Haiti Trip, Blog 3
We’ve seen all kinds of poverty this week in Haiti: economic, political and spiritual. It’s not hidden, like in much of the US, but as if intentionally exposed for all to see.
For much of Haiti’s history the people have lived in a state of constant suffering. In more recent years the Duvalier’s, better known as rulers Papa Doc and Baby Doc, brought economic and spiritual havoc to this 200-plus-year-old nation. An estimated 30,000 Haitians were murdered under the reign of Papa Doc, and Baby Doc stole millions of dollars from the government for his own pleasure (his wedding, for example, cost nearly $3 million!). Then, after years of military rule, disease, pain and death, even more suffering rocked Haiti when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck in 2010.
Today Haiti is ranked as the 4th poorest country in the world, with roughly 6 out of 10 people living on less than $2.44 a day (the national poverty line), and Haiti is hands-down the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Along with the political and economic unrest, the country is dominated by voodoo, a pagan religion, which seeks to sevi lwa (“serve the spirits”). Voodoo is centered around the worship of dead spirits. A darkness clings to the land of Haiti because of voodoo.
But we’ve also seen how the church in Haiti shines brightly through the darkness, and, also in contrast to our life in the US, their light is not “hidden under a basket.” In churches we saw a people who boldly rejoice in God whether pain lurks just around the corner—which they’ve come to expect from cradle to an often early grave—or is a constant companion. The people praise God more passionately than I have ever seen.
And most memorably, Haiti’s precious children brought laughter and love to our lives, even though they themselves have little to call their own in this world. Our Haitian brothers and sisters, both young and old, find their hope in their relationship with Christ. Because of their dependance on the Lord, they find joy in the midst of their suffering. That’s a lesson I’ll be packing in my bag to bring home with me.
For Christ and for the children,
Administrative Assistant for Orphan’s Tear