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Hurting in Haiti

Haiti needs our prayers, not hashtag activism.
The assassination of Haitian President, Jovenel Moise on July 7 got the world’s attention, but the perpetual plight of the Haitian people should be what holds it.

The world’s eyes are on the government of this afflicted nation. But can we, having seen the destitution of the Haitian people, remain indifferent towards the continual tragedy on our doorstep? Can we pretend that we never saw it?

Unfortunately, experience shows that the answer is a resounding yes.

In the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, we had a similar fixation on the country as it dominated the news media cycle. That interest soon faded and the Haitian people’s lives continued unchanged.

We follow the media’s cues and forget the past as soon as it is out of sight. We’re like the man who looks into the mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like (see James 1:23-24).

It’s easy to follow along as the mainstream media speculates as to who assassinated President Moise and why or to decry the lack of COVID-19 vaccinations in Haiti. But God has called us to more than social media outrage and hashtag activism.

The uncomfortable truth is that, far too often, we become conditioned only to care about tragedies while they’re in the news cycle, and we tend to distance ourselves from the troubles of those who live with the consequences.

My friend Ismael, a Haitian national and ABWE missionary, recently told me, “The problems in Haiti are obvious . . . murder has become commonplace, kidnapping is on the rise in all major cities and villages, corruption thrives, even among the political leaders, while the country’s economic situation keeps declining.”

Ismael believes that the general suffering and lawlessness in Haiti is inseparable from the web of events leading to the president’s assassination.

“This socio-political chaos and anarchy eventually led to the assassination of our Haitian president, leaving the country with no real sense of direction.”

These are continual problems and deserve more than a passing glance—they deserve our action.

US aid cannot replace what God has called individual followers of Christ to do. God’s mission can’t be delegated to the government. We in the US know all too well how often our leaders fail us. Only the church can address human suffering while proclaiming the culture-transforming hope of Christ.

The late Chuck Colson once asked rhetorically, “Where is the hope?” His answer to the question was quite right: “Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people, and that’s where our hope is in this country; that’s where our hope is in life.”

And that solution doesn’t just mean involving American Christians and their churches. Haitian believers—who see the problems firsthand—must be at the center of the solution, applying the gospel to their context.

That’s why missions organizations like ABWE exist. Our missionaries have been on the ground, witnessed disorder firsthand and are building partnerships with nationals to spread the love of Christ.

While much focus is on the vaccination efforts in Haiti right now, other spiritual ills will still be there when COVID is behind us. Haiti had 787 murders in 2019 alone. In comparison, to date, there are about 487 deaths in Haiti attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID is not Haiti’s only problem. We must address the deeper issues—issues for which the only lasting solutions are spiritual. This demands a response from believers in Christ.

Our missionaries have identified two immediate things every person can do to help Haiti. The first is to commit to pray for the Haitians, missionaries in Haiti, and for the nation’s repentance and restoration. The second is to find a reliable Christian organization with missionaries and nationals on the ground to partner with.

Public agencies don’t hold all the answers. Christ is the king of the nations (Revelation 1:4-5). The developing world will not be healed apart from his reign, which he extends through his people and their witness. May we embrace our call to care and act.

About the Authors

Alex Kocman is the Director of Advancement and Communications for ABWE. He serves as general editor for Message Magazine and co-hosts The Missions Podcast. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University and a youth pastor in Pennsylvania, where he now resides with his wife and three children. He was also Director of Long-Term Mobilization for ABWE from 2016-2020. Read his blog or follow him on Twitter.

Chris Kalbach is philosopher and a veteran and is currently a digital communications specialist with ABWE.

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