The aftershocks can still be felt from the earthquake devastation that decimated the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti. As the reality of the situation sets in, images of leveled buildings, mass graves holding hundreds of thousands of the dead, and orphaned children wandering the streets in search of missing mothers and fathers shock those who are brave enough to look upon the horrific images.
As if to add more insult to injury, basic First Aid, food, and water have been in short supply as global first responders have been increasingly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need. Rich Stearns, President of World Vision, frequently updated his Twitter account on the ground in Haiti and wrote, “You have enough food for 1000, but there are 10,000 people at the distribution site, it is very difficult to control the crowd. One of our biggest challenges right now is distributing food without causing a riot.”
This isn’t to say that the outpouring of generosity has not been felt in Haiti…because it has. But, it is to say that the magnitude of the situation is on a scale that many could not anticipate or even imagine. Additionally, the scope and scale of this catastrophe is not something that can easily be put back together in a few weeks. In fact, this is what gives me the greatest concern.
When the attention span of the average American is accustomed to the fast-paced and ever-changing news cycle, will our interest in this poor, ravaged country wane as quickly as it grabbed our attention when it happened? Will our hearts still break for the traumatized individuals, families, and orphans after all of the dead are buried and when the rebuilding begins? Will we pass by our half-dead brother lying helplessly on the roadside when other matters and other affairs demand our attention?
The truth of the matter is that our half-dead brother needs the sustained support and assistance of a loving and generous friend who will pick him up off of the roadside and help to restore him to good, quality health. Our brother needs someone who has the heart and compassion to extend mercy and to serve with long-suffering and loving kindness until he can stand on his own once and for all.
The truth is that the problems of Haiti are not new problems. They have only been intensified and exacerbated by the earthquakes and are now made visible for the world, especially Americans, to finally see…and to finally come to terms with. Yes, the need in Haiti right now is beyond comprehension, but the need has been great for quite some time.
In our global neighborhood and in the middle of the street in which we live lies a poor brother who has been in need of help for quite sometime…and now needs our help more than ever.
The average Haitian brings in just over $500 annually in the least developed country in our hemisphere, making Haitians among the poorest people in the world. UNICEF reports that sixty percent of Haitians lack basic healthcare. One in three Haitians cannot read or write, while only half of school-aged children attend classes. They also report that Haiti has the highest child mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere.
All of this from a country that is located just 600 miles south of one of the most affluent countries in the history of the world.
So what can you do? You and/or your church can help by praying for and donating to reputable organizations, such as the Red Cross and World Vision among others, which are on the ground and mobilized to meet the most basic needs of the people in first aid, food, water, and shelter. But moving forward, it will be just as equally important, if not more important, for the Church in the Western Hemisphere to take a more active role in being a long-suffering friend and servant to Haiti, not only by helping to piece back together the lives of the people…but by working tirelessly to raise the Haitian quality of life for future generations.
Join the [living] room at 1412 Sycamore Street in Columbus, Indiana for artNITE! on February 6th at 7pm as we join together to raise money for the ongoing relief and aid to Haiti through World Vision (www.worldvision.org)…