Haiti’s Starfish Story: Versions 1-3

Dr. Scott Todd shares a classic story with some new twists in, “58 Fast Living: How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty.” Here’s my take on the stories he inspired, with a Haitian twist.

The Starfish story

v. 1

A man walked along the beach and saw a boy throwing starfish into the water. When he learned the boy was “rescuing” the starfish, he said, “The beach is starfishfull of these starfish, there’s no way you could ever rescue them all!” The boy replied, “I know, but I can save this one.”




Organizations around the world seek to help rescue that “one.” Admirable. Jesus went out of His way for the one, so we can too. There’s even an organization, the Starfish Foundation, inspired by this idea.


Prior to the earthquake, Haiti was the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere. Additionally, it housed the highest per capita number of non-profits as people with good intentions served people across the country. Interesting.



v. 2


The man saw the boy take a picture of a starfish with his smart phone then push a few buttons, before throwing the starfish in the water. When the man expressed doubts, the boy replied, “I know, but I just took a photo and Facebooked it, Tweeted it and even Instagrammed it. I’m hoping the need will go viral and people will come and help.” Soon, the beach was full of people who came together and rescued all of the starfish.




The people went back to work and felt good about the deed.


After the Haitian earthquake, the world came together to pray, give and help. Lives were saved, assistance from governments, non-profits and churches arrived, and many received necessary help.


The world went back to work, feeling good about the deeds.


Poverty remained.



v. 3


During version 2’s celebration, a young man stands on the shore weeping as the crowd celebrates. When asked about the tears, he said, “I’m thankful we rescued those starfish, but if we don’t learn why they washed on shore in the first place, they’ll return!”


Sobering. Smart.


We met local people who were working to purify the water coming from this old well in Haiti. They're working hard, and we'll join them.

We met local people who were working to purify the water coming from this old well in Haiti. They’re working hard, and we’ll join them.


In Haiti, people are coming together like never before (imperfectly, to be sure) to begin attacking the roots of her situation. Through Convoy of Hope, farmers are learning techniques to grow stronger crops. Missionary friends are raising up a generation to lead. The non-profits that remain are beginning to move from “relief” mode to “development” mode. The head is starting to catch up with the heart.


More awaits, but Haiti’s on a great path.



In Short-Term Missions:


     1. It’s hard to “rescue” in a week or a month. However, we can come alongside of those attacking the root and walk with them towards progress.
     2. Helping “the one” is great…especially when the help leads them to a more sustainable path.
     3. Heads and hearts working together is a fabulous thing.



What are some ways you’ve seen people work to get to the root of problems?




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