. We need to ask Him how He would have us live. How He can shape our days and rework our hearts so we’d be willing to surrender all. We have an enemy who longs to pull us from everything that matters. Ignorance is a first line of attack, and when ignorance is no longer there, complacency pushes his way in. Thank you, Ann for these life-altering words today and for sharing your experiences, however raw, with us. You are a blessing… and your words open eyes and hearts and point them toward Jesus. Cassandra @

  43. Thank you for sharing your experience! I can relate with your anger. I can relate to the guilt. I’m wondering if you were able to bring back real ways, real ideas on HOW to help more. I’ve been questioning, praying, pleading for opportunities. Real ones. Yes, we sponsor, but that $38 a month, as you’ve shown, isn’t moving mountains and I don’t care for that drop in the bucket to just make me warm and fuzzy about my good deed so I can go on living in luxury and pretending like I helped someone. I’m tired of the “sacrifice” and “helping” that give a pat on the back, but doesn’t supply. Short of moving to live in and with these needy, were you able to discover specific needs that can be met from ordinary people like me? Thank you for spurring us on! Your words are always convicting or encouraging… usually both.

  44. Ann–I just love you. Somehow you find words for what is rolling around in my heart. I share in every single lament and anger-at-yourself in this post. I am sick to death of my apathy and obsession with things that mean nothing, when there is a world outside my window, waiting for me to respond. I am rapidly changing my opinion on what a happy life looks like. Love to your sweet family this week as you’re serving His beloved in Haiti. xoxo

  45. Ann, I understand the feelings of anger. We served in ministry in West Africa for 10 years. Sometimes we need to be angry and let that motivate our reactions to poverty. But I want to tell you more. After the anger, I grew to know and love our African brothers and sisters in Christ, not because of pity, but because of who they were, who God created them to be and how He was working in their lives. It was when we had very little on the mission field that I knew more fully that I am a child of God, loved by my community and redeemed by grace. I learned so much from the humble faith of those around me. Keep asking the hard questions, get to know Johnny and others like him who are serving God in tough conditions and see how joyful they are. Pray for them, pray for how God can use you today and bring us along for the journey. I think your Holy Experience is just beginning. 🙂

  46. 1994 I first went to Haiti and have gone there and returned here to SC many, many times since. I read your blog I understand though I will never understand like my Haitian friends understand. I’m to tired to be angry, to tired to try and convince anyone, to tired to even talk about Haiti anymore. I woke up in the middle of the night after returning from my first trip crying like a baby. I actually woke my wife up. I’ve been accused of having a heart only for Haiti with room for no one, not even God, at least that is what He told me one night while I lay in the woods angry and frustrated. I wonder why we throw cookies at people, to make ourselves content. I bought a dirt cookie in a market in PaP for a nickel, sent half of it to a pastor friend in South Africa. I recognized I became a master to a young man and he became a servant and then I realized I had bred his dependency on me by thinking I was helping him when all I was doing was buying him. I have asked over and over again, ‘How dare you build your ministry on the backs of the poor?’ Only to realize I to am guilty of the same. Haiti is beautiful. Haitians are wonderful. Poverty is a pastor whose wife is in the States with his two little children and he is in Haiti because the earthquake separated them and He can not come here and she does not want to live in Haiti. They will not give him a visa and she …. well Haiti is a tough place for wives and children….. Actually Haiti two months ago claimed the father of an 19 year old friend of mine. The tumor in his brain could not be treated there and he was not granted a visa to come to a hospital here in the States. Haiti America’s Sunday School afternoon backyard project. … Keep the people poor and needy and then we have something to do… More Christians saved in weekly crusaded in Haiti than Haitians living in Haiti at least that is the message conveyed in our churches after our huge crusades. 1000’s and 1000’s walked the aisle. Leave the trash in the streets. It produces foreign aid you know…. I guess what bothers me the most … is me and my inability to really help to bring hope to hopeless young lives…

  47. Thank you for sharing; this is such an inspiration to all of us. Your post is very heart breaking. My husband and I hope to make trips to Haiti with our church to build an education center. This makes me even more determined. When I think that we easily pay $5 for a cup of coffee and think nothing of it, I’m convicted when I see these pictures. We recently read a book by David Platt, “Radical, Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.” It is awesome. After reading your post, I did some research on where the BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars went from the U.S. (people like us and the government) as well as from around the world. Such a tiny portion of it went to the Haiti people. This angers me. Even the American Red Cross (CEO salary is $500,000 a year) has not done much either. As Christians, we need to be sure that we are not giving to these organizations who are frivolous with money meant for these poor people. It seems the Church is the one doing the most to reach these people, not just for the material things in this life, but also their souls. WE need to continue and not give up. Thank you again for your encouragement. God Bless!!!

  48. Ann,

    Thank you for sharing your heart. Those words, as I read them felt as if they were coming from my own heart. Feelings that I have not known how to share or how to express since I returned from a short little trip to Africa that unexpected tore my whole life upside down. You have such a graceful way of expressing the immense turmoil that has consumed my heart since I have returned home to my privilege way of life that I had for so long taken for granted.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles. Thank you for being so honest and for speaking the words that most are unwilling to hear…. Because like you said we all will respond. And once we have seen we are responsible for what we do about what we have seen.

    You and your beautiful family are in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. You are a much bigger blessing then you will ever realize here on this earth.

  49. Ann,
    Thank you for sharing your heart. Those words, as I read them felt as if they were coming from my own heart. Feelings that I have not known how to share or how to express since I returned from a short little trip to Africa that unexpected tore my whole life upside down. You have such a graceful way of expressing the immense turmoil that has consumed my heart since I have returned home to my privilege way of life that I had for so long taken for granted.
    Thank you for sharing your struggles. Thank you for being so honest and for speaking the words that most are unwilling to hear…. Because like you said we all will respond. And once we have seen we are responsible for what we do about what we have seen.
    You and your beautiful family are in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. You are a much bigger blessing then you will ever realize here on this earth.

  50. Once again, Ann, your words perfectly reflect my heart. I have spent the last week with a camera in my face, and tears in my eyes, reflecting on how God has entwined our lives with the the lives of a group of Shan people. What a sacred mystery.

    Thought of you when one of our Shan staff taught the book of Esther this am, and I read this:
    (Esther 10:3) For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.

    When we seek the welfare of our people and speak peace to God’s people, God exalts us. It is an honorable thing.

    God bless you as you seek the welfare of his people – your people!

  51. How can life every be the same, the truth is it shouldn’t be for any of us.

    I have never visited Haiti but after spending sometime with a young woman who had been sponsored by compassion or in her words saved by compassion I cannot be the person I was before the knowledge.

    I struggle so much with the first world issues that the anger eats at my soul, issues I don’t know issues.

    Ann my heart is breaking with you.

  52. I have been to Haiti. I took a cruise which stopped there. It was probably good as it added much needed income. I saw the huts, and open streams running between them. I also
    saw children, clean, hair done and in uniform, ready for school. I admired their mothers.
    We took horses (ponies really) up the hill to a citadel. I was built at the cost of many lives to protect their island from Napoleon. He never came back.
    While at the fort (citadel) we were served boxed lunches. As is usual for the well fed, all was not eaten. Looking down the hill, I witnessed people enjoying the cast offs. Say what you will, they enjoyed and I was glad to see it.
    What the French robbed from this country is unforgivable. The other side of the island is completely different.
    Bless the Haitians that have been taken advantage of, and steered the wrong way..

  53. ‘Ministry to the poor is not merely giving things.
    It is giving self.
    It is not just relief.
    It’s relationship.’

    Ann! I read that quote by a christian author and quickly wrote it in my bible to be a constant reminder. Thank you so much for incarnating it for me yet again! Prayers for you and your family as you share God’s love in Haiti. Heaven will tell how the poor of this earth will end up eternally blessed! Hugs❤

  54. I feel so different about this. When your son expressed his gratefulness for being born where he was born and not there, he was right. Where is the REST in all your attitudes? Where is the GRATEFULNESS? What is this Questioning of our God and the choice He made to put you where you are and others where they are? Yes. Help, but don’t question God . Rest in Him. Thank Him. Thank Him for His glorious Son Jesus Christ. Because He is the only real in our lives.” Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”
    We, we, I, I. Anger? Trust in your God. He will lead you in the way you should go and be grateful for how He blesses you so much. He’s got this people. No matter how it may look to you.

    • I see where you’re coming from… sometimes the questions in our hearts need to be asked and brought out in honesty before God before we can from the depth of our hearts, embrace his Rest and Peace and that He is good all the time, even when we don’t understand… The anger is NOT the end… it is being honest and grappling with issues in order to find God in a deeper way. I think at least… 🙂 God bless you all and fill with His Peace and Rest!! Blessings!

  55. I first traveled to Haiti last summer. I know the torment that stirs to the marrow…once you’ve seen, heard, touched. I was prepared for the smells of poverty and hunger. I was NOT prepared to come home and think of little else. The small victims of circumstance had been engrained into my head. I’d awaken each night to little brown faces, bright white smiles and the most beautiful chocolate eyes. I HAD to do something. I WILL NOT accept depraved indifference from myself or myfamily any longer. It’s time to walk the talk.

    We are in the process of adopting…TWO! Little Haitians.

  56. Dearest Ann,

    I stand on your “giant” shoulders and attempt to walk in your shadow. You are phenomenal! Have loved your heart for many years now. So grateful!

  57. dear ann, thank you for these words. . .i have traveled to Haiti each year since the earthquake for medical mission work and your heart speaks my heart and my anger and my sadness.. . .the saying ‘there but by the grace of God go I. . . .’ where does this come from????? that God would chose to grace me and not my brother or sister?????
    My heart is full of the ache and pain of my brothers and sisters in Haiti but it is also full of the love and joy and spirit that I see and feel each time I go to Port-au-Prince and work side by side with my brothers and sisters. Thank you for so eloquently saying what I have felt, and feel. . . .blessings!!

  58. In January 2010, I had the incredible blessing of being in Haiti when the earthquake struck. I say “blessing” because in the midst of an experience that was both horrendous and beautiful at the same time, my heart was broken open, and my life will never be the same. God has faithfully walked me through open doors of opportunity to love on people and help in small, yet somehow significant, ways. In ten trips to Haiti, I have not even come close to wrapping my mind around what God’s purpose is in all of this, but I do know without a doubt – it is something. So, I continue to go, loving every minute of it and overflowing with a deep longing to make a difference. And isn’t that what we are all called to do ? Whether it be in Haiti or Uganda or Mexico or right around the corner, we are here to be Jesus’ skin through our presence and our love and our resources so that the place where we are will be a little different, a little better, because we were there. Thank God that He sees fit to use broken, ordinary people like me to be part of His extraordinary plan to bring restoration to this world. And thank God that we know that his plan never fails.

  59. I’m wondering if I dare say the unpopular. While I have great respect for you and enjoy reading your blog and book, I struggle a little with this topic of the poor. It seems we are easily drawn to children across oceans, but what about the children in our own towns? My heart aches for those in my neighborhood who don’t know Jesus, caught in the grips of parents’ busy lifestyles, where they are neglected and pushed aside. It is not an obvious need. I have no pictures of rags, cardboard houses, or big drooping eyes. But what I do have is eyes that look at me each week, searching for truth. Eyes that scream for boundaries and a parent who will give them attention. Eyes longing for a hero to demonstrate what life is meant to be in Christ. The poverty in other countries is real, but there is a poverty in our own country which runs just as deep. A spiritual poverty disguised in wealth. I’m not saying we should neglect the poor, but in doing so, let’s not forget the reasons God places us here–to impact the people within the vicinity of our everyday lives (and abroad) with the message of salvation.

    • Dearest Jewel,
      I couldn’t agree more, sister, with your wise, good words. Yes, yes, yes. As I wrote in One Thousand Gifts — serving in urban centres right next door to our home (for us, Toronto), and then serving with another family throughout the year in a ministry to new refugees, meeting their physical, emotional, spiritual needs, serving every week as a family in our community outreach to kids, family Bible Study with monthly service projects in our own community. My heart beats right. with. yours. Jewel …. I desperately pray that what I blog is all about the gospel, right where I am, about radical, right where we are, about the love of Christ wherever He has called us, that His name may be exalted at home and among the nations…. Praying with you, Jewel.

      Humbly in Him,

  60. Ann,

    Thank you for your writing. I look forward to reading your book.

    I understand the feeling of anger. In partiular, the anger that God must feel over how little the church of Jesus Christ does for the poor. I don’t see how God could have been more clear in his Word as to the call to care for/partner with the poor.

    I’ve been to Haiti twice. The first trip was at the epicenter of the earthquake. We sponsor children in Haiti through a local parachurch organization, Mission E-4. Our household is blessed with two adopted children of color.

    Your post has me reflecting on my feelings. Thankful for the people of Haiti. Eager to return (especially after viewing your pictures). Longing for the day when poverty is no more. My strongest feeling is sadness that I can’t do more. I work with homeless Veterans. My part-time job is as a counselor with people struggling with addiction. I’m the interim pastor at our church. I long to do more. It doesn’t feel like enough. It never feels like enough. Not to earn my salvation or to assuage feelings of guilt, but a holy longing to make more of a difference. A heart after God’s heart.

    My eighteen year-old daughter, Liz, is in nursing school after six trips to Haiti and being with me at the epicenter of the earthquake. She is called to be a Peacecorp nurse in Africa. My wife and I are very proud of her.

    In Christ,


  61. Thank you so much for this. My husband and I are the founders of Go MAD Ministries in the Dominican Republic and lately I have been feeling this anger and frustration. Even though we work in the mission field, I want to do more but at times want to run far, far away! I feel so blessed to work with the amazing Dominican and Haitian people but the need is so great and I feel very helpless and small. I want others to be as broken as I am about the pain and hopelessness that I see everyday. I want them to join the fight against human exploitation that happens due to extreme poverty and the lack of education and documentation. Your very raw writing about your very human desire to enjoy our North American life with the contrast of the cry of your soul and the screaming of the Spirit, is my life. Thank you for putting it into words.

  62. Your words and pictures a beautiful. I resonate with your observation that so much depends on where you happen to be born. I have been to Haiti twice, and I think more than anger I feel sadness. There is one sponsored child we have that we have actually been able to meet, and we started sponsoring her when she started school at 5 (5 years ago). My heart cracks when we get pictures of her because she is always so serious and un-childlike in her expression.

    Your pictures in particular have made me want to return. Although I, too, question the justice of some of God’s people living out their lives under a tarp in the middle of the highway meridian in Haiti while others of us are able to live in such comfort, I continue to be struck my the attitude of the Haitian people that I have been able to meet. The sheer joy that the Haitian Christians I was with show during worship contrasts starkly with the American Christians I have heard mumbling through “Joy to the World.” Of course, it also contrasts starkly to my own attitude toward my life’s “frustrations” as I live with my plentiful food and medical care.

  63. Part of me wants to jump right on a plane and go…somewhere. But it is Christ I follow, and His lead takes me…here. The poor, the desperate, the unloved…I could go on and on, but I want to shout, “They are here!” The Guatamalins here in the tiny town I live 15 miles from, the pleas in the local newspaper for toilet paper! How can I close my eyes to that? Jewel names children without direction, care…the need is everywhere and forever, and the cry is for Jesus. Yes, we need to care for the poor, but Jesus said he came to bind up the broken-hearted, to release the captive…there is always something for His body to do. So…Just. Do. It. Whatever it is, wherever you are, but follow where He leads…just ask Him. He will tell you. Thank you Ann for your heart, your care, your family…blessings on all of you. Love, Karen

  64. “Your life is always your answer.” What a powerful, haunting phrase. From your description, Haiti is remarkably similar to Ethiopia, where my heart grew several sizes on a trip three years ago. Thanks for your words!

  65. Once again, thanks, Ann, for your touching words. I struggled to support a girl in Columbia through Compassion in my High School & college years and have often thought it would be a wonderful experience to do so again now with my children. To let them see, a small glimpse of life outside. I’m sure we could do it. Just need to talk to construction-husband about how. A challenge. A good one. If we all could sponsor one or two?

  66. This speaks right to where my heart is. Right now. This. And how often I choose comfort over Christ. Sigh… Praying for Holy Righteousness to raise my apathy right up off the floor of my heart!

  67. I couldn’t make it all the way through reading…my tears wouldn’t let me. I just returned from my own mission trip to Haiti and fully understand the struggles. If I may copy some of you words, they express what my heart wants to share with my own congregation in a few days….I want to shout out to them to open your eyes and your hearts….get out of your comfort zones!!!!! But will they? Only God knows.

  68. […] I would like to end by quoting one of my wife’s favorite authors whom also had a similar experience in Haiti. “I’m angry that I’ve seen and I’m ashamed that I am angry and I’m angry that I’ve seen and now I am responsible. More than respons-able – we’re response-bound. Once we have seen the poor, we are responsible — we will make a response. As long as your heart is beating, there’s no such thing as unresponsive. We all look into the face of the poor and it’s either Yes, I will help. Or no, I won’t….We’re either responding with indifference or with intercession, either with apathy or aid.” —ANN VOSKAMP you can read her whole article here  […]

  69. Hi Ann
    I just reread your Haitian blog and came across the picture of Johnny. My husband and I were in Haiti in November of last year with Galcom solar powered radio distribution in villages around Cap Haitian. One Mission Society regularly purchases these radios we make (I work at Galcom Int in Hamilton ON) and they work with a christian radio station called 4VEH. Hence the opportunities to take radios in our luggage. Our newest version has capacity for several radio stations and a chip usually with the Haitian creole bible; when they go to Haiti.
    Dan & I stayed on for several days to go to the southwest of the island where our compassion child lives. Johnny did not meet us as we had a driver arranged from Radio Lumiere in P. o P. So much sadness in the city even two years later. It was overwhelming altho I have been in third world countries before. I was deeply touched by Johnny’s story. I had wondered about him. It was truly wonderful to see the project, school, and our child is being educated so I guess the opportunities vary depending on the region.
    I leave you with my thanks for the way you describe things with words. So much resonates within me. And the return to our comfortable life is really a challenge for us. Dan said when he reported to our church that he wanted to make them jealous of our visit to a compassion child as some of them also have sponsor children.
    I shall enjoy reading some of your other blogs sometime.
    Alice Cover God bless you Ann