Originally published Saturday, 16 February 2019.
At the beginning of February 2019, I was in Haiti with a team of other short-term missionaries. I wasn’t surprised at the lack of first world comforts, but what was unanticipated was the ease at which one could play the lottery.
When food, education, and medical care are sparse, the buying of a lottery ticket can feel like hope. A buyer might think here my liberation might be found. If I could be the winner, I may finally find a way to help my dying child, beaten mother, or be the first of my family to live in something with doors and windows. With a lottery kiosk every few blocks, even in the mountains where few people dwell, it is clear Haiti is longing for salvation.
Our team was there to come alongside orphans and those caring for them, to offer biblical wisdom to hurting hearts, and to share the good news that Jesus can rescue souls. What I can see clearly now is that we were also there to encourage and strengthen hearts that would soon enter yet another terrifying trial.
Days after we left, the political protests began. Less than two weeks after we arrived home and found ourselves safe again in the states, the headlines coming out of Haiti look like this: Protests in Haiti turn deadly (Global News), Protesters stone home of Haiti president, clash with police (Washington Post), and ‘Do Not Travel To Haiti,’ U.S. Tells Citizens, Citing Violent Unrest (NPR).
Haiti is a nation that has been promised aid but has found their hopes deferred as money that was intended to rescue is sifted through greedy hands. The corruption that runs rampant through the government has snatched away dreams of development. Foreign Aid feels as far away as the lottery because chances of the funds reaching who they are intended for are slim. The Haitian people find the strength to be bold, not to conquer fear, but in order to survive. They protest because work is hard to find, prices for food are exorbitant, and fuel is scant. They march with hopes that the government might finally hear them.
Venezuela tried to help when they introduced the PetroCaribe program in 2005. The Caricom website defines the program, “The payment system allows for participating nations to buy oil on market value with only a portion paid for upfront and the remainder to be paid through a 25 year financing agreement on 1% interest.” This program was developed so Caribbean countries could use the money they were saving to build up their countries. In addition to the oil deal, the US also sent financial aid. However, it is my understanding that the plan isn’t working for Haiti, because the money is missing and the fuel isn’t being paid for, so the delivery of petrol has slowed to a stop.
Jonathon Gatehouse of CBC News reported, “But no one is quite sure what happened to Haiti’s windfall. The Haitian Senate produced reports in 2016 and 2017 alleging that nearly $2 billion of the money, which was intended for infrastructure and economic development projects, was embezzled or misappropriated.”
The citizens of Haiti have been taught by poverty that they cannot trust their leaders, so they are asking for justice—they are asking for life. An uprising in the face of oppression is not something foreign to the land of Haiti. They gained their independence from France by overthrowing the French to find freedom from slavery and colonial rule in the Haitian Revolution over 200 years ago.
In 2010 after the devastating earthquake that claimed approximately 230,000 lives made world news, relief efforts poured in. Then in 2016 when the winds of hurricane Matthew tore through shanties and homes still unstable from the waves of earth that crashed in years before, we heard again of the plight of souls trying to survive in the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere.
This is not a game Haitian lives are playing, and there is no winning ticket that can offer salvation, but Jesus can. I saw him working powerfully. He is setting people free and binding broken hearts. He is breaking chains of oppression and rescuing people from darkness. God’s people are housing orphans and training them to be leaders who love the Lord, so that the next generation of Haitians are equipped to change their country.
I heard of the conditions before we voyaged to Haiti, but now I have walked on her land and know her precious people. It’s beautiful. It’s hard. It’s worth taking the time to understand. I’ve seen the pain that is littered across this would be paradise and can petition God to come to the aid of people whose names I know—whose eyes I’ve looked into.
My heart is wrecked in a sacred way, and I know I must pray. Each morning I am searching through the latest news out of Haiti and seeking God for justice. Each night these names I didn’t know a month ago leave my lips and voyage to the throne of God.
Will you join me in boldly praying for this country? Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Haiti is in a time of need and we must pray for mercy and grace. If you don’t know how to pray, I’ve got you covered. Jesus, we pray:
*For aid to reach the Haitian people.
*For the violence to cease and for there to be real peace. Peace that comes from justice done, not just for things to grow quiet.
*For the people of Haiti that they can find food and water as supply routes are cut off.
*For the missionaries on the ground. That they would have the wisdom to know if, when, and how to evacuate.
*For lots of sun so that solar panels work, since there is no other power currently.
*For the government to be purified of the corruption that has weakened the whole country.
*For the protection of and provision for the girls at Faith House Orphanage and the people who work with them.
*For Christians in Haiti to be able to share the reason for the hope within them.
*For righteous government officials to rise up and lead.
*For the hold of voodoo to be broken and for the power of God to heal.
*That God would pour out his mercy on this country and move in ways we could never imagine.
Thank you for spending a portion of your day learning about and praying for a country in crisis. Prayer is more powerful than we realize and it is easy to remain unaware, but as one of my new Haitian friends reminded me just over a week ago, ansanm nou fo– together we are strong.
With Jesus, we are even stronger.
Chara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at iBelieve and her words have appeared at Christianity Today’s Women Leaders, Crosswalk, (in)courage, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, Facebook, and Twitter.