I have been back from Haiti for just over two weeks now and have spent some considerable time reflecting upon my experience and the actual event that took place. I continue to sort through emotions and questions and contemplate what’s in store for my future involvement. I intend to continue to write about future developments from both a personal standpoint and ministry involvement.
Below is the first of my initial thoughts and reactions……
Shock waves were sent throughout the world yesterday, and literally through the country of Haiti. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the country around 5pm on Tuesday. If you have been watching TV, all the major news stations have done a great job in covering this catastrophe. The Red Cross estimates that over 3 million people have been affected and possibly thousands of lives have already been lost. It is hard to imagine what the devastation will look like, given the country’s poverty and poorly constructed infrastructure.
Its amazing to think that I left the country the day before the quake.
My team returned late Monday night from Port-au-Prince from a week of service just a few miles north of the city. I have a passion for Haiti and have been going for the past ten years. In fact, prior to this trip, I finally had to renew my passport.
I spent the summer there back in 1999 and have been going ever since. I love the country and the people and really have hope for the nation.
Then the earthquake hit.
This recent natural disaster only brings more hopelessness and despair to a country that lacks hope.
If you know much about Haiti, you know that it is by far the poorest country in the western hemisphere. 80% live below poverty line. Almost 70% are illiterate. The majority of the population lives on $1-$2 US dollars a day.
There is wide poverty, starvation, disease, and unfortunately corruption throughout the land. Missionaries and aid workers have been trying for decades to bring relief and hope (and they do in small isolated pockets), but the truth is the country has seen little improvement.
Hard to believe with millions of dollars pouring into the country.
Not hard to believe when you realize that the country was officially dedicated to Satan.
Now, I am not one to quickly bring things into a spiritual light, however, until you have been in Haiti, it is hard to understand the reality of spiritual forces.
To be honest, I am a skeptic by nature.
However, the people of Haiti have taught me much and opened my eyes.
It’s not that I am trying to project something into the situation. The Haitians are the ones confessing that their situation is due (largely) to the effects of spirituality.
Yes, education is a factor. Corrupt government is to blame. Mismanagement of money is a major problem. etc.. etc.. etc..
But the real question is why are all of these things happening to Haiti over the years.
It sits on the same island as the Dominic Republic, yet shares in none of the blessings of that nation.
Haiti has been ravaged by politically turmoil, civil unrest, massive natural disasters, and a general sense of despair.
For the sake of time I will spare you with the history, but records show that the country was dedicated to Satan.
Voodoo is a commonly practiced form of religion and even though officially 80% of the population is Catholic, a very large majority of them also practice voodoo.
I will not get into what exactly voodoo is, but I will say this. It is not some heightened form of superstition and it’s not the fun masks and dolls of Mardi Gras
This religious activity is very real and very powerful.
The people are both curious and scared of it at the same time.
Personally, I have witnessed demon possessed people in Haiti.
It still scares me to death, but it is not fabricated or imagined.
There is real spiritual power going on there.
Two days before the earthquake, we were outside the presidential palace and watched a voodoo carnival in process.
Again, this is a celebrated event in the country.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that at the moment the carnival began, dark clouds began forming and hovered directly over the roads where the carnival progressed.
But Haitians do not believe so.
We were walking through a village with children, and they pointed out the houses and people who had been cursed by a voodoo priests and others whose homes or business were destroyed “because of demons”.
Now again, I am not one to readily buy into spiritual warfare and what exactly it looks like, but I continue to hear stories from places like Africa, Asia, and Haiti.
There appears to be a spiritual power battle in the works in this particular country and has been for years.
One would think that if you devote your nation’s health, welfare, progress, and future to evil forces your prognosis cannot be great.
After all, the Bible says that the evil one comes only to “steal, kill, and destroy”. (John 10:10)
Now, do I think that the devil is destroying the country…I am not sure.
I have also heard leading evangelical pastors claim that the earthquake was God’s judgment upon the nation of Haiti.
I am not eager to set foot in the camp either.
However, I have been reading through the Old Testament this year, and there were numerous stories of God’s wrath and judgment being poured out on neighboring countries and even his own people through warfare, famine, and natural disasters.
Here is a gem from Revelation 16
17The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.19The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
Clearly, in the past (if you believe the Biblical records) God has caused earthquakes to send a message and punish His people. That much cannot be denied.
Now, the question really comes down to whether or not we believe God works in the same manner now as he did back then.
Perhaps, God’s wrath being unleashed on the person of Jesus appeased his need to constantly take out his anger like that today.
I really don’t know what caused the earthquake (besides the fact that Haiti rests on a major fault line!)
I could simply be the way of the earth.
Natural disasters happen all the time. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods.
Do we so easily label each occurrence an act of God as many have with Haiti?
Are some disasters a work of God’s plan and sovereignty while others not?
And if so, how can we tell? Does it matter how many lives are lost (the more lives the more reason to think it was God…or just the opposite?)
Does it matter where the disasters hits?
It seems easier to say that places like Haiti (voodoo), New Orleans (voodoo) and Indonesia( Islam) were targets of God’s wrath rather than Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Texas (even though people died there due to floods and storms)
Here is what I do know and have concluded:
For whatever reason, God allowed the earthquake to happen in Haiti. That much seems obvious
I believe there will be great hope restored to the nation that would have never happened were it not for the earthquake.
I have been praying for over 10 years for the eyes of the world to be upon Haiti.
Praying for a change of government.
Praying for the infrastructure and economy to be given a real shot in the arm.
Praying (most importantly and urgently) for the people as a whole to turn to God.
All of these are happening now because of the tragedy last month.
Would I wish the earthquake upon Haiti? By no means!