Pray for Haiti!

The Beacon - March/April 2012

By Rachel DeKuiper • From our March/April 2012 newsletter

Poverty. Destruction. Faith. Hope. All of these themes resonate in the country of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Haiti twice and will travel there again in July with team members from Rockford Reformed Church.

But right now, I’m not in Haiti. I’m here in Rockford, Michigan. I’m sitting on my comfy couch with a roof over my head, a computer in my lap, and my children, clothed and clean, playing a game at my feet. I have a glass of water at my side, cheese and crackers for a snack, and brownies in the oven. I should be at peace with all of this, but I’m not, because there’s a part of me that feels guilty that my friends in Haiti do not have access to the very things I take for granted every day. They don’t have access to the most basic of human needs: clean water, food, clothing, and shelter. Every day they struggle simply to survive and have these needs met.

This doesn’t mean that Haitians have given up on life or lost hope. They are some of the most faithful people I have ever seen. Starting at the end of January and running through February, Haiti celebrates Carnaval. This is a time of jubilation and is one of the major holidays celebrated in Haiti. In many parts of this country, parades, music, dancing, singing, and parties are taking place. People are happy, hopeful, and proud of their Haitian culture.

Carnaval is also considered the holiest time of year in Haiti. Prior to the earthquake on January 12, 2010, people from around the world would come to Haiti to meditate, pray, and ask for forgiveness. In some parts of the country, this tradition continues. But in other areas, the dark side of Carnaval is revealing itself now more than ever.

Voodoo worship has been associated with this country since the slave trade, when African religion and culture was suppressed. Now, menacing displays of voodoo can be seen and heard on the streets as participants seek to exorcise their demons. During the time of Carnaval, its prevalence is especially clear since it is the main religion of this country. For Christians in Haiti, this can be a particularly unsettling time. Christians can be targeted and attacked because of their faith. This is true for the organization that I have been blessed to work with the last few years.

The Haiti Foundation Against Poverty (HFAP) has overcome many obstacles since it was founded in 2007 by Mallery Neptune, the biggest being the earthquake in January of 2010, and the most recent being the violence taking place during Carnaval. During the most recent event, Mallery has seen a roadside business district burn, heard the sounds of animal sacrifice, and has had her faith challenged daily. Mallery recently quoted a Chris McClarney song, “And when the oceans rage, I don’t have to be afraid. Because I know that you love me. Your love never fails.”

Despite the fact that there are often times of doubt and fear, the organization has remained committed to this country, its people, and the projects that bring hope and opportunity to both. HFAP’s Les Bours School of Hope continues to grow and now serves well over 200 students. The medical clinic located there provides healthcare for the students and tent communities in the area.

Hope House, HFAP’s orphanage, is almost back to where it was pre-earthquake. The walls are up, and we are waiting to get our construction containers out of customs so that we can finish the roof. If all goes well, the new orphanage will be completely done by June and providing safe living conditions to some of Haiti’s youngest citizens. Currently Hope House exists, but in a “container” the size of the back of a semi-truck.

The Gift of Hope women’s program continues to be beacon of hope to women that want to do the right thing, to take care of their children and provide for them. This program combines business and Bible study and gives Haitian women the tools they need to care for their families.

Poverty. Destruction. Faith. Hope. Haiti is still the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and it is still overwhelmed by the destruction of the 2010 earthquake, but the Haitian people have faith and hope that God will provide and give them the tools they need to recover and flourish. Rockford Reformed Church is listening too. We are listening and praying that we can provide opportunities that will meet the needs of the faithful. We are praying that we can be a beacon of hope to a faraway land. Lapriye’ pou Ayiti! Pray for Haiti!

To stay up-to-date on HFAP happenings, visit their website at haitipoverty.org or receive blog updates at haitifoundationagainstpoverty.blogspot.com. They are currently in need of child sponsors. Become a “godparent” for a child in Haiti and literally save their life for just $30 a month!

A team from RRC is going to Haiti in July. You can help by assembling a hygiene kit for the team to distribute in the tent cities. More information can be found by the church mailboxes.

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