You too should Care about Haiti
I was dying in Haiti and I was praising God for all His blessings and celebrating the journey ahead. There, long ago, He began to teach me if you are at death’s door, it is time for an everlasting and “far better” adventure!
In the 1950’s being a Christian, for many of us, meant little more than going to church sometimes. After I had a personal reconciliation with the risen Lord in the 60’s, I was not very impressed with what most churches were teaching or where most Christians were going spiritually. Fortunately, I was enlightened to recognize it wasn’t due to what seemed to be buried in that treasure of Divine thought and inspiration called the Bible. Like Paul, I almost immediately conferred not with flesh and blood, but abode in God’s word, meditating under the shadow of His wings.
In the 70’s I noted that the now packed out church meeting places spent almost all their tithes and offerings on their building aggrandizement, parking, and church programs and salaries. Little was left to help the truly malnourished and starving peoples around the world.
When Paul was out in the desert fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit, God instructed him to be careful to remember the poor. After many years of enlightenment, Paul went up to the first church to meet with the other apostles. His intention was to discover if he was following the same vision and direction that Jesus had given to them, while He walked the earth in person. They gladly accepted this New Apostle, but admonished him of just one thing, “Be careful to remember the poor.” His heart must have rejoiced that he was already fully walking in that way. My point of this little story is that “remembering the poor” was a central teaching of the early church and it should be central to our spiritual life today.
When I first went to Haiti, I was in the village of Milot not far from the Citadel when a huge train of people marched by me filling the street and jumping and leaping and shouting for joy. They were all so happy and excited that I asked my guide what was all the celebrating about. “It’s a funeral,” he responded. I must have looked dumbfounded! “In my country,” he explained, “we believe our short earthly life is just a school, a place of preparation for our real and eternal life with God.” I smiled, “Well, it certainly sounds like someone graduated!” These photos are very weatherworn because it was carried in the elements. This one shows my guide, Jacques, on the road climbing west from Milot towards the Citadel seen at the top of the photo.
Today I am a somewhat aged man, and because God is now the present and abiding Lord of my life, I am enjoying the gift box which has my name on it which I have not opened yet. On the gift tag it says, “It is given to man to die once.” Someone erased the rest of it, but brother am I excited! If God can bring me to anticipating this gift with great joy, He can certainly do the same for you.
Thanks to the people of Haiti for planting the seeds of that great vine that now grows in my life on both sides of the river and always produces luscious fruit!
The people of Haiti gave me another great gift. Here in the United States, I rarely meet people who are “easy to immediately feel great love towards.” A few days after my first trip to Haiti I ran into some Christian Haitian brothers who I had met shortly after arriving. They had eaten absolutely nothing during the days since I had last seen them because they had no food. People in Haiti are much more focused on human relationships than we are here and they knew they could go to many friends or neighbors and borrow some food if they were inclined to do so. The brothers who were very hungry themselves, hugged me and then asked, “David, have you eaten anything yet today?” These near starving brothers were more concerned about my wellbeing than their own. Most of the people of Haiti were so easy to love, that I must confess they stole my heart…and I am sure they will steal yours.
On one trip I was near a village on the island of La Gonave. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and La Gonave is to Haiti economically, what Haiti is to the United States. Because it is a survival based culture out of necessity, everyone is thinking about what they might be able to do to earn some money to help their friends and family survive. The village was called “Anse-a-Galet.” Translated into English it means, “the way by the sea.” A barefoot young man about 12 followed my guide and me up a rocky and thorn covered slope where my guide would tell me about the island. He explained that during the 1940’s a U.S. Marine was crowned unofficial King of La Gonave. In his diaries the Marine described it as a dense tropical rain forest filled with nutritious, delicious fruits, parrots, and hanging orchids. As we stood there my guide pointed out that the island is now a desert and will only grow millet. In Haiti especially on La Gonave this “tiny birdseed” is all a family may have to eat.
When my friend finished telling me about over logging and deforestation in Haiti and how the clouds are no longer drawn down to rain on the island, I looked about for the young man who had followed us. He had gathered a huge bundle of dead thorn branches and now carried it on his head. “Are you going to take the wood to the market so someone will buy it to cook with?” I asked. By the look on his face I knew I had insulted him unwittingly. “No,” he retorted, “I am bringing these to my mother.” By now you may be getting the idea that I am greatly impressed with most of these beautiful people.
Our small efforts in Haiti have brought some great rewards. Bono of U-2 said it all when he said, “I love this work I do…it is a privilege to serve the poor.”
When I first went to Haiti, I actually thought I was sacrificing a lot for these people I hardly knew anything about. Today I boldly say, “The people of Haiti gave me more than I can ever repay and re-established my faith in humanity.”
Today we are working with indigenous Haitian Pastors and Christian families to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom, help them grow their own food, and are preparing to develop a demonstration reforestation project. We hope some of you will change your life forever in great ways too by contributing to our efforts, or better yet, going to this wonderful land and enjoying its people, its great beauty, and collectively solving some of its big problems through our bigger God. When Bono was asked if he was a spokesperson for this generation, he answered, “…How can you be a spokesperson for a generation, when you have nothing to say, other than Help!” They have a saying in Haiti that the worst thing in the world is not starving to death it is, “starving to death and believing that no one cares.” As a minister I do all I possibly can to help these precious people but it takes a village even to help a village like Milot or Anse-A-Galet or the multitudes of other towns and villages spread across the beautiful mountains of Haiti.
As we wave goodbye to the children of Haiti and they wave goodbye to us, we can only reiterate these words again, please help AND please check back soon for more heart touching stories about the mountainous land of Haiti and so many deserving people!