Mission Matters: Haiti
“The Presbyterian Church is here to stay”
October 2013 - More than three years ago, we asked you to donate to the Presbyterian Mission Agency helping those devastated by the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Now, after returning from a trip to the country to witness the good we have done together through God’s love, I am thankful that Presbyterians trusted the Mission Agency to not only do the immediate work of disaster relief but to remain as partners with Haitians long into the future.
In early October, representatives from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, World Mission, and the Executive Offices of the Presbyterian Mission Agency returned to assess the progress made and the use of donated funds. We came away encouraged by all that has been done.
In the capital city of Port-au-Prince, we met and talked with families who lost their homes and loved ones. I was moved by what I saw happening as a result of Presbyterians’ quick response to the earthquake and our Haitian partners’ ability to connect and aid the people’s need.
We met families who showed us what they were doing to get their lives back to normal, and who expressed their appreciation for the support they’ve received from you. We talked with the children and teachers of St. Vincent School, which Presbyterians helped rebuild with funds and the hard work of congregations on mission trips. It’s one of only five schools for special education in Haiti and is widely considered to be the best. While we were there, classes were just getting underway for the new school year.
We also talked with those helped through the Papaya Farmers Movement (MPP), in the hill country of Haiti. It is there that you helped fund an innovative project to help earthquake survivors build "eco-villages". Those displaced by the earthquake are being given resources to build a home and taught to farm so they might feed their families and earn a living.
I met a young man (pictured left) who was a civil servant at the time of the quake. He lost his home and his family was killed. He described being in Port-au-Prince as “living in a fire.” In a state of shock, he drove up into the highlands. MPP helped him, and now here is a man who knew nothing of farming and lost everything who has become a leader in the eco-villages.
It is not easy for a group of traumatized people to come together -- all from different backgrounds -- and become a community, but MPP has succeeded in helping many families and individuals do just that. Our mission co-worker, Mark Hare, works directly with the community and you can feel the depth of his relationship with the people of Haiti.
The evidence of the healing power of Jesus Christ and Presbyterian involvement is in dozens of examples from Holy Cross Hospital in Léogâne to the schools run by our partners, the Episcopal Church. But, there is still much more to be done.
At a time when most nongovernmental organizations, commonly known as NGO’s, are leaving, we will remain. The church will be there with the Haitian people long after others move onto the next disaster. So, how can you walk with those who most need God’s healing power?
First and foremost, the need for prayer is strong. The number of people affected by trauma is enough to break your heart. Pray for healing, pray for our mission co-workers, pray for the families of Haiti. The need for funds to support rebuilding and our mission workers also remains. And consider organizing a mission trip to Haiti with our mission worker, Suzette Goss-Geffrard. Be a part of a life-changing experience that will strengthen your faith in the power of Jesus Christ.
Together, we are walking with our partners and the people of Haiti as they continue to move toward a place of healing and love.