The eyes of America are turned toward Haiti, and hearts are going out to that poorest country in the Western Hemishpere, too. Like many, it is with great interest I am watching the news and hearing of all the tangible aid that is going to the people who were tragically impacted by that 7.0 eathquake.
I am glad to see people moved in this way – both people of faith and faithless people. I am glad because every resident of Haiti is a creature made after the image of God – as am I, as are we all. As those made in the image of God the people of Haiti have an inherent value. Thus all attempts to alleviate their suffering is a proper response to their present plight. Their inherent value as bearers of the image of God demands it.
But one question remains in my mind: What is the objective of this relief? Are we simply trying to help these people to put thier lives back together the way they were before the earhtquake?
That hardly seems much better than their current circumstances.
If you know anything about Haiti you know it is a vivid illustration of contrasts: The natural beuaty of creation inhabited by the ugliness of humanity. Not only is it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but it is also perhaps the most corrupt, unstable, and ungodly. By no reasonable measure was life good even before the earthquake that has rocked their world.
Here is a little background on Haiti:
Explored by Columbus on Dec. 6, 1492, Haiti’s native Arawaks fell victim to Spanish rule. In 1697, Haiti became the French colony of Saint-Dominique, which became a leading sugarcane producer dependent on slaves. In 1791, an insurrection erupted among the slave population of 480,000, resulting in a declaration of independence by Pierre-Dominique Toussaint l’Ouverture in 1801. Napoléon Bonaparte suppressed the independence movement, but it eventually triumphed in 1804 under Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who gave the new nation the Arawak name Haiti . It was the world’s first independent black republic. (Source: Countries of the World)
What is less known and less reported is that during the 1791 revolution the slaves in revolt dedicated the island to Satan. In their eyes, Satan was seen to be the opposition of the (pretense of) Christianity their oppressors instituted. Subsequently and consequently, despite a long history of being a Roman Catholic Church-State, (which ended in 1987,) Voodooism is the real religion of the island. Even 75% of the professing Catholics in Haiti practice voodoo.
With voodoo as the prevailing religon, is it any wonder that instability, injustice, and treachery are marks of this civilization?
As aid pours into Haiti, my hope is that it would be accompanied by even more prayer. Haiti needs a change at its very core. The people who live there, made after the image of God, need a major work of God. My hope is that this earthquake has prepared the people to recieve it.
Let me encourage you, each time you see Haiti on the news, in these coming days and week, in addition to any tangible assitance God may lead you to offer, take a moment to offer prayer for the transformation of that island. To aid you in aiding the people of Haiti through informed prayer check out Operation World: Haiti.
May God make beauty from the ashes of Haiti. (Isaiah 61.3)