I’m going to make today’s blog like a personal letter to all of you. I want to talk about (of course) real hope. I tell folks all the time that Jesus is the hope of the world, but being saved in eternity may not necessarily impact somebody’s life today. There are many who are suffering on a daily basis, and we who have so much in these United States don’t always think about those in other countries who have it far worse than we do. The poorest in our society cannot even relate to starving people in Africa, and other places. Today, I read the latest email blast from International ChildCare Ministries (ICCM), an organization we support, and they put the spotlight on Haiti.
I was in Haiti almost two years ago, and the team I was with helped rebuild a church that was badly damaged in the earthquake (Jan. 12, 2010). Haiti’s problems are many, but the hardest thing of all is figuring where to start in restoring a people who have lost hope. The island is plagued with disease, hunger, poor water, deforestation, drought alternating with seasonal floods, the list could go on. Haiti was once “The Jewel of the Caribbean” and was quite prosperous. Being one of the earliest colonies to fight for and win their independence from France, they were left to “Die on the vine” as they suffered under one corrupt government after another.
Gradually Haiti slipped into a morass of human suffering, refusing to deal with the problems they faced in a forthright manner. They received little, if any, outside help in the period leading up to the 1970’s when it was already too late to save much of the island’s trees. With the trees went the soil, then the agriculture, then the runoff killed the fish in the waters surrounding the island. The combination of all those factors led people to be desperate for jobs (and food!), thus an influx of population into the only major city where manufacturing jobs were to be found (Port Au Prince).
But overcrowding soon gave way to gangs, violence, drugs, the usual. Following that, other countries finally stepped in to deal with the humanitarian crisis by offering food (and other) aid. Factories were created where cheap labor abounded and a variation on the Maquiladora Industry became the salvation of a few. Jobs were still scarce, but more and more came to the city in hopes of even $2/day jobs.
Then, in 2010, as you are well aware, the earthquake struck. Fully three quarters of the buildings in downtown were toppled. In the outlying areas of the city, and even 10 miles away, buildings fell, and many were killed. Exact numbers will never be known. I was there with a team from the Free Methodist Mission’s Organization (Friends Of Haiti Organization) in Mar/April and the devastation was still overwhelming. Hundreds of bodies were still buried in the rubble in and around the church where we worshiped. The church we helped rebuild was right across the way from a UN refugee camp that was being built to house about 5,000 people. The rainy seasons came and diseases came, and still the people suffered.
Where is the hope? Where are real practical solutions for these people?
I have found some, people like Singing Rooster who work with the coffee industry in Haiti, others who go back and help rebuild, some from the team I was with have been back several times. I was intrigued while there to find that the Eden Reforestation Project (ERP) was trying to help out in Haiti as well. To date, the ERP has planted nearly 30 million trees world-wide! That’s in just less than 10 years! That organization came about as a result of a Pastor from Ethiopia coming to the US and pleading for help with his country where deforestation had caused much the same type of devastation as has taken place in Haiti.
But, the results of replanting trees – and a forest – are amazing! You can see those results online at:
You can even donate there. We do, I’m going to try to give $10 / month, because we don’t have much to give right now. But, according to the web site, $10 supports a worker for one day, and helps them plant 100 trees! This will eventually be the solution for Haiti as well, since it has worked so well in Ethiopia and Madagascar. We can expand this model as well to other places that are ravaged by deforestation and the ensuing devastation. Together we can make it happen. We cannot sit around waiting for governments or corporations – or the UN – to come up with these solutions to the world’s problems – we know what we should so and we must do it now! This is the most tangible hope we have – to be the hands and feet of the church helping each other out even though we may live on opposite sides of the globe.
You can read about ICCM in their “Tuesday’s Child” weekly update through the following link:
I pray you will all consider this and think about helping. Consider getting a child to sponsor as well. It’s only $25/month. Our child was in Nigeria, but unfortunately, she and her family moved on, they were apparently nomadic. They were Fulani (Muslim) too, and those people desperately need our help and our love. I pray you will consider helping planting trees, or help a child get food, water and education, or both! Or if you’re a coffee drinker as I am, and you love GREAT coffee, then visit Singing Rooster and buy some of their excellent “Haitian Bleu” coffee, that will support the coffee industry in Haiti directly. You can visit them:
This is real hope.
May the Lord bless you this day.