by Chuck Bakinderchuck
“What a mess!” is the knee-jerk response from most folks when you mention Haiti.
The situation reminds me of a story first printed by a newspaper in San Diego and later published in books by both Chuck Swindoll and Max Lucado.
Chippie, the parakeet, never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She had barely said “hello” when sssopp! Chippie got sucked in.
The earthquake that shook Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 17, 2010, was the frosting on the cake of a string of unfortunate and catastrophic events that have crippled Haiti. The world responded to alleviate some of Haiti’s pain. Like Chippie the bird, Haiti has been sucked up, washed over and burned by countless unfortunate events.
Yet, out of the perceived rubble is a voice, a sweet unforgettable song of a triumphant church, a song of faith! They are not sitting and staring. Chippie is singing!
Rubbing shoulders with some of these Haitian spiritual giants, I heard the phrases: “We know that God is going to do something great,” “God will use this situation in Haiti to show the world who He is,” “Haiti will touch the world.”
Doxa Ministries was touched by the orphans left by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince and began to explore solutions with other ministries and charities. We also asked the Haitians’ what they want and need.
We ended up attending and helping to sponsor a Haitian Conference calling for the decentralization of the country of Haiti. This was held at Club Indigo, one of the nicest hotels in Haiti. My friend, Pastor Michel Morisset, initiated the conference.
A blog report of this event is at http://newhaiti.tublr.com
The government in Port-au-Prince is very corrupt. To get a driver’s license in Haiti, you have to go to Port-au-Prince. To get a birth or death certificate, you have to go to Port-au-Prince. Many never bother with recording births or deaths. All land records are kept in Port-au-Prince and as a result, land records have been destroyed in the earthquake. Unless landowners have a hard copy of the title, there is no way to prove they own any land. This is why many of the charities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and ministries are focused on developing the desperately needed housing.
Pastor Michel from Eben-Ezer Mission near Gonaives, along with many other church leaders, has been able to harness a movement of decentralization with over 2,600 pastors and leaders in Haiti. The movement is called “Citizens United for the Construction and Development of a New Haiti.” If the next leader of Haiti does not take into account the needs of the rest of the country and decentralize, nine of the ten districts may secede from Haiti and form a new country. A new Haiti founded on the life and principles of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Michel reminds me of Martin Luther King Jr. as he seeks to set captives free and see deliverance from oppression. He is not alone as there are so many others. In many ways this movement resembles the founders of the United States. Our forefathers sought a country that could leave a godly heritage for the children and each subsequent generation. If God has given a vision for the country of Haiti to Haitians, it would be best served if we would seek to lift the hands and empower those in Haiti who are crying out to God for their country and give them the support and tools they need to succeed.
Unfortunately America’s aid, while well intentioned, has been counterproductive in Haiti. Our response is often relief over empowerment. Please do not get me wrong, there are still many immediate needs to be met. The unintended consequences of relief can be a decline of that economy. Peter Greer in his book, The Poor Will be Glad, has pointed to a paradigm shift in the way the church in the United States does mission work. We have fed the bears in Yellowstone and helped the butterflies out of their cocoons as acts of kindness, but by doing so, have brought about the unintentional demise of bears and butterflies.
The largest importer of rice in Haiti will likely never be in business again. The rice is now free. When the free rice stops, he will no longer have the funds to capitalize the business again. An unintended economic prison results when the relief stops. Empowerment in job training, micro loans, housing and business subsidies will go a long way.
Wayne Gretzky, the great one was asked why many consider him to be the greatest hockey player of all time. His response, “I do not go to the puck, I go to where the puck is going to be.”
The training and education of the children and youth is one of the greatest needs in Haiti today if it will be self -sufficient tomorrow. Currently, Haiti can only produce 40 percent of what it needs to survive.
Pastor Michel started ministry when he was 19 years old. He also started with twenty foster kids that he raised. Today he and his wife have raised hundreds of foster kids who, in turn, have raised foster kids. What a model for discipleship! Orphanages are necessary in Haiti and we applaud those who have come the aid of the orphans and the defenseless. However, a much better future for Haiti will be realized by propagating a foster care system. There are a myriad of studies that show that foster kids do better as adults than kids who have been raised in orphanages.
Seventy percent of the education in Haiti, happens through churches. Sixty five percent of Haiti is still illiterate.
Allow that to sift through your spiritual coffee filter for a minute.
Pastor Michel began a Christian school with five children. Three of them dropped out. That two-student roster has grown to over 26,000 students in satellite schools throughout Haiti.
A friend has often said, “the need is the call.” The story of The Good Samaritan springing from the lips of Jesus to folks like you and me seems to bear this out. Translating that ancient story to modern-day culture we may say, “Why is Sean Penn a better person than you?” In Jesus’ story, the man of moral degradation was the hero because he did something that the righteous were unwilling to do. Sean Penn has been living in Haiti amongs some the most destitute people on the planet, helping them for almost a year, sacrificing multi-million dollar movie deals and giving of his own resources to help.
- Haiti needs English teachers for the children.
- Haiti needs teacher training. Empower teachers who speak the language and understand the culture to impact this next generation.
- Haiti needs your funding for long-term impact as well as food to eat and basic necessities.
- Haiti needs housing. The housing crisis is worse now than two days after the earthquake.
- Haiti needs leadership training and discipleship. Haiti has been evangelized! Haiti is 70 percent Christian. However, from the lips of Pastor Michel, “they taught us to die and not to live.” We came to Christ so when we die, we go to heaven and not hell. Discipleship is lacking.
- Haiti needs help with overcrowded orphanages.
We all need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and bigger than our church. World leaders flocked to visit Mother Teresa when she was alive in Calcutta, India. Why? Because, what was in her hand, was greater than that which was in their hand. You may need Haiti more than it needs you? Perhaps what is in their hand is greater than what you have in your hand. Jesus says, through hungry lips and a child’s mile-wide smile, “Bon Jour!”