Two years ago today Haiti was hit with a devastating blow. Port au Prince was leveled. A country which was already third world was seemingly set back many more years with the country in shambles. With all of the news stories today chronicling the journey of Haiti and how bad things are, I’m choosing to reflect a bit differently.
Last April I was privileged enough to travel with one of our Bishops to Haiti. It was my first trip there. I had been to the Dominican Republic before, but not the other side of the island. The airport was still operating out of a hanger. The majority of it was still boarded up. Since I’d never been to Haiti before, I didn’t have a context; a “before and after”. For someone who is pretty adaptable, Haiti was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. Initially all I saw was a glass half empty. Poverty. No hope. Chaos. Those were the first few days. I spent many moments in Haiti in tears. Even as I write this post, my heart softens and eyes become damp. Everywhere I looked I saw hopelessness – overwhelming hopelessness.
Then I met the people of Haiti
- I met Pastor Devariste’, a superintendent who’s wife was severely injured and was taken to Miami. He remained in Haiti to lead the people and churches. The first time I met him, he was dressed to the nines, in a suit with his Bible in hand, a smile, hug, and joy. I found out later that week that he still lives in a tent.
- I met Jack Munos, husband of Jeanie, missionaries to Haiti. Jeanie went to be with Jesus in the earthquakes and Jack was spared. He returned to rebuild. I met a Haitian woman Jack was talking to with a beautiful baby girl. Her husband died with Jeanie while she was still pregnant. She named her baby Jeanie. She and Jack share a bond of loss. They also share the bond of new life.
- I also met Jean Marc Zamor.
He took me on a three-hour drive to show me a barren plot of land on the Dominican border with merely a sign and some meager construction and a vision for a university he’s building there. He’s finishing his Ph.D. at Regent University and plans to create a highly-educated Christian people group in Haiti through Providence University.
- Then I worshipped with the people of Haiti. One word: joy. The week I was in-country, Japan suffered it’s own natural disaster. I watched as Haitians, one of the poorest people group in the world, collected about $800 to send to Japan. Remember the story in the Bible about the poor woman who gave all she had? This felt bigger.
Is Haiti still in need? Absolutely. Will they be for years? Yes. But do they want to be viewed as victims? I don’t think so. I actually came home jealous of their joy and their faith. They actively live out the concept of daily bread. God actually comes through for them daily. It’s harder for the Father to break through the insulation of our independence.
Don’t Be Distracted
Haiti may be off of our radar as we move into the next 24 hour news cycle. But they are still there. They are our brothers and sisters. We have much to learn from each other. I think more learning from me than teaching. Below are a few of the stories and resources our denomination has been released over the past two years. Let’s not forget about our brothers and sisters. Let’s also not start thinking we’re the hope and they are poor. Remember, most of what Jesus taught was an upside-down Kingdom. Chances are, in heaven, we’ll be the ones in tent city and Haitians will be inviting us over for dinner in their mansions.
But they’ll still be doing it with joy.
- Haiti Becomes A General Conference: http://llcomm.org/2011/04/06/haiti-provisional-gc/
- Teams Assist in Haiti: http://fmcusa.org/blog/stories/team-assists-church-in-haiti-with-construction/
- Elementary Educational Efforts from International Childcare Ministries: http://fmcusa.org/blog/2012/01/10/education-is-a-work-of-love/
- A WordPress blog we setup days after the earthquake with updates, video, and more: http://www.helphaitiheal.org/
- Stories and updates from a missionary in Haiti: http://rickireland.wordpress.com/
- A way to give to the rebuilding efforts in Haiti: http://fmcusa.org/bishops-crisis-response-fund/
- Providence University (Opening Monday, January 16): http://www.uprohhaiti.com/faculte_des_sciences_education.html