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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.