Two months ago I met Paige Tyler for coffee. She had a story to tell me. The story started with her own faith journey and, to my surprise, concluded in Haiti. Paige worships at DOWNTOWN CHURCH, but she hasn't been sitting around waiting for us to tell her how to be the church in the world.
Who is Paige?
Paige serves with Haiti Under God, an organization based in the US that coordinates and supports a variety of ministries for poor, hungry, and orphaned Haitians. Paige has a special call to support a HUG home for orphaned girls. Her support isn't from a distance, she's traveled to Haiti numerous times, she knows the girls by name, and now she's inviting others to partner with her and HUG to be the church in Haiti.
What is Paige doing?
Paige is training to complete an Ironman triathlon, something she's never done before, in support of the girls in Haiti. She'll swim, bike, and run in the name of her girls and will raise $15,000 along the way to support them.
How will her church respond?
Paige didn't ask for permission or wait for someone to tell her what to do. She sensed a call and started a small movement. She did this work, and then invited DOWNTOWN CHURCH to be a partner, which we did by giving HUG an Ironbeliever $1500 from our missions fund.
We are also offering an opportunity for you to join Paige by snatching an ornament from the shoe tree that will be at worship on Sunday. Each ornament has the name and shoe size of one of Paige's girls. Take an ornament and bring back shoes on May 11 to worship.
Q and A with Paige
What does a new pair of shoes mean to one of the girls?
Good question and I will ask them next time I see them. What I think it means for them is consistency and security. It has been a beautiful thing to watch them “know” it will be provided, not in any kind of ungrateful way, but in a way they can enjoy being young girls without grown-up worries. They become giddy with excitement when they have new school stuff like shoes and new backpacks.
How did you first get inspired to serve in this way?
I wanted, needed, to do something outside of myself, not something temporary or short-term. I really wanted to commit and give more than I anything I had. In 2009, I rededicated and renewed my faith in Christ. I was baptized in 2010. I began to rearrange my life to live more simply, serve more fully, give more generously and to help others in whatever shape and degree possible. I’ve come a long way, but there’s still more to come.
Why do you continue to work for this cause?
I’m a Jesus lover and these are the people that Jesus most cared about. After I first went to Haiti and especially meeting and interacting with the 17 girls, it seemed to work in my heart in a way that has never left. Being with people that literally have nothing, third world poverty nothing, yet somehow willing to help and give generously to you. How do you do this? It has to be something inside. I feel closer to God when I’m there. Literally, like I can almost touch Him. I keep seeing ways to do more and keep trying to figure out ways to make it happen. I’ve noticed the “why” keeps growing and changing. I don’t know that it is ever really fully answered.
How has serving others impacted your life personally?
It has completely changed my life. I feel gratitude all the time even for the smallest things. I don’t see anything the same; infrastructure, education, government services, disease, medical care, jobs, church, relationships, good & evil. I feel guilty sometimes that I don’t want or need the things that society tells me I should want or be who it says I should be. It’s a struggle, but I’m 98% sure I’m inside God’s will on this. It keeps life in perspective, it helps to keep me humble.