Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know about the two major earthquakes that recently struck the incredibly poor and poverty-stricken nation of Haiti. The first one occurred last week Monday, and a second occurred last week Wednesday. The devastation and suffering the people of Haiti are experiencing is almost incomprehensible to us living in America. Here are some shocking statistics regarding Haiti that I found online. (Keep in mind these statistics are from BEFORE the recent earthquakes!)
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere:
80% live in poverty
54% lack clean water
48% cannot read
66% are unemployed
The average life expectancy is
* Statistics taken from http://www.haiti-micah.org/hai
Those statistics are from the best time of times in Haiti, so you can imagine what these recent earthquakes have done to an already suffering people. I believe that there is something all of us can do in the tragedy.
I truly hope that something good will come out of this tragedy. I also hope that churches will do their part to send teams to serve in Haiti. People who are willing to see some horrible things and to get their hands dirty. People are willing to love and serve these people who are in such desperate need of help. I truly believe this is what Jesus would have us do. But I also know that not everyone is able to serve in such a direct way.
I think we should give sacrificially to Aid organizations. A simple internet search will reveal multiple excellent organizations that are donating money and giving aid to this cause. My local credit union is collecting donations. Maybe your local bank is doing the same. If not, ask them if they would be willing to. We could also speak to our pastor about this. Maybe we could even get permission for a special collection. Another idea would be to organize a fund drive on our own, or with a group of friends. Even a little bit can make a huge difference in a situation like this. Remember, Jesus doesn't care about the size of the gift. He cares about our motivation for giving even more.
Third, even if we are not able to do any of the above things, there is something that we all can and should do. That is pray. These people are in desperate need of prayer. We should allow God to break our hearts and truly care about these people. So often, I am guilty of turning to prayer only as a last resort, and only after exhausting all my own ideas. But that is not how it should be. We should turn to prayer FIRST. No matter how angry we might be or how much we are hurting, we can always be honest with God. In fact, I believe He wants us to be honest with Him. Over the course of my life, I have come to believe that God is big enough to handle anything we can throw at Him. His love and His character will never change. The Bible says that God hears the cry of the poor. But the question is do we? I don't know how many of you have seen the movie "Amazing Grace" If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it. but after the movie, there is a quote from William Wilberforce that always cuts me to the quick. This quote was orginally made in regards to slavery, but I think it applies here as well. If you cut to the quick by this quote, I encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him what He would have you do.
"Having heard all this, you may choose to look the other way. But you can never again say you did not know." William Wilberforce
I recently came across online from a well-known Christian celebrity. At first, I couldn't believe it was really true. But sadly, it was. It is from famous televangelist Pat Robertson. Now, to be honest, I have never been a big fan of Pat Robertson. I very much disagree with his views on a lot of things and especially his teachings about wealth and prosperity (but that's a different blog)
But shortly after the first Haitian earthquake occured, Pat Robertson directly quoted as saying Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil...But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other." There is a video available on YouTube that features the quote in question. But it will make you incredibly angry.)
I was absolutely appalled that someone who calls himself a Christian could make a statement like that. Really? I mean, come on. There is no doubt about it. Haiti does have a long history of practicing voodoo. But that doesn't mean that they deserved to get hit by a major earthquake. Even reading this quote now makes me angry. But it also breaks my heart. It makes me wonder how many other Christians are thinking the same thing, but would never say it. We call ourselves Christians, but then refuse to live the way that Jesus did. Jesus frequently hung out with drunks, prostitutes, and other "sinners". If Jesus were alive today, I believe He would seek out and minister to the "undesirable" people of today. There is not a person alive (yes, even Christians) who do not have a checkered past or who haven't rebelled against God in some way. There are some people who go all out with their rebellion. But I believe there are many others whose rebellion is much more subtle and hidden. But the point is, its all the same to God. The same is true of countries. Even the United States has a less than stellar past. I mean, there was a time in this country when we subjected black people to discrimination, segregation, racism, and even lynchings. This is just one example. Anyone who knows anything about American History knows that there are many other equally disturbing examples from our own country's history.
One thing I love about the Bible is it's unvarnished truth. It tells stories that put God's people (and the disciples) in a less than flattering light. According to my study Bible, it was a common belief at the time that disaster and sudden death signified divine displeasure over certain sins (hmmm...where have we heard that before?) But Jesus soundly refutes that belief. You can read the story for yourself in Luke 13: 2-4
Jesus in verse 4 says "Do you suppose that those 18 people on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all who live in Jerusalem? I tell you NO! (emphasis mine)
Over the course of my life, there have been many times when I have found myself asking God "Why?" But I have discovered something. More often that not, that is a question that God will not answer. Even if He did, we probably still wouldn't accept His reasons for allowing certain things. God doesn't punish us for asking why. But I have come to believe that asking why is the wrong question. We should be more concerned about what God wants to teach us or what He wants to do in and through us. We are supposed to be the hands, feet, and most of all hearts of Jesus in this world. We are NOT supposed to turn away and say "Well...they made their bed, let them lie in it." or "Wow, they must have done something really bad to deserve that." That is not the point. We would all be in serious trouble if God gave us what we deserve. But fortunately for us, God has chosen to show us grace, love, and mercy. But He has given us those things to share with others, not to hoard selfishly for ourselves. I am not trying to point fingers. I am as guilty as anyone else of these things of things.
In closing, I want to share one final section of text from the Bible. 2nd Corinthians 1:3-7 (NASB)
Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.
I encourage to you keep the country of Haiti in your prayers and do whatever you can (or whatever God asks you to do) to help.