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Haunted by Haiti
As the images started coming in after the earthquake, I became haunted by Haiti. The pictures of dead bodies piled in the streets, parents carrying their limp children, and appendages stretching out from underneath rubble were everywhere. On every channel, every website, and every cardio machine at the gym. I know you saw them also. Suddenly, our lives seemed so simple and so blessed. Whatever had troubled us before we were haunted by Haiti suddenly shrank in significance as the reality of true pain and massive suffering pressed itself before our eyes and into our hearts. On Thursday morning James MacDonald, who leads a wonderful church and Bible-preaching ministry, called me to brainstorm some ideas he had to get involved and help direct other pastors and churches to do the same. As our conversations, texts, and emails continued, by the day’s end we had decided to take a trip together to Haiti. He had secured transportation and an initial delivery of 1,000 pounds of relief supplies. From Mars Hill we gathered a small filmmaking crew and a Pulitzer Prize finalist photographer who has covered events in Kosovo, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Rwanda while working for Time magazine, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe, who volunteered to go with us. We had also made contact with a number of other pastors in the US wanting to help out, as well as the president of World Concern, which shares a facility with one of our Mars Hill Campuses, and a handful of other ministries that are doing great work helping those in need and that could really use your help. We were stunned by the gracious provision of God as Jesus truly provided the resources for this mission in rapid succession, and we take no credit for it but are thankful to be on it. As an aside, you can also pray for Merry Fitzpatrick of Mars Hill Shoreline who is helping coordinate the field work in Haiti right now. So, on Sunday a pre-recorded sermon will play at the Ballard Campus of Mars Hill Church while we are en route to Haiti. If you would like to know how to pray, the following would be appreciated:
- Pray that we can get into the country and are able to travel safely.
- Pray that we are able to get the plane full of medical and relief supplies effectively distributed to those in need.
- Pray that we can serve where we are needed, as reports indicate that so many pastors are dead and churches destroyed that those Christians seeking to grieve and serve need much support.
- Pray that we can forge some solid bonds with the best local churches and international relief agencies on the ground.
- Pray we can get some great stories on video about what God is doing in order to help encourage God’s people around the world to be generous and help those in need.
- Pray we can get great photos and other video footage to give away online, to give to Christian agencies who could use it to help get the need out, and to give to mainstream media outlets showing the difference the church and God’s people are making as well as all that remains to be done. There has been a great deal of great media coverage, and we want to add to it some of the stories of God’s people doing God’s work to encourage more of God’s people to support that work.
- Pray for the ongoing generosity of people around the world sending in support and supplies.
- Pray for the complicated task of getting supplies to needy people when roads are not passable, and only a quarter of the country’s roads were paved before the earthquake.
- Pray for the hearts, minds, and souls of the people, who are reportedly 80 percent Catholic and 16 percent Protestant, while roughly 50 percent also practice voodoo.
- Pray for the rebuilding of the city of Port-au-Prince as prior to the earthquake it was the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with 80 percent of people under the poverty line and 54 percent in abject poverty with a Gross Domestic Product per capita of only $1,300 with two-thirds of the labor force not even having a formal job.
- Pray for protection for disease, as the spread of hepatitis A and E, typhoid, malaria, leptospirosis, and dengue fever is a reality as conditions worsen.
- Pray against civil unrest that would further promote chaos.
- Pray for the government, which has lost many of its buildings and leaders.
- Pray for the safety of the people, since some of the jails and prisons are now emptied and dangerous criminals are running the streets without police patrol to contain them.
- Pray we get home safely and can take what we learn to help encourage churches and Christians to strategically pray and give of their resources for the long haul, as this will not be a short rebuilding effort.
- Pray for the children as roughly half of Haiti’s population is reportedly children.
- Pray that Christians will help bolster the remaining churches in Haiti and support the planting of many more Jesus-centered churches so that the people of Haiti can see the gospel rise out of the devastation.
- Pray for us as a plan is forming for churches helping churches in places where war and disaster have struck.
Lastly, I am hesitant to post any of this because it may not come to fruition in light of the great complexity of the mission we are on. But I felt that our best hope was prayer, and so thank you for interceding. Our hope is to serve those ministries and organizations who are helping those in need and helping partner God’s people to places of strategic gospel opportunity. If you would like to support the rebuilding of churches and resourcing of pastors in Haiti, you can find more information or give at www.churcheshelpingchurches.org.