December 7, 2012
Facilities face closure because 80 percent of 'orphans' have at least one living parent.
According to the New York Times, many Haitian orphans "aren't orphans at all." At least, not in the traditional sense.
December 7, 2012
Facilities face closure because 80 percent of 'orphans' have at least one living parent.
According to the New York Times, many Haitian orphans "aren't orphans at all." At least, not in the traditional sense.
February 25, 2010
Pastor Frank Amedia gives background on his comments to the Associated Press.
Yesterday’s Associated Press report on Christian-Voodooist tensions in Haiti was shocking enough. One group interrupted another’s religious service (there are of course differences in perspective on who “started it”) and eventually Christians in Cite Soleil destroyed the Voodooists’ religious objects. “Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols,” Paisley Dodds reported. “When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.”
But later in the story, the comments from Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries were perhaps more surprising: “We would give food to the needy in the short term but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel.”
A Christian aid organization demanding conversions in exchange for food is a rare thing in the 21st century. It’s bad theology, bad missiology, and impractical (“rice Christians” tend to be nominal at best). So it’s rare to see such a stark suggestion that non-converts could be “cut off” from aid.
But late yesterday Amedia said his comments weren’t so stark after all. On his organization’s Touch Haiti Now site, he wrote:
Let me be clear that we have not and do not judge the need of someone we can help by the measure of their faith. Not once have we qualified a single person prior to giving them what we had, nor is this a program standard for our assistance during the crisis mode of this mission. … We do visit and qualify the organization or “camp” that is requesting assistance to do our best to assure that the supplies actually make it to those who are in need, and are not pilfered or re sold.
What was not included in this AP report was the essential body of my comments. I explained that our commission as ministers of the Gospel is to have compassion on whomever we can, to respond to their need with what we have. I responded to a direct question from Paisley which asked: “What would I do if I knew the person in need was a voodoo worshipper?” I responded that we would help them, but that everything we do is for the Glory of God and that we are committed to share our hearts. She then expanded her question to ask “Would I continue to help them knowing they were still practicing Voodoo?” I responded that I would show them our love by helping them and that I would hope to become their friend, and then as their friend, that our compassion and love might be the difference to lead them to Christ. She then asked “How long would we continue to supply them?” To that I answered that “I am not sure we could continue to support them in the long term because we would not want to perpetuate that process. We equate [voodoo] with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel.”
Let there be no doubt that the love of God is our driving force, and He loves everyone. … That is why we have indiscriminately worked so hard, day and night, to help out urgently during this crisis mode for Haiti.
Amedia’s comments were apparently sparked not just by the Associated Press report but by responses to it. He concluded his post by saying, “To those of who you have written hate mail to me, please know that I do love you and forgive you and I can only hope that your judgments were premised on a lack of understanding of the full story. To the few who were wise to call and discuss this with me, I thank you that we were able to reason together and count you as my friends.”
Amedia’s “full story” still suggests there’s a cut-off point of sorts for aiding non-Christians. Thoughts? Does aid to Voodooists help Voodoo? Would you keep helping someone if they remained hostile to the gospel? If you aided someone for years and years and they never became a Christian, would you consider your efforts wasted?
January 29, 2010
Rich Stearns, president and CEO of World Vision, US, recently returned from a trip to Haiti and provided this eyewitness account and spiritual reflection to Christianity Today.
Last week, I stood in the streets of Port au Prince Haiti weeping at the scope and scale of human suffering. Tens of thousands died—men, women, children, mothers, fathers, pastors, priests—no one was exempt.
Hundreds of thousands wandered stunned, hungry and homeless in the streets. While they survived the quake, the many aftershocks, and the lack of medical care, food, water and housing, still they had so much of their lives stripped away from them due to the destruction.
Who of us in these past days has not asked the question, “Where was God?” or “Why God?”
January 25, 2010
Many short-term missions volunteers evacuated after quake.
Two weeks after Haiti’s historic earthquake, the stories of survival are beginning to flood out. At the time of the quake, there were hundreds of Americans in country on short-term missions trips.
Ann Klein, during a detailed interview with Christianity Today, told her story of survival and post-quake ministry. She was in Messailler, Haiti, on Tuesday, January 12, on a short-term mission trip. This community is located 20 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince and was not as devastated as Leogane, a major community at the quake epicenter.
During the 7.0 magnitude quake, Ann Klein was aroused from an after-clinic rest to violent shaking. She wondered if the concrete around her would crumble. “I lay there praying, ‘Lord, I pray this house is as solid as I think it is.’ ”
Klein, 71, has been a regular volunteer to medical missions work in Haiti since 1990, traveling to the impoverished nation up to six times per year. After nearly a minute (53 seconds to be exact) of violent tremors, the earthquake subsided.
There was, “loud wailing everywhere. People in the village were hysterical,” she said. Upon stepping outside, she saw that all of the buildings on the mission campus, where she was staying, were spared major damage. But every other two-story building in the area had collapsed. The reason for this was the fortuitous fact that most of them had been over-designed by her husband, Jeff Klein, who knew the Haitian penchant for skimping on concrete. The nearby town of Cabaret was all but flattened, but providentially there were few fatalities—none on the Presbyterian Mission in Haiti campus.
January 22, 2010
Congress approves special treatment of donations. Major telethon airs tonight.
Starting on the day after the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, major American charities have received donations at the average rate of $1.64 million per hour.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy yesterday released a report indicating donations of $355 million for the period Jan. 13 through Jan. 21. Do the math and it works out to an average of $1.64 million per hour.
Keep in mind these donations are independent of the US government support and this report excludes international donations. Among Christian groups on the COP list, Catholic Relief Services and World Vision were top recipients, with $19 million and $15 million in gifts, pledges, and cash respectively.
The Chronicle list is any thing but comprehensive. To me, that means Americans are giving more and more quickly to the disaster in Haiti than perhaps any other natural disaster in recent history. Technology is driving charitable giving as never before, and in some cases it makes up more than 60 percent of giving.
But low-tech still works. The Christian school my daughters attend is working with American Airlines to collect sleeping bags for children to airlift them down to Port au Prince. So our family project last night was to pack them up for collection at the school this morning.
There are two other major developments in the US:
* Congress has fast-tracked legislation allowing Americans to take a 2009 tax deduction for giving to the Haiti disaster, before March 1, 2010. All the details are not yet available. But here is one helpful PDF briefing. This will be similar to the tsunami relief effort in 2004.
* This Washington initiative is sure to give a massive boost to the huge telethon that airs tonight on major major cable and broadcast networks. (see You Tube video above.)
In the meantime inside Haiti, government officials are poised to transition from rescue of survivors to relief work and treatment of survivors. The end of the search for survivors has to be a staggering and heart-breaking development for thousands of families, still missing loved ones.
Pray for Haiti and Haiti's church leaders.
If you are in Haiti and have an update for CT, email me:
Christianity Today hopes to have reports from one of our writers on the ground. He is due to arrive there today.
January 21, 2010
CT columnist Carolyn Arends and Steve Bell among performers; both weigh in on the crisis
A number of Canadian Christian musicians, including CT columnist Carolyn Arends of Vancouver and fellow award-winning artist Steve Bell of Winnipeg, staged a benefit concert for Haiti last night at Centre Street Church in Calgary, raising $115,000 to be donated to Samaritan's Purse. The Canadian government provided a matching grant, bringing the total to $230,000 -- a nice sum for an event that was cobbled together in just a matter of days.
"I know our efforts will be a drop in the ocean, but I am very grateful for the opportunity to do something," Arends blogged the day before the event. "Even from this safe distance, watching the devastation in Port-au-Prince shakes the foundations of many of my tidy ideas about justice and what we can expect from the universe. When my head starts to hurt, I remember this: 1. The world is broken. 2. God is with us. 3. God is for us.
4. God is good. 5. More will be revealed."
Bell, always passionate about social justice, did some research on Haiti before the show, and has posted a couple of very thoughtful items on his blog -- one a brief history of the country, indicating that its problems are not as "self-inflicted" as some (even prominent Christians) have implied, and the other a list of practical ways that Christians can help Haiti.
"I don’t claim the smarts to understand the matrix of causes behind systemic poverty," Bell wrote, "and I certainly don’t hold to a simplistic idea of the noble poor and the evil rich. But I have lived for a decade in one of Canada’s poorest neighborhoods. I have traveled to India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Ethiopia, Kenya, West Bank, Thailand and throughout the Caribbean. I have read many books on the dynamics of systemic poverty and sat in on many dialogues among folks who are leading advocates for the poor. Rarely, if ever, have I encountered individuals or societies whose poverty could be said to be deserved. And rarely, if ever, have I met those who are entirely innocent of complicity in the suffering of others.
"In the case of Haiti, a quick bit of research reveals a brutal feedback loop of external and internal predatory malice, international indifference and climactic shock that will require a patient, compassionate, wise and multifaceted response if healing and flourishing is to eventuate – for Haiti’s history has been birthed in debt, borne by dictatorship and bludgeoned by disasters – a legacy of suffering that perhaps now, might receive the attention it needs."
Meanwhile, Arends notes that one of the songs on her latest album just happens to include a verse about an earthquake "making dust of the city that was standing there." In the song, she wonders aloud: "Well who can say if the trouble comes from above or below or the hands of fate / I just pray when the trouble does come / You help us to remember the promise you make / CHORUS: I know neither death nor life / Not the past nor the present nor things to come / No foe, neither depth nor height / Can separate us from the love of Christ."
January 21, 2010
CT recently spoke with prominent Haitian theologian Dieumeme Noelliste, currently professor of theological ethics at Denver Seminary and president of the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association (bio).
His thoughts on the current crisis and its impact on the Haitian church (edited for clarity) are presented after the jump:
January 20, 2010
An aftershock shook Haiti this morning near Port-au-Prince as relief groups try to help Haiti recover from the earthquake eight days ago. Yesterday I spoke with Lindsay Branham, global communications coordinator for Food for the Hungry, who is in Port-au-Prince. Today she sent me the following images.
January 19, 2010
Relief agencies urge restoration that lets Haitians lead
“I only know one thing – our hope has not died, it is not buried in that rubble.”
Tara Livesay, a missionary in Haiti ended yesterday’s post – stories of kindness, stories of goodness, stories of thankfulness and humor – with those words.
The reports of violence – we don't get those. Have not seen it. Have not experienced it. Nothing even remotely close. People are helping each other and are warm and kind and humble. People are seeking each other out and checking to see how friends/acquaintances are recovering.
This is the Haiti many relief organizations know exist. This is the Haiti they have every intention of helping rebuild. And that, says Ron Flaming of Mennonite Central Committee, is where rebuilding gets tricky.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has worked with churches in Haiti for more than 50 years. Their response, like many relief and development agencies, will include short-term relief plus recovery efforts over the medium- and long-term.
“We’re looking carefully at how we can build peace, avoid violence and do good community development at the same time,” says Daryl Yoder-Bontrager, MCC Latin America and the Caribbean director.
Flaming, MCC director of international programs, emphasizes that rebuilding is about coming alongside the Haitians – not taking over for them.
We’re trying really hard to start at the other side and say, “We’re confident the [Haitian] church has resources in leadership, passion, vision. How can we put the church leadership in front, even in the assessment of needs?
It’s not just a matter of sending in more resources; Haiti’s getting a lot of that. What’s really needed is…asking church leaders: “How do they see themselves responding to this? How can we help them?” Rather than, “Here’s what we can do and can you help us.”
The benefit and the challenge of a disaster so close to home, American relief agencies agree, is the personal connection so many individuals and churches have through mission trips and missionaries in Haiti.
“It’s close to the US, so more people can get involved and help,” says Peter Howard, director of public policy for Food for the Hungry. But Howard has a caution, as well.
We want the church to rise up and respond, but the church has to be careful. We can have good-hearted people, but how good will the response be? I hope it is a two-way street of learning from them and being of assistance to them. This is a great opportunity for a reset button to be hit on the North American / Haiti partnership – so Haiti is not forgotten.
The challenge, says Flaming, is “when you have folks coming in, and haven’t had much reflective thinking on how to respond to a disaster without taking over local initiatives. Don’t undercut the Haitians.
“There are a lot of well-intended people; the challenge is how to channel that so it is not harmful. We’re trying to keep Haitians in charge of their own future.”
Those in America longing to help, stymied in the frustration of not being able to do something, may consider making Peter Howard’s prayer their own:
I’m praying right now that the church will truly rise up and be the church. Instead of being known for some of the comments made in the news, we’d be known for our actions – that our response would be excellent, efficient, and compassionate.
The other prayer that I have is that Haitian Christian leaders will rise up. The government, by its own admission, has ceased to function for a time. Our prayer as things kick back in is that Christians would step up and form compassionate leadership. Not to be exclusive or take over, but to join in the efforts.
January 18, 2010
Organizations are using new tools for donating.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that six days after Haiti’s earthquake, donors have contributed more than $210 million to major U.S. relief groups. The donations are more than was donated six days after the 2004 Asian tsunamis but less than what was given after Hurricane Katrina.
While television telethons could last for hours, says The New York Times, Twitter quickly comes to the point: “Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to @RedCross relief.” By Monday, the American Red Cross received more than $21 million through its texting campaign.
The online gaming community is also finding ways to help. Bungie.net posted this call to action:
We hear echoes of the ocean spilling into the streets of New Orleans. We recall broken buildings slipping away from our skylines, falling into dust. And as shattered families in Haiti begin their own relief and rescue effort, we are reminded that the divide between our nations and our peoples is not so wide, that we are not so different, and that we are not so helpless.
We can do something. We can make a difference. But we can’t do it alone. We’re calling on the Bungie community. We’re asking for your help.
Bungie’s online store is donating 100 percent of their profits to Haiti relief. And for those short on cash, Bungie offers this solution: play Halo 3 or ODST online Wednesday or Thursday. For every 1000 that participate, Bungie will make a $100 donation for Haiti relief efforts.
The blog Good Intentions Are Not Enough offers giving advice straight from aid workers. Tips include:
Donate to organizations with an established presence, quickly.
Work with organizations that have local staff in leadership positions.
Work with organizations that partner with local social institutions, like houses of worship or community organizations.
And on the “do not” list:
If you don't already work for an agency that is responding to the disaster, don’t go to Haiti.
If you don't already work for an agency that is responding to the disaster, don’t start your own new organization.
Charity Navigator lists charities helping in Haiti. In addition to providing ratings for each charity based upon financial efficiency and organizational capacity, the website gives an overview of what each charity is doing in Haiti.
January 18, 2010
Haitians in America await word of their families and friends and do what they can.
Michigan Church collects relief supplies
Many members of West Church of the Nazarene, a predominantly Haitian American church in Grand Rapids, Mich., have not yet heard from relatives in Haiti. While they wait, they’re collecting goods to ship to their homeland.
"Many of the people that attend the church here from Haiti, either come from Port-au-Prince or they have very close relatives in Port-au-Prince,” says Pastor Mathieu Pierre. “Almost every one of them has lost some loved ones in this tragedy."
Gratitude in Brooklyn
New York is home to more than 100,000 Haitian-Americans. Kemberly Richardson, ABC, reported from Haitian churches in Brooklyn:
All they have left is their faith in God. There’s also a sense among parishioners that from the ashes in Haiti, a new country will rise – one that is built on the blood, sweat, and tears of people from around the world.
Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men church in Brooklyn, with 2,500 worshipers, is one of the largest Haitian churches in the city. Almost every member has family in Haiti either dead or missing.
Reverend Samuel Nicolas still offered hope.
God has given us a new start, an opportunity to rebuild our country, a new vision to eventually have tourism back in our country, new airports, couple new ports, hospitals, new roads.
The congregation is donating to Haiti’s tomorrow.
Dartmouth pastor expresses need for compassion and understanding
South Coast Today wrote of Pastor Yves Montinard of the Evangelical Church of Jesus Christ in Dartmouth, Mass., who has family in Haiti and started a school there.
Pastor Montinard expressed concern about news coverage that lacked compassion. “What we have to do first is pray,” he told his church. “And second, we're going to act, move – everyone, every organization, every newspaper, to make sure that people are more sensitive to the Haitian situation.”
New Jersey pastor begins planning of first of many funerals. Others wait.
Pastor Therman Evans of the Morningstar Community Christian Center Church in Linden, N. J., is preparing a memorial service for a Haitian-American family that lost loved ones.
“We can collect the pictures and we can gather and do the same ceremony that would have been done had they made it back home,” he said. Evans predicts many more services as families find out who did not survive.
Not everyone is sure they want to hear.
“Is it better to know they are dead or not to know?” asked Valencia Herold, whose grandparents are missing. “Every time the phone rings we're on edge because we don't know.”
January 17, 2010
Hope and despair battle in a broken nation.
“Each time there is mass devastation due to acts of nature in areas of the world, there is discussion as to whether or not these are acts of God’s judgment,” Bill Shuler, pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia, wrote recently in his article, “Is God Punishing Haiti?”
While most of the world has the luxury of debating this topic academically, Haitians – and those among them – must battle to keep not only their bodies, but also their souls alive.
USA Today captured the juxtaposition of hope and despair near the wreckage of two houses:
"It's a miracle," said Anne-Marie Morel, raising her arms to the sky after a neighbor was found alive in the rubble of a home….
"Nonsense, there is no God and no miracle," shouted back Remi Polevard, another neighbor, who said his five children were somewhere under the nearby debris.
"How could he do this to us?" Polevard yelled.
The Associated Press's Michelle Faul captured the struggle in church in Port-au-Prince this morning:
Sunlight streamed through what little was left of blown-out stained-glass windows as the Rev. Eric Toussaint preached to a small crowd of survivors. A rotting body lay in its main entrance.
“Why give thanks to God? Because we are here,” Toussaint said. “We say ‘Thank you God.’ What happened is the will of God. We are in the hands of God now.”
“I do not pretend to understand the suffering that is happening right now in this country. I know we all feel like we had had enough over the years,” Licia Betor blogged. One of their Haitian friends was trapped inside his house with his family, he the lone survivor. He yelled to would-be rescuers to leave him alone; he wanted to die with his family. He wanted only a gun to kill himself.
“It is in moments of crisis that the meaning and purpose of the church is best defined,” Shuler wrote.
The age-old question found in Genesis, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” must be answered with a resounding, “Yes!” We need to recognize and respond to our global brothers and sisters. Haiti is in need and lest we misrepresent God and his love we should act upon his commands as found in scripture, to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Sunday, Licia posted only photos – of survivors, of lines at the gas station, of streams of people walking out of Port-au-Prince – and the words of Psalm 31:8-10:
You have not handed me over to the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and my body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
January 17, 2010
Groups continue to work on the ground.
First, their plane could not land in Port-au-Prince; they rerouted to the north part of Haiti. Then their first vehicle broke down. Twenty-four hours after landing, Dr. Dan Diamond’s team reached the UN field hospital – and found no operating room.
We started out by going to the UN field hospital to tell them that we thought we had a workable solution for the lack of operating rooms.... Without functioning operating rooms many of these people will be dead in a matter of days. Tomorrow we are going to do what we can to get ours open at King's Hospital.
Diamond, a volunteer with Medical Teams International, coordinated medical emergency response in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He blogs from Haiti about the challenges of bringing aid to a land in chaos.
“We are not here for the dead, but for the living”
Duane Zook’s audio report for Global Aid Network as he walks around Port-au-Prince describes the death and destruction, but he says, “We are here not for the dead, but for the living.”
Global Aid Network had prepositioned food and shoes in Haiti at the end of 2009 in preparation for a future hurricane. But finding a way to distribute 1 million meals could be difficult, as well as finding a port to receive the eight containers Campus Crusade for Christ is waiting to ship.
Peter Elliot at everydaychristian.com interviewed Zook about disaster preparedness, the steps agencies must go through to assist in any disaster, and how the damage in Haiti compares to New Orleans.
Supplies for the living, searching for the missing, comforting the dying
Samaritan’s Purse's (SP) chief medical officer, Dr. David Gettle, says their goal is to “protect those who are out in the open.” Over the weekend, a DC-6 filled with their blankets, plastic sheeting for shelters, flashlights, water filtration systems, hygiene kits and jerry cans landed in Port-au-Prince.
SP Disaster Assistance Response Team is working with the only operating radio station in Port-au-Prince to find missing persons on a list SP is compiling. American ex-pats can listen at 9 a.m. every morning as staff read the names of missing people that are received at their headquarters in Boone, N.C. The team in Haiti has phone number for people to call if they are okay.
Billy Graham Rapid Response chaplains have no shortage of people to talk and pray with: those who have lost their loved ones, and those who are dying.
Faith Comes by Hearing shipped 100 portable, solar-powered audio Bibles with Convoy of Hope, which is sending containers of food, clothing and supplies to churches in Haiti. Pastors will distribute the “Proclaimer units” with the Bible recorded in Haitian Creole.
“God gave me this food,” says Doula, a 33-year-old mother of four, as she walked away with meal packs from Convoy of Hope. “I have faith now that He will give me even more in the coming days.”
January 17, 2010
The country's earthquake focuses more attention on its orphans.
Before Haiti's earthquake, the CIA World Factbook recorded 38.1 percent of Haiti’s population at 14 years and younger. Many were already orphans. Many more are newly orphaned, roaming the streets.
When Reuters reported on the religious songs rising into the night from groups of people huddled together, the reporter said that despite the songs, “the jarring shrieks and sobs of injured children – some lying in the street clutching bloody gashes – are a haunting reminder of the untended suffering in Haiti.”
The Rescue Center of Real Hope for Haiti posted photos of two children pulled from the rubble of their school the day after the earthquake. The children could not remember their names or parents. No one has come looking for them.
20/20 posted a series on the children of Haiti, already at risk before the earthquake.
Diane Sawyer interviewed Lisa Buxman of Heartline ministries for ABC News. When the walls of the orphanage where Lisa worked collapsed, she moved the 20 children into her home. Buxman writes that since the interview, the children have returned to the girls' home.
“It can’t be anything but a miracle,” said pastor Jean Paul, a former New York City cab driver told NJ.com after his church and dining hall roof flattened the building. The 56 children are fine because supper was late. “We have lost everything and yet we have lost nothing,” he says. Paul was an orphan in Haiti until a Presbyterian missionary took him to Brooklyn. Seven years ago he returned at the urging of a recurring dream to form Reformation Hope in La Plaine, just outside of Port-au-Prince, which includes an orphanage and micro-enterprise projects.
One week ago, Lifechurch in Allentown, Pennsylvania, showed a video of the children in the church-sponsored orphanage in Port-au-Prince. Tuesday they did not know who had survived. On Friday, MSNBC reported that a mission team from the church arrived at the orphanage in the night – to be greeted by shouts of welcome from the 11 children and four staff members sleeping in the garden.
Haitian adoptions in limbo
As adoptive parents in the U.S. await news of their Haitian orphans, one father-to-be flew from Nashville to Port-au-Prince to be with his daughter. As MSNBC reports in this video, the Haitian court must approve all adoptions. That court has collapsed.
Dixie Bickel, director of God's Littlest Angels orphanage outside Port-au-Prince, told CNN that paperwork could be buried in the rubble of collapsed buildings. “I would like to see the international community come up with a plan for the children that have been adopted by European, Canadian, and American citizens of how these children can go to their adoptive parents’ countries, either under refugee status or emergency status of some sort,” she said. Her hope is that it would not only speed adoptions, but also open beds for new orphans.
Adoption.com cautions people wanting to adopt the new orphans in Haiti that the process won’t be easy. “[W]e want to reiterate that it can be extremely difficult in these circumstances to determine the eligibility of children for intercountry adoption.”
January 16, 2010
Pastors across America adjust their sermons in response to the Haitian earthquake.
Pastor Bill Douthwaite from Shepherd of the Coast Lutheran Church, Palm Coast, Florida, blogged about adjusting his sermon to address the Haitian tragedy.
I’m already prepared to speak about life issues this week…[y]et I can’t pretend that people aren’t thinking about the suffering in Haiti…. I also can’t ignore the even greater tragedy of millions and millions of abortions over the last 36 years in America.
My plan is to still speak the truth about life, and use Haiti as an example of how sensitive we are to suffering and dying in this world. So is God. We care about life because He does.
A pre-recorded sermon on Jesus and the Holy Spirit will play at the Ballard, Washington, Campus of Mars Hill Church as pastor Mark Driscoll and other volunteers travel to Haiti to deliver 1,000 pounds of relief supplies and other aid.
The Haiti earthquake came just days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the Rev. Kirk Moore at Union Congregational United Church of Christ in Somonauk, Illinois plans to connect King’s message of the “fierce urgency of now” to call his congregation to respond to Haiti.
Now is not the time to argue about who drinks wine and who doesn’t. Now is the time to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
Now is not the time to debate whether it was really Jesus’ mom who got things rolling for Jesus by telling him to do something. Now is the time to respond to the needs of those who have been devastated.
Now is not the time for theological debates or racial fights or saber rattling or political games. There is a fierce urgency of Now that calls us to help.
Gulf Shores, Ala.
How can we speak of banquet wine in abundance when we see desperate people queuing for survival-water? How can we speak of divine intervention…when nature has been allowed once again to utterly ravage the lives of tens of thousands of poor people, men, women, and as we see daily, little children?
…This is not the story of a once upon a time magic trick. This is about what Jesus’ coming to earth means at its deepest level. It means the whole game has changed…. [W]hen we hear his words…we respond with the same extravagance to the hurting, bleeding people around us.
We are the ones with the wine of the kingdom, bursting from our wine-sacks. The people of Haiti right now are the victims on the side of the road, bleeding, needing help. [T]ake out that wine and pour it on the hurting places, bringing healing and relief.
January 16, 2010
Supplies and time begin to run out as relief agencies spread their resources.
Yesterday’s arrival of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson relieved pressure on Port-au-Prince's jammed airport, allowing an 82nd Airborne Division to hand out food, water and supplies within hours. And while 24 U.S. helicopters are flying relief missions, supplies and time are running out.
As of Friday afternoon, World Vision was waiting for its first flight of relief supplies, USA Today reported. "It's a good start, but we don't have a lot of margin for error," Laura Blank, of World Vision, said. "We still need more resources."
“The initial stunned calm that was over the population is rapidly turning to despair and in many cases anger,” says Ron Pierre of Baptist Haiti Mission. "There is a real danger of things turning very ugly, potentially for those who are beginning to arrive to help.”
- At the US Embassy there was a woman with three children. She and one child held USA passports. She thought I was an Embassy employee and pleaded her case to me. I explained that anyone leaving at this time had to have a valid US Passport. She then asked me if I would take her two kids so she and the one child could leave.
- Logistically speaking - things are beyond imaginable. We are considering things like "where do we put medical waste, amputated parts, etc.? Where do people who need IV's around the clock to kill bad infection need to be housed?" We know the world is praying and we thank you and ask you to continue to do so for weeks and months to come.
Heartline Ministries says the flow of donations has already slowed. John McHoul wrote that they will open a clinic on Monday and expect to see broken bones, infected wounds, and injuries from being hit by cement blocks.
“Our biggest concern is our ability to stay stocked up on the medical supplies that we will need,” he wrote. “We as well have concern about how we can keep the electricity on as we have no city power and getting diesel for the generator is at this time not possible.”
January 16, 2010
Scenes of rubble, damage, and recovery emerge after the Hatian earthquake.
Relief organization World Vision sent Christianity Today images of Haiti after the earthquake.
Etienne, 25, was looking for her husband's body. Photo by Stephen Matthews/World Vision.
Patients in the grounds of L’Hospital General. Photo by James Addis/World Vision.
7-month-old Billy was pulled from the rubble of her home after being buried for about 48 hours. She is held by neighbor Julie who rescued her. Photo by James Addis/World Vision at L'Hopsital General shortly after Billy's rescue.
Photo by Stephen Matthews/World Vision.
January 16, 2010
In a country growing increasingly desperate for food, water, and medical supplies, organizations push forward to treat the wounded.
Eighteen tons of emergency supplies from World Vision arrived in Port-au-Prince Friday night. The organization's own offices in Haiti suffered heavy quake damage; the main office is no longer usable. Operations continued from a second building.
World Vision posted Twitter updates Friday night in 1-hour increments:
8:26 p.m.: Most powerful moment today-unsafe hospital forces wounded of all ages outside. People everywhere.
9:03 p.m.: We just need more help. There's not enough water, food or medical supplies. And it's absolutely unacceptable.
10:10 p.m.: An extremely long and emotional day - so many children on their own. Tomorrow brings hope of more supplies.
Medical missionaries return to Haiti
The first team from Medical Teams International arrived in Haiti Friday. The team includes Dr. Joe and Linda Markee, who served as medical missionaries in Haiti for many years. An orthopedic surgeon will lead the second team on Sunday.
Accounts from missionaries living in the midst of disaster
Mennonite Central Committee, an organization that has worked in Haiti for 50 years, has nine international staff and seven Haitian staff in Port-au-Prince. Staff members Benjamin and Alexis Depp ran from their home as it shook, returning just long enough to grab bandages before going to the aid of others.
“We didn’t sleep last night as we were pulling and digging people out of crumbled houses in our neighborhood,” wrote Alexis Depp in an e-mail on Wednesday, January 13.
Benjamin gives an emotion-filled firsthand account via podcast the night after the earthquake.
Adventures in Missions’ Dominican Republic director lives four hours from Port-au-Prince, and is coordinating immediate relief efforts.
Ron Pierre, board president for Baptist Haiti Mission, had a clear telephone line with one of their missionaries in Haiti long enough to grasp the severity of their situation. Several of their churches and schools were completely destroyed, some personnel killed.
“…[T]he conditions in Haiti are desperate and deteriorating by the moment in spite of all that we hear relative to the aid that is ‘pouring in’ from the US and other countries,” Pierre wrote in his blog on Jan. 15.
The following is ann excerpt of what Pierre learned from missionary Chris Lieb:
Our hospital is filled with people 250-300 people lying in the halls, many, many with serious injuries that need immediate attention, more people outside and surrounding areas with a constant flow coming in.
Our doctors are exhausted, most all of our staff are assigned to the hospital.
Chris gave out about 100 very large heavy duty tarps today to be used as temporary shelters and it got very ugly as the last ones were dispersed. The actual process of giving out aid is going to be quite dangerous the longer it takes to reach the people.
Chris commented that he has seen things over the past several days that he hoped he would never see and would chose never to see again.
January 16, 2010
Aid workers are rush to rescue while others are being rescued.
Aid worker in Haiti paying a cost
Christina Belsford, 25, of Phoenix may carry with her much more than memories from her time in Haiti, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. She may lose a leg. But she owes her life to the people she came to serve – two Haitians dug Belsford from beneath a collapsed building in Fayet, outside of Port-au-Prince, where she and her brother, Julian, 27, were working with Heads Together on education and environmental issues. Christina was evacuated to Miami. Julian remained in Haiti to help. In a September 2, 2009 post to his blog, Julian wrote:
There are a great many of us who have great hopes for Haiti and willing to put our energy behind those hopes. As we do this, I'd like us to think always about how we can accomplish the very most, how we can create friendship and love and concrete gains through our work, and to avoid feeding conflict by focusing on who we can blame, who we dislike, who we can pick a fight with. We'll always be capable of picking a fight, but at the same time, we'll always be capable of feeding hunger without feeding hate.
Reporting from the ground
Staff members at Real Hope for Haiti, a medical clinic and rescue center 20 miles northwest of the Haitian capital, are updating their blog with reports and photos.
“[Enoch] was shot in the shoulder when he was 13 during one of the overthrows of the government here,” Licia blogged about her husband. “He has seen lots…. But this is the worse [sic] he has ever seen.”
On January 14, Enoch loaded the car with medical supplies and drove to the capital with Lori, a nurse. “He said he saw with his eyes enough today,” writes Licia. “They were picking up bodies with tractors and buckets and dumping them into dump truck. He saw 10 dump truck full….”
While they care for the injured in the capital and for those who enter their clinic, the Zachery family is searching for a way to feed the babies in their rescue center as they run low on formula and on fuel for transportation.
Haitians earning a living – in the US and at home
The New York Times reports that the Obama administration has granted special immigration status to Haitians living illegally within the United States. The status gives them permission to work and protection from deportation for 18 months.
In Port-au-Prince, the United Nations is offering payment to those who collect bodies.
“They pay me $100 a day,” Valencia Joseph, 32, said Friday at 2 a.m., as he was called to tug a body free of wires. “We must have picked up 2,000 bodies.”
He added, “And there’s more.”
Just the facts
The Week summarizes what happened, who's been affected, and who's helping in Haiti.
January 15, 2010
The head of the Caribbean Evangelical Association gives his advice.
Bishop Gerald Seale, head of the Caribbean Evangelical Association, which is a member of the World Evangelical Alliance, has developed seven ways for Christians to pray for and respond to the Haiti earthquake.
1. Generate ongoing intercession for the people of Haïti and the Government of Haïti. They are dealing with devastation and destruction that is unprecedented in Haïti or anywhere in the Caribbean in our life times.
2. Generate ongoing intercession for the responders who will be going into Haïti. It is not unusual for these persons to be plagued with deep depression and exhaustion as they seek to help the injured and dying and as they move people from shock and grief to rebuilding the nation.
3. Pray earnestly for the coordination of the aid that will be flowing into Haïti from numerous sources. Pray against corruption that always raises its ugly head in these situations and pray for the aid to quickly reach the people who need it.
4. Pray for pastors and church leaders who – while dealing with their own shock, grief and loss – will be ministering to everyone around them. Pray for their spiritual, psychological and emotional strength and their daily renewal so that they can minister effectively in this situation.
5. Pray that the country will be able to move quickly from disaster relief to planned reconstruction and that God will grant wisdom to rebuild stronger and better.
6. Pray for all those who will be making decisions on the relief and reconstruction phases. With God’s help Haïti can rise from this tragedy a stronger and better nation.
7. Finally, begin to make preparations for a meaningful response to our brothers and sisters in Haïti. I will keep in touch with the major Evangelical Christian relief agencies and seek ways in which we can partner in meaningful ways.
The association represents 11 national evangelical alliances in the Caribbean.
January 13, 2010
The Rev. Pat Robertson is leading the trending topics on Twitter today after he blamed Tuesday's earthquake on the Haitians' pact with the devil.
Here's what he said on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” today (starts at about 30 seconds).
And you know, Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napoleon III and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. 'They said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the French.' True story. And so the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free, and ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. That Island of Hispaniola is one island cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty, same islands. They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come, but right now we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.
In 2001, Robertson blamed the September 11 attacks on "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America," he said. "I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"
Update: Here's reaction from Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist and author of Faith in the Halls of Power.
“Pat Robertson continues to distinguish himself as American evangelicalism’s most flamboyant spokesperson. When tragedies strike, people naturally ask questions about why bad things happen to the innocent, and millions of Americans see the hand of God or the devil at work in natural calamities,” Lindsay said. “But few religious leaders today draw the kinds of explicit connection as Pat Robertson has done with the Haitian earthquake. Robertson’s comments reflect as much his rhetorical flourish and skill as a ratings booster as they do his theology.”
Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted: Just talked on radio about Pat Robertson's embarrassing comments about Haiti. Theological arrogance matched to ignorance.
January 13, 2010
Thousands feared dead as faith-based organizations pledge to provide relief.
Thousands are feared dead after an earthquake and 12 aftershocks struck Haiti yesterday near Port-au-Prince.
Haitian president René Préval told The Miami Herald that he had been stepping over dead bodies and hearing the cries of those trapped under the rubble of the national Parliament. A Red Cross official told the Associated Press that 3 million people will need emergency aid.
Reporter Joseph Delva described the scene as one of total chaos. "I saw people under the rubble, and people killed. People were screaming 'Jesus, Jesus' and running in all directions," he told the Times.
Catholic News Service reports that Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, was killed.
World Vision, which has about 370 staff in country, is among the faith-based organizations responding to the quake.
"It felt as if a truck had hit a wall," World Vision staffer Magalie Boyer said in a press release from the organization. "There is extensive damage in the city. People are getting ready to spend the night in the streets. They are not comfortable staying in their houses."
Baptist World Aid has pledged $20,000 in emergency funds for Haiti, according to Associated Baptist Press.
BWAid director Paul Montacute said grants of $10,000 each were committed to the Baptist Convention of Haiti, a group of 110 churches and 82,000 members established in 1964, and the Haiti Baptist Mission, a network of 330 churches and schools founded in 1943.
Floresta, a Christian nonprofit organization trying to fight deforestation and poverty that CT wrote about recently, has not be able to connect with its Haitian staff, most of whom are located 40 miles of Port-au-Prince.
Update: A leader of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee will be traveling to Haiti, expecting to assist with temporary shelter and long-term home repair and reconstruction.
Food for the Hungry has staff members on the ground.