In 1791 Saint Dominque was the richest European colony in the world making many French wealthy through gigantic sugar plantations and coffee-producing estates. But With a new nation being born just to its north Revolution was in the air in a country that would become known as Haiti.
A half million slaves who were the driving force of this enterprise started doing a head count and realized they were not only considerably stronger but outnumbered their owners by 15 to 1. Those are overwhelming odds by any ones standards and certainly a confidence booster when planning a revolt. The slaves from Africa combined forces and overthrew their euromasters and sent them packing.
Over 200 years later this nation born from freed slaves is the 148th least developed of the worlds’ 179 countries. The average annual salary is $240- about 66 cents per day. 50 percent of the population lacks access to potable water and barely 10 percent uses electricity. For those 10 percent that have access to electricity it goes off every day for several hours.
What you see on the ground is a nation in the throws of poverty. There is no public garbage service and so it is strewn around everywhere. There are piles of it, mountains of it, rivers of it and streets of it. There were literally streets that seemed to be paved with it. An interesting juxtaposition against a heaven whose streets are paved with gold.
This nation of former slaves was built on the backs of a people who had no idea what it meant to be free. How could they? As slaves it was not in any interest of the owners to educate their property Thus it was that a half million men women and children with no education, no resources and several options for gods set out to form a nation.
With no formal training, many of the former slaves retreated to the nation’s interior where they farmed small plots with little outside investment. They settled into subsistence farming techniques that continue to this day. It’s those very farming techniques that have played a huge role in stripping the land and have prompted an ecological crisis. In a year like 2007 when 4 major hurricanes blew through it is cataclysmic.
It is has been said that Haiti is the first nation that was ever established by a group of former slaves. This is not entirely true. Israel holds that title. Israel had been living in slavery for 400 years under the brutal Egyptian government. Like our brothers and sisters in Haiti, Israel was the economic engine for the prosperity of their owners.
When you consider this it begins to make total and perfect sense why one of the first things that God would do is to park Israel in the desert and give them The 10 Commandments. It comes into focus why God would tell them to farm the land for 6 years and every 7th year to give the land a break. (Lev 25:1-2) It makes sense why He would take the time to tell them to go outside the camp and bury it when they have to go to the bathroom (Deut 23) It’s clear why He would tell them to stay away from certain foods that we know today have the dangers of carrying disease. (Lev 11)
It wasn’t a God trying to set up some sort of cosmic buzz kill system but rather a merciful God that knew what it would take for a people to coexist in a new land. It makes you wonder if Israel would’ve found themselves in the same condition as Haiti if God hadn’t taken the time to give them education.
Many experts believe Haiti is not beyond hope. It has a relatively small population and is in a stable region. Post earthquake there is well over a billion dollars in foreign aid immediately available that could be invested in hospitals, schools, health care, electrical systems and vital infrastructure. And yet that isn’t happening.
John Currelly, an agronomist with the Pan American Development Foundation in Haiti says “If you had covered these mountains 100 years ago with high-producing fruit trees and various other perennials, this country would still be richer than Canada. Haiti is extremely productive and has a tremendous recuperative capability … The land itself, if left alone, comes back very quickly.”
But the land has never been left alone. Its riches once fueled an empire, just as poverty now powers its collapse. And so what to do?
The government has failed dramatically if not spectacularly. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a sense of hopelessness when I first arrived. How could these people in this country ever thrive? Billions of dollars of foreign aid in the past decade, a UN force visible everywhere that operates on a $580M annual budget and the direct involvement both militarily and internally from the United States have not helped. Where is the hope?
At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s in Jesus. More specifically it’s in Jesus IN you and I and our brothers and sisters in Haiti. I had been asking where is God in the face of such suffering but the proper question is “where is the Church?” When I looked in that direction I see hope manifested in a man like Gerald Lafleur who leads the church appropriately called Restoration Ministries.
I see hope in Pastor Rodrigue who along with his wife open their home to bring shelter and safety to single moms escaping abusive relationships and children with no parental care.
Sebastian (is sponsored by Bucky and Kimmie Elliot through Restore Haiti) is being taught principles like giving and mercy and love.
Farrah (sponsored through Restore Haiti as well) is being taught that her body is her property and to break the cycle of single mothers with children from multiple fathers who will never marry their mothers.
Vlo (sponsored by Philip Peters through Restore Haiti) is being taught to be a man to not get a woman pregnant and walk out on her.
Dashka (sponsored by Theresa Swain through Restore Haiti) is being taught that abstaining from sex outside of marriage is the ONLY guarantee they have of not contracting an evil disease such as HIV/ AIDS.
They’re not only being fed physically but spiritually as well. These well fed children will grow up, and it’s my belief that they will grow up to be part of the revival that awaits Haiti.
This is all being done in the confines of a local church in a local community. It’s all being done because of folks like you and I. THE Church, made up of believers all over the world, are coming together and bringing real hope to this ravaged nation. It will only be done if all of us will man up, do our part, stand a post.
Jesus, when He sent out the 72, told them to pray for laborers. He said that the laborers are few. Living in Nashville where there are 1,000 churches that’s kind of a foreign idea. Coming too Haiti I see exactly what He was talking about.
There truly are too few laborers. Perhaps you would join me in praying Jesus prayer. Perhaps you are the answer to His prayer.
If you’re not already involved with what we’re doing through Conduit, I would ask that you prayerfully consider getting involved. We have trips coming up this year to Haiti, Togo, And India. Maybe you’re not a going laborer. But a sending laborer. And you can sponsor our work this coming year.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested Ina trip. Or http://www.conduitmission.org if you’re interested in donating financially. We are so honored to have those of you who have already partnered with us. And excited at the possibilities of who God is nudging in our direction.