Haiti TODAY, Oct 27, 2011

Not long after I wrote the blog below this one (What Can YOU Do For Haiti?), Sue, a friend from our ministry in Haiti, wrote me, giving a fascinating “HAITI TODAY” update she said I could share.

I’ll divide her correspondence into two sections. 1) Haiti for me. 2) Haiti for everyone. Her writing, (some of which comes from a friend) will be in italics. My comments are in normal type.

Haiti For Me:

Hey Dan – Things are deteriorating countrywide. I’ll add – my spirit is still calm in the midst of everything, even though it shouldn’t be. Thank you God! Then she wrote some about trying to make life as normal as possible for the orphans in her care. She goes on…

Monday morning my alarm was gunshots at 5:30am and then again at 6:30am. Not my favorite time of day or way to be woken up!!! Also – it’s day 12 for the 17 people who were kidnapped… Please pray for them. I’m also a little wigged out that cell & internet service could go down. Being able to communicate with the outside world helps tremendously! I can’t, and hope I don’t find out, what’s it’s like to be that isolated. Please let everyone know I’m safe and doing well BUT to keep praying it stays that way!!! Also for wisdom for me to know whether I should stay or leave. My passport is in my purse. I can leave with my passport, credit card & phone if I need to.

I know it is easy to think, “Why don’t they just leave?” However our missionaries have been working there for years, some of them since 2005. Could you leave a child you had been raising for three months? Three years? 13 years or more? Their support staff, the kids they have raised, all those they work with–they are family.

Haiti For Everyone:

Fuel distribution has essentially stopped because the tanker drivers are on strike until they stop getting robbed, kidnapped, or killed trying to do their jobs (a valid request).

Gas/diesel can only be found sold on the street (with the chance it’s been mixed with something to increase the volume). When you can find any, you can expect to pay around $20 a gallon. Here we don’t understand the need for diesel. Port-au-Prince is the largest city in the world with no running water or sewer. I would say on the average year I have been there, we have had electricity for a few hours a week. On a good year, a couple of hours a day. It takes electricity to run our well. If you have no diesel, then the majority of the time with no generator you also have no water–and no fans, no lights, no fridge or freezer, etc. Of course, you can’t drink even the well water around PaP, but it is nice to wash once in a while.

Food prices that have been steadily rising for some time took a steep hike this past week since roadblocks/fuel crisis/gang-controlled roads are interrupting distribution.

Cell/internet service is becoming unreliable as generator-powered cell towers are shutting down.

Streets are empty due to no fuel to run cars, buses are charging double in some areas if they are still running, and people spent a good deal of last week setting up roadblocks in protest. Streets are also empty because the entire population doesn’t want to get kidnapped, robbed, or killed either. And there’s not a lot of places to go as schools, stores, businesses, and transportation are most likely going to be closed if you try.

— Strike: This week several worker unions from various sectors announced a strike until security in the country improves, and threats of “Operasyon Peyi Femen”, a threat to close the country down, (literally “Operation Country Closed”) has been made. And if the burning tires, roadblocks, and gunfire that started early this morning are any indication, they are trying to be good on their word.

–Safety: People who have the luxury of having a home are staying close to it today, and taking each day (hour) at a time as this round of trouble plays out.

Continued support (especially financial) to your people and organizations you love who are living on these front lines are appreciated and needed. (But don’t even think about bringing it in yourself. Your physical presence just increases everyone’s risk.)

Please see the blog below for organizations you can trust to give to, and for ways to pray for Haiti.

Thanks for reading.

Dan

What Can YOU Do For Haiti?

Having traveled to Haiti most every year since 2007, several folks have been asking me how they can help. I’m no Haitian expert, but we do have a lot of friends and contacts there. Here’s what I know, followed with some safe ways to help.

The church our mission supports, Maranatha Children’s Ministries in Port-au-Prince continues to run both the school and the children’s home, in spite of the danger. The leaders, Byron and Shelley are currently in the States taking care of Shelley’s dad as he prepares for his transition to heaven. Meanwhile Byron and Shelley are using email and phone calls to stay in touch with the staff there, and Sue one of our dear friends just made it back to PaP.

As Shelley recently wrote, “Things in Haiti are UGLY.”

For over 200 years Haiti has been struggling, but outside of Christian relief efforts, few seemed to notice until the earthquake in 2010 that killed somewhere between 200,000 to over 300,000 people. Previously, the last major earthquake to hit Haiti was in 1842. It’s not like they were living in earthquake proof houses. Then we forgot about Haiti again.

Until now.

Then this year President Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated leaving a leadership vacuum. (The one who should have taken his place died of Covid. Not even the interim president has a constitutional right to assume power). Then another earthquake came killing over 1900 people. Then came Tropical Storm Matthew.

What’s next? And the great Haitian question, “Why God?”

BYW, when you see disasters and want to help, be careful. I put some links at the end of this blog. You can trust them; you can’t trust everyone. One example: In 2015 the NPR and ProPublica wrote an article, “How the Red Cross Raised half a Billion Dollars for Haiti and Built Six Homes.” The title says it all. According to American journalist Jonathan M. Katz the global response after the earthquake totaled pledges of $16.3 billion US. But of the money raised, little made it to Haiti. Katz was in Haiti when the earthquake hit. He claims only about two percent of the money Canada raised ($657 million) every made it to Haiti. The US wasn’t much better.

Amazing.

When I see all this, I wonder, “Is God about to do great things in Haiti?” The US, the UN, and the global community when riding in to help have often made things worse. Reading the Old Testament, it seems the darkest days often came before God stepped in, when the people were ready to repent and respond. You may think my application of this passage to be incorrect, but I believe that 1 Chronicles 7:14, although written specifically for the people of Israel can also apply to the USA, and to Haiti as well.

2Ch 7:14 (NIV2011)  If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. There is a timeless principle here. If we expect the help of God, moral change must precede political change. Maybe one reason that both the Trump and Biden administrations have been reluctant to back into Haiti is that they both realized that politics and power don’t permanently change a culture. Afghanistan is still Afghanistan. Only God can change a heart.

Today, the greatest hope on the Island comes from followers of Christ. Here is one paragraph from a Christianity Today article from just after this last 2021 earthquake

“World Vision noted it was working with the local government and police to protect families from being robbed and looted in the aftermath of the earthquake. While the Christian humanitarian organization had immediate supplies for 6,000 people, it—and other groups such as Operation Blessing and the Seventh-day Adventist’s ADRA International—were in the process of mobilizing staff and supplies to Les Cayes, where the quake originated. Samaritan’s Purse deployed its DC-8 aircraft on Sunday carrying 31 tons of relief while also staging a Level 2 mobile trauma unit. On Tuesday they announced that opened a 36-bed field hospital.”

That’s great news!

And so, Satan fights back.

This recent kidnapping of 17 Christian Aid Missionaries, including five children is unpresented, at least in my memory. According to the Center of Analysis and Research of Human Rights this abduction is one of at least 119 kidnappings recorded in Haiti for the first half of October alone! We forget that it is more dangerous in Haiti for Haitians than Americans. They know that to kidnap a visitor brings unwanted attention. It’s easier to get money by kidnapping a wealthy Haitian. That won’t make the news.

When I first started going in 2007, kidnappings were something you had to be aware of—can I say like car theft in Albuquerque? There have always been parts of the city where you needed to keep your car doors locked when driving. After the 2010 earthquake, things were temporarily better. There were so many international groups in Haiti, you could walk around PaP in daytime relative safety. In recent years, it has become progressively more dangerous. The last couple of visits we needed to stay on the radio to know what parts of the city to avoid when traveling. Burning tires, riots are areas to avoid. We could no longer safely walk around the neighborhood, even in daytime.

Haitians are wonderful people. They are demonstrating to “Free the Americans.” How can we help?

Here Is What You Can Do

  1. Keep our mission Maranatha Children’s Ministries and our missionaries in prayer. Of course, you can support them financially too. The school and orphanage are only about 20 minutes from the airport, when traffic and riots are clear. OK, it’s about 45 minutes from the airport. In the past it was a fairly safe area for Port-au-Prince.

Not anymore.

  • Give to and pray for true ministries in Haiti. I have met the leaders of Compassion International in Haiti and gone to a couple of their schools. They are doing amazing work. We have met pilots with MAF at church, living in PaP with their families. But now just traveling to church is dangerous. I have heard that even Route National #2, the main road that connects the southern part of the country to the north is impassable due to gangs. I read last week that the MAF is looking at creating an “air bridge” to get aid to other parts of the country. Another group I am familiar with is Clean Water for Haiti. An attendee at our church who is on their board. It isn’t a Christian organization, but you can trust it. The Mennonites, Nazarenes, World Vision, Operation Blessing, Samaritans Purse (and you thought Christmas Boxes were only for Christmas?) lots of Christians are serving in Haiti. They need our prayers and support. Obviously Christian Aid and Maranatha Children’s Home are great places to give as well. I wouldn’t send money anywhere else assuming it will help. It may never get there.
  • Encourage the family members of the hostages. This from the Christian Aid website

Day after day, families of those held hostage face uncertainty. They long for the return of their loved ones. While we are unable to disclose the personal information of family members, we would like to create a channel through which people can bless them.

Following are some ways you may wish to encourage them:

  • Words of encouragement and Bible verses to lift them up during this difficult time. “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11).
  • Written prayers we can share with the families. In this time of distress and tension, they find comfort in prayers written by others. We strongly believe prayers lifted to God’s throne in the name of Jesus are powerful. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
  • Personal stories of God’s faithfulness to you in times of great difficulty. This would no doubt be a great encouragement to the families of the hostages.

You may send your messages for the families to prayers@christianaidministries.org. Encouraging words and uplifting prayers will be forwarded to the families. It would be of interest to the families to know the state or country of the person writing.

  • Pray for… (also from the Christian Aid website)
  • Pray for the hostages—for their release, that they could endure faithfully, and that they would display Christlike love. Jesus, when nailed to the cross, said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
  • Pray for the kidnappers—that they would experience the love of Jesus and turn to Him. We see that as their ultimate need.
  • Pray for government leaders and authorities—as they relate to the case and work toward the release of the hostages. We appreciate the ongoing work and assistance of those knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with kidnapping cases.

Mostly, pray for a moral change in the country that will lead to political change. It’s a belief in Christ alone, fully devoted to Him as Savior and Lord, that saves individuals. And that saves countries.

Why You Shouldn’t Give Up on The Church; By Pharaoh

We are currently in a study in the life of Moses at church. It occurred to me that Pharaoh would have had a unique view of what is happening here. I wrote this for the church, but thought others might enjoy it.

Exodus 8:1 (NIV2011)  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.

America is giving up on the corporate worship. I was Pharaoh in 1500BC, and I tried to stop worship. It didn’t work out so well. (Exodus 5-12)

When Gallup first measured church attendance in 1937, 73% of Americans went to church. That held steady for sixty years. Then the decline began. 2020 was the first year church membership dropped below 50%.

Then came COVID.

Depending on the survey, somewhere between 33 and 50 percent of regular church goers quit going during COVID. That means they quit both online and in person attendance.

The majority of Americans seem to be done with organized religion.

You don’t have any idea how dangerous this is.

Your God wants worship. Heaven is worship. If you will read the end of your Book, it is all about worship with people “from every tribe and language and people and nation ”. Rev 5:9-10. Heaven is all about community, fellowship, love. Hell, and I should know, is all about the individual. It is silent, alone, and empty.

When Moses came to see me, (Exodus 5-7), he said that The LORD wanted His people (my slaves) to go worship Him. Now, they could have done that in their homes. I couldn’t stop that. I didn’t really care if they did, I just wanted free labor. But Moses wanted them to worship together. As a body – something you now call The Church. That I could stop.

So I did.

And I paid for it.

My country was destroyed through 9 plagues. The crops were devastated. Our livestock dead. Our gods worthless. Except for one god.

Me.

The last plague Moses threatened if I didn’t let them go worship The LORD was “The Death of the Firstborn.” Moses even said my own son would die. This was a direct threat against me, against my claim to divinity, against the divinity of the House of Pharaoh. I had to say, “No, they cannot go worship.”

But your God is a jealous God.

They still got to leave. They plundered us and still left on time. As they went, they destroyed my army and drowned me in the Red Sea. Later they got instructions on how to worship from The LORD on Mt Sinai, and built a place to worship called The Tabernacle. Later they built a Temple. One wall still stands. It was all about worship.

They left and my son still died.

When God wants worship, it’s best not to get in His way.

Maybe you think institutional church isn’t even biblical. Well, your God has been insistent on group worship for at least 3500 years. Maybe you think organized religion isn’t biblical. Right. Have you read that other book Moses wrote called Leviticus? That’s a lot of organization. Really boring. And the New Testament, that has more writing about the work of Jesus through His church than it does about the work of Jesus through Jesus. Evidently church is biblical.

The thing I can’t wrap my head around is that I believe I was much more organized as King of Egypt than your God is in organizing His church. I had more control, more consistency, more power over my subjects even. And yet, my Egypt was destroyed by a bunch of slaves and their God—and your church remains and grows.

What is that word—inconceivable?

I would even say my Egypt was more perfect than your church. We created great cities and influenced the world. We were consistently cruel and self-promoting, progressive and successful. Your church across the world is a hodgepodge of inconsistent knuckleheads. “Hypocrites in transition” I believe your lead pastor has called the church—and himself. If there is any proof that a divine hand wants your worship, it is His use of ordinary imperfect churches like your own to bring it about. That God would use you is totally amazing. Surely, he had better options.

But He wants you. Go figure.

The main thing I see, while looking out from my personal Hell, is how like Egypt American Christianity can be. I was happy for the slaves to worship in their homes if they got their weekly work done. You are happy to worship in front of your TV, on your schedule, choosing the best speakers and band, while eating chocolate Pop Tarts and giving a tip online if you feel blessed. I would have been fine with that. Your LORD wasn’t.

God told Moses He wanted the people gathered. They understood that fellowship, community isn’t optional. Your God was willing to kill my livestock, my livelihood, my army, my son to make that happen. There must be something unique about the power of corporate worship.

When the New Testament started, your God gave you a description of what the new church was like in Acts 2:42-47. It included
Devotion to the apostles’ teaching
⦁ Fellowship
⦁ Breaking of bread –
which needed others
Prayers
⦁ Miracles through the Apostles
– which needed others
Radical selling and giving to help others
⦁ Daily worship
(before going to work? Or after?) at the temple and in homes
Your new “largest digital bible study resource in the world,” paid for by AnchorPoint Sign up by clicking here can probably be a huge help in learning more about the apostles’ teaching. It can help you with child raising and family devotions, financial management and bible study methods. But it isn’t corporate worship. Somehow listening to a podcast, as helpful as that is to gain information, isn’t equivalent to the worship that The LORD wanted from my slaves, or the early church.

It probably isn’t sufficient in and of itself for you either.

Is your church messed up? Sure. They all are. The members are messed up. The leadership is messed up. Masks, no masks, different political views, a band out of tune, a pastor that goes on so long you wonder if he knows how to land the plane. But God calls messed up people to worship Him together. He will kill for it. He knows you need each other. Probably now that you so often disagree with each other, you need each other more than ever.

Don’t follow my example. There’s hell to pay.

Pharaoh

This Sunday—the final plague, the Death of the Firstborn. AND, the Ministry Fair with food. I hope you can join us,

Dan

3 Ways to Attend Church

  1. In person inside (please bring a mask) or outside (please bring a chair) – also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot. Lord willing this week the weather will be better.
  2. Facebook Livestream
  3. YouTube Livestream

Why You Should Hate

Hate gets a bad rap.

God hates.

Recently, I read that “you will never turn from a sin you don’t hate.”

Have you ever had one of those sins that just stayed with you? You wanted to end it, but it just hung around like the puppy we bought last year. It’s familiar. It’s tenacious. It drools. It’s even a bit, dare I say it, likeable?

You’ll never turn from a sin you don’t hate. Here are some sins God hates.

Proverbs 6:16 There are six things that the LORD hates, even seven that are disgusting to him: 17 arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, 18 a mind devising wicked plans, feet that are quick to do wrong, 19 a dishonest witness spitting out lies, and a person who spreads conflict among relatives. (GW)

Does God really hate? I looked up the Hebrew word translated “hate” in Proverbs 6:16. It means… hate. The word translated “disgusting” means “detestable, an abomination.” God really hates sin.

We should too.

Sanctification is a fancy word meaning “to become holy or set apart.” Positionally, that happens in an instant. When we come to God in belief, we are freed from our sin, set apart by God and sealed by Him. Ephesians 1.

But practically, sanctification isn’t so sudden. Author Jen Wilkin calls the process “a slog.” Sin can be so annoyingly likeable.

Back in my Youth Director days, I had a 4-step chart to help put signposts on our slog toward sanctification. Progress, when you see it, can be encouraging. See if this helps.

We begin our spiritual journey after salvation living a life of unconscious disobedience. Once the Holy Spirit brings an issue to us, we become consciously disobedient. Rather than change immediately, we tend to stay there a while. Sin can be so annoyingly likeable.

Over time as we yield to the Spirit, we begin to hate the behavior. Now the real work begins. Conscious obedience is the difficult step. It is so easy to slide back. Here is when we need to pray to hate the sin as God hates the sin. Developing a hatred of what God hates will decimate a temptation.

Finally, we wake up one morning and realize it has been months since that sin really tempted us. A new lifestyle is developing. We are living in the Spirit in a state of unconscious obedience. And then…

Then the Spirit shows us something else we like, something else He hates. And there we go again.

And over time we become more and more like Christ. Hating what He hates, loving what He loves.

CS Lewis put it this way,

“Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has — by what I call “good infection.” Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

By the way, our church is giving away subscriptions to the largest digital bible study resource in the world, with a great kids section. Sign up here! Don’t thank me. Thank AnchorPoint.

Dan