Haitian President Rene Preval has said that “nearly 170,000″ bodies have been counted since the devestating 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on January 12th.
That number is mind blowing. We are hit with statistics all the time.
Statistics are so numbing. They rob lives of their humanity. Granted, they can and do serve a purpose – they do reflect real data. They alert us to the immensity of an issue or a disaster.
I would suggest that in many cases they distance us from reality. There are real people behind the numbers. Sometimes it is hard to remember that. Real people, with real families and real challenges.. goals.. dreams.. needs… who aren’t that different from you and I. God loves each one of them the same way he loves us.
Let’s put to death all these statistics. There are people behind the numbers. Let’s not forget their faces and their humanity. The faces of the three million people that have been affected by the quake, of the children across the world that have diarrhea due to contaminated water, and of the millions of orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS. Below are a collection of pictures from Haiti to help remind us.
Here is another post by my friend Scotland Huber. After some time has passed and we are back in the comfort of our homes, it is so easy for us to forget about profound experiences we’ve had on missions trips or traveling abroad. We forget about the real people whose real struggles we saw first-hand. Read on as Scot describes his own experience, maybe you can relate.
A good friend of mine just got back from a trip to Guatemala. Some of you may know I was there last year. Sometimes we forget some of the most important lessons we learn in life. Today in church during communal confession we prayed, “My memory has no retention, so I forget easily the lessons learned, and your truths seep away.” So true: I am a forgetful man.
The earthquake has deeply impacted the community I serve in. I believe Boston has the 3rd (or 4th) largest Haitian community in the US, with a heavy concentration in Dorchester. I hate that such tragedy serves to be a “reminder call” to white-middle-class-american-me, but I just feel so separate from it even though my community groans around me.
Though I feel the need to pray for Haiti, this event has reminded me of what I was faced with in Guatemala last year: how thick the veil in which covers my whole vision of life and value. These people in need, the imperative need in Haiti, but also those who need clean water, vaccines, fair wages, etc, are not just stories but people.
Remind me they are people. What can we do for them? Those our neighbors thousands of miles away?
Recently, I read a story on the Samaritans Purse website about three girls hoping to raise 1,000 dollars by selling cookies.
“Taylor, 9, has been studying natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes at school, and understood what the impact of such a disaster might be.”
What an incredible response! The other day, I was greeting people as they were coming into the Water Missions office and a group of four girls came in with their mothers. The girls came up to the front desk and pulled an envelope out of a bag. They handed it over with smiles on their faces to go to the people of Haiti.
They had set up a lemonade stand on the side of their road, after hearing about the earthquake and all the people hurting in Haiti. Inspiring stories like this are popping up across the country as people respond to the disaster.
It reminds me of when Jesus fed the 5,000 and it only happened because a boy had some bread and fish. He was willing to give what he had and God multiplied it beyond belief. What a testimony!
The response of Churches and people across the country has already been immense. Let us continue to join in the effort to bring relief and share God’s love! What if the Church, and Christian relief organizations were the ones that headed the relief effort. How God’s love would shine!
I would like to hear how people are getting involved to bring relief to Haiti. What are you or your Church doing in response to this disaster? We all have the ability to help! What are you doing?
So send stories about how you or your church are getting involved with the relief effort to email@example.com. Allow them to be used for the encouragement of the body!
In the meantime, here are some pictures of the latest Living Water Treatment Systems being utilized in Haiti.
This following is a 1st person account from Elsa, one of Water Missions Country Directors who was in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck Haiti. The photos were taken by her and her husband Julio. They are now installing Living Water Treatment Systems around PAP providing safe water to the suffering.
This experience was for me the most horrifying ever. As a California resident I should be used to earthquakes but the fact that I was in a strange country, alone in a solid cement house changed any quake training I had.
On Tuesday January 12th at about 5pm I had just come out of the shower and was still in my under clothes when very suddenly it felt like someone had given the house a major kick and it started to violently shake in all directions. I was in our bedroom on the second floor of the house and had time only to grab the door handle and stay glued to the closed door in the bedroom. The violent shaking went on for what seemed to be an eternity and it really was about 25 seconds as the experts say. As the shaking started to calm down I ran to the bed, put on my pajama, rushed out the bedroom and headed down the stairs to the front door. As I came down the stairs I noticed the bottom floor was full of dust and smoke, I didn’t look around, just opened the front and got out to the front gate where my neighbors were screaming at me to get away from the house. They tried to open the gate so I could get out but it was locked and the house key was needed to unlock it. This key was inside the front door still in the door lock that was ripped from the metal door and laid on the floor. As I rushed back for the key I saw the house for the first time and I was petrified with what I saw but I got the key. My neighbors tried to open the lock but it was damaged and stuck. One of my neighbors who is a big man called 3 other big men and they ripped the iron gate open to get me out.
I stayed on the street for a few moments just trying to compose myself and think what was next on the To Do list. As I came to myself I started checking on the neighbors and they were all ok except the house #7 where painful screams were coming from. The men around ran there to see what had happened and came back with three wounded people and started talking very frantically after which everyone was crying and praying. I was able to locate one of my neighbors who is the only one speaking English and he explained that two small children were killed under house #7 as it completely collapsed. They were a boy and girl between 3 and 6 years of age. All my neighbors were desperately using their cell phones to contact family members that were not at home yet and some of them were unable to do so. I tried also to reach Julio and after about 30 minutes of desperate trying I was able to connect to him and I asked him if he was well and he said yes. I told him that we just had a major earthquake in PaP and I lost contact.
Back in my neighborhood everyone started to calm down but there was a lot of crying still going on. The neighbors who’s house were damaged but not so dangerous, started to bring chairs, blankets, cardboard and food out to a wide open area in front of the houses and we all settled there in preparation to spend the night. I was unable to even go near the house and every time I got close to the gate the neighbors would yell at me “NO”. They gave me a chair, 2 blankets, food and water and I felt so comfortable with them even though inside I was in pain because I knew Julio was on the way to PaP and I did not know what would happen to him and our staff as they got into PaP because the aftershocks were constant. I spent the night on a chair praying and testing my cell phone for connection to anyone. I tried Julio, my parents and George and Pat at our organization in the US because I knew they would learn about this disaster immediately and be very worried about us. As I set outside all night without sleep I was trying to find a way to get into the damaged house to get my purse where I had all my documents including my passport. It was a horrible night.
All day, Wednesday I continued to stay outside with all the neighbors trying to contact Julio without success until about 3pm when I saw our vehicle drive into the gate of the village where we were. In the vehicle were Julio, Louis and Aristil. We ran to each other as if we had been away forever.
This post and the following are first person accounts from Water Missions husband and wife staff based in Haiti. This first testimony comes from Julio who was outside of Port-au-Prince doing site assessments when the earthquake hit. Previously, Julio and Elsa served for 4 years as the directors of the program in Sri Lanka and moved to Haiti several months ago. The pictures were taken by them of the devastation after the earthquake struck.
On January 11th I was close to Okai when I received a call from Elsa saying there had just been a major earthquake in PaP. The call was just a few seconds, the call got cut and it was the last I heard from her.
After the call I decided to return to PaP immediately. As we passed Okai towards Ti Goave, the vehicle started shaking as if we were on a boat. We continued the trip and kept feeling the aftershocks about every 15 minutes. After passing Ti Goave, the only way to PaP is through a mountain called Monke Tapion, we started climbing the mountain together with all the other traffic going towards PaP. As we were topping the mountain another aftershock of about 5.0 caused boulders to fall from the top side of the mountain and trapped us along with various other vehicles. As we were stopped there we could see people running towards the road and more vehicles coming in our direction, all trying to escape the falling debris. This was about 6PM and we stayed trapped on the mountain all night until 10AM the next day. All night we kept feeling aftershocks still about every 15 to 20 minutes. During the night we witnessed that the many people trapped along with us were walking up and down the road praying and singing Christian hymns. Every time aftershocks were felt the population would start screaming and shouting prayers to God in a chanting manner and one of the phrases they mostly used was for the Haitian people to give up the guns and the killings because this was God’s punishment for doing so. We were unable to sleep and spent the night praying and trying to contact our family but were unsuccessful.
The next morning at about 7am, our technician Louis climbed the rest of the mountain to the front of the vehicle line to see why we were not moving. There he saw that the UN peace keeping unit was from the Sri Lankan army, so he spoke to them and asked them to help move some rocks and clear a part of the road so his Country Director could go through to PaP because his wife was home alone and he had no news from her. Louis also told the Sri Lankan soldiers that his country director had been in their country for 4 years helping their people affected by the Tsunami and now was here to help Haitians. At this point the soldiers became very interested and started helping Louis to recruit people to help clear the road. Quickly the road was cleared and the WMI vehicle along with approximately 70 other small vehicles made it through and were on their way to PaP. As our vehicle passed by the UN soldiers they waved at me and smiled happily. On the way to PaP we witnessed a lot of the destruction as well as many bodies lying along the roads and in front of the hospitals and churches.
We finally arrived at the office/house at about 3pm on Wednesday and I had the most relieving feeling come over me when I saw Elsa sitting outside with all the neighbors. The four of us ran to her and embraced her as if we had not seen her for years. We were all crying then. We talked to all our neighbors and heard their stories and despair as everyone had their houses damaged and some loss of life.
As I look back at my experience now I clearly see the hand of God protecting us all the time and as He promised us; it is in the times of trouble that He will carry us. While we were trapped in that mountain all night with aftershocks one after the other and rocks falling from that mountain regularly, I kept praying for protection and safety for myself and my team. God kept His promise because He carried us safely out of that mountain and all the way home.
People in Port-au-Prince search for survivors after the earthquake.
Tuesday afternoon a major earthquake struck miles outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti leaving tens of thousands dead and millions displaced. Homes, hospitals, schools, and international relief offices have all been part of the devastation; crumbling to the ground by the strong tremors that shook the country. Aid agencies are working around the clock to provide immediate relief to the thousands buried under concrete and millions suffering from wounds who unless rescued, treated, or given food and water will not survive much longer. You can get Live Updates on the situation at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8460771.stm
Through hold-ups at the airport and all the difficulty associated with coordinating the logistics of such a large scale relief effort we must remain unwavering in our support of the Haitian people and pray that God will rein supreme throughout this situation. God loves the people of Haiti and desires their hearts. The Gospel Coalition blog has a powerful post up called “Does God hate Haiti?” which addresses this issue.
Thousands are left homeless and spend the nights on the streets.
Oxfam has said that ensuring access to clean water for survivors is “probably the most immediate problem to resolve now”. By providing clean water we can stop the spread of waterborne diseases that otherwise will reek havoc on the population.
Now is the time for the Church to come together and respond to the disaster in Haiti. It is time for us to put actions to our words and reach out to the suffering. In this moment we have a unique opportunity to be direct vessels of that love to the people of Haiti in their time of immediate need. Many of us probably feel helpless in the wake of such disaster. We desire to help, but simply do not know what to contribute.
Donate: There are many wonderful organizations that are doing work on the ground. One of those is Water Missions International. Water Missions has 10 Water Systems being sent that can provide clean water for 50,000 people. There are full time WMI staff members on the ground in Port-au-Prince and numerous ministry partners that will help operate the systems. Here is a news report from yesterday. You can donate to Water Missions International’s disaster relief effort on their website. http://www.watermissions.org .
34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Who is our neighbor? Recently, I have been reading “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns. He talks for awhile about the two greatest commandments of our faith. This got my mind thinking on the topic of neighbors. Who is my neighbor? What does it mean to be a neighbor? It is interesting to me that immediately after loving God, comes loving your neighbor. One thing’s for sure; we’d better know to whom we are responsible for loving.
Of course, Jesus addresses this question with the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man is beaten up and left on the side of the road; people walk by him and sure enough the person who ends up helping him is the one least expected. The Samaritan stopped and cared for the Jew. At the end of the story, Jesus asks:
36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
What is this passage saying? That we choose our neighbors or that all people are our neighbors? Do we choose to act, or not act like a neighbor?
Here we have two people groups that hated one another. Throughout history there have always been comparisons to this story – two groups of people that are perceived as polar opposites. What do you think are some modern day comparisons? In our minds, choosing to love someone you hate or is completely different from you seems completely illogical. But, this is what Jesus calls us to do.
These passages point to an important truth. God wants us to love others, radically.
I live in Charleston, SC. I could hop on a plane, and be in rural Kenya in a matter of hours. I could pick up the phone and call there in seconds. In our modern day, not only are the people who inhabit the house next to mine my neighbors, but those who live a life of poverty in far off countries. God is constantly expanding my worldview. This is a big neighborhood.
God is changing the world through water. By delivering the most important human need, doors are being opened to get the Gospel in.
Everyone needs it – the body can survive without food for about 30-40 days, but without water, the body can only survive about 5 days. People need to drink water, it can’t be avoided, because of this waterborne diseases are the world’s most prominent killers. They hide in what you need the most, a cup, bucket, lake, well, or stream of water.
Thanks to the efforts of many organizations across the country that work to provide safe water, the gospel is being spread.
Bibles and Christians are entering countries they never could before.
In one of the projects that Water Missions International sent a water system to for disaster relief – a previously Hindu man recently asked for a bible and has started witnessing to others. Not only is he witnessing to people within his own ethnic group but also to members of the opposing party! Christ coming into this man’s life is breaking down the barriers of years of political conflict!
It is amazing how God breaks down walls and opens doors when you serve him. His love overcomes even the fiercest of ethnic divisions, and can spread to the hardest to reach areas.
By meeting a basic physical need, spiritual needs are being met. What an amazing blessing and challenge! Let us continue to work diligently, using our unique gifts to craft creative solutions to the water crisis!
Below are some raw reflections by my dear friend Scotland Huber, who happens to be a talented photographer. He runs a blog called Give and Take Pictures. Maybe you can relate to or be challenged by his thoughts and photographs.
The most powerful thing. The most awe-inspiring thing. One of the most essential things.
I take it for granted. Way too much.
We have this toilet in our apartment that often runs. I sometimes forget to turn it off.
I need to wash my hands? Just turn on the faucet full power and let it run.
Same thing goes for brushing my teeth or cleaning dishes.
Meanwhile thousands, millions, of people in the world go without clean water. I don’t get it. Why am I this way? And why is it uncomfortable for me to not be okay with this?
Some have the capacity for much, some have been given much, some don’t have anywhere near their potential.
I think this can only change: one. drop. at. a. time.
How can we join in being a part of one of the most important issues our generation faces?
A living, active, moving, constantly changing
Body, Congregation, group, fellowship
United in Faith
That there is
ONE GOD, ONE HOPE ONE SALVATION
Through God’s son Jesus Christ, who died so that we may live
For eternity with Him
We will Serve, We Will Love, We Will Care, and We Will Break Free
Living radically through Faith in Him who saves us