A Letter from Cindy Corell, serving in Haiti
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How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
— Psalm 13
Not long ago I shared an update on Haiti with a group on Zoom. I recounted the history of Haiti, and how its inhabitants who were enslaved under the French rose up against oppression and fought to create the first free Black republic in 1804.
I shared how in the following decades the White-ruled world refused to trade with this Black nation, and then the French had the temerity to force this young nation without resources of trade to pay 91 million francs or face invasion and re-enslavement. I revealed how it took 122 years, but the Haitians paid this unconscionable “reparation” — $23 billion by today’s standard — to their former captors.
I then guided my audience through more than a century of the White-ruled world failing to recognize Haiti, occupation, taking over of its banks and predatory loans, all the way up to current events which include massive inflation, unrelenting and unfettered crime, a lack of government and a continued failure of the international community to support a Haitian-led solution to this fatal chaos.
As I ended, a man asked this question, “After all you have shared with us, how do you see hope for a solution for the people of Haiti?”
“God,” I replied.
And even I could hear the question mark at the end of my response.
“How long, O Lord?”
I’ve learned many lessons since loving Haiti. The one that most surprised me is how fragile my faith is. I’m no Job. I’ve doubted God more in the past few months than in my life. I knew that serving as a mission co-worker would be hard. I just had no idea how hard. And for how long.
I catch myself in these moments. I have every privilege a person could have. I live in a nice home in Virginia. I have too much to eat. When I flip a light switch, there is light. When I turn the faucet, clean water pours out. I have a salary and a bank account.
Fuel here in the U.S. is expensive, but a gallon of gas doesn’t cost $12 to $15 as it does in Haiti.
I can walk safely down the street without fear.
What right have I to complain, much less doubt God?
Thankfully, I have learned the answer to this question. And surprise, surprise, the ones to teach are my friends in Haiti.
“I think by December, you should be able to come home,” one friend wrote me this week. He’s 21 years old, and a burgeoning entrepreneur. I won’t name him here because of security concerns in Haiti.
“Oh yeah? What makes you think that?”
“I believe this in the name of the Father,” he wrote back. “The situation in the country is bad for my businesses.”
In this guy’s neighborhood and most of Port-au-Prince, it takes courage to leave the house, go to school, go find food for the family. Stories of horrible crimes are everywhere. I received prayer requests for another young man who was caught up in violence on his way home from university one night this week. While he lay in safety behind a pile of rubble in the pouring rain, he heard a crowd chase down another man and kill him.
In Haiti, there is trauma upon trauma.
The work I continue to do from Virginia is in advocacy – urging members of Congress to respect the Haitian-led solutions that are underway. I attend Zoom meetings, network, and speak with our partners in Haiti. But none of that seems enough, especially while so much violence and hunger happen every day.
But my young friend reminds me again that what we must focus on is our future – no matter how foggy or blurry it seems to us now. He has businesses to nurture, and a life to build. He simply cannot believe that it will be impossible. Not with God.
“How long, O Lord?” the Psalmist cries. But the Psalmist knows what my young friend knows.
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
My young friend sent me a photo of a T-shirt he’s designed, one of his businesses. And I remember his words:
“I believe this in the name of the Father.”
I doubt I will be home by December. But until then, I will keep my eyes on the future, one that is bright and will be brighter when my young friend’s businesses flourish.
It is not simply in the work that creates our hope. It is not simply faith that keeps us going. But it is in relationships that we have the assurance that we all will overcome. And if that’s not where we find our hope, I don’t know what is.
I believe all this in the name of God.
I also want to thank each of you for your steadfast faith and generous support of our ministries in Haiti. I yearn for the day I will be home again, and until then, I am grateful for you accompanying me wherever I am!
Remember that I am available to share information with you in person or online. I look forward to being with you!
Please read the following letter from Rev. Mienda Uriarte, acting director of World Mission:
Dear Partners in God’s Mission,
What an amazing journey we’re on together! Our call to be a Matthew 25 denomination has challenged us in so many ways to lean into new ways of reaching out. As we take on the responsibilities of dismantling systemic racism, eradicating the root causes of poverty and engaging in congregational vitality, we find that the Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout World Mission. Of course, the past two years have also been hard for so many as we’ve ventured through another year of the pandemic, been confronted with racism, wars and the heart wrenching toll of natural disasters. And yet, rather than succumb to the darkness, we are called to shine the light of Christ by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.
We are so grateful that you are on this journey as well. Your commitment enables mission co-workers around the world to accompany partners and share in so many expressions of the transformative work being done in Christ’s name. Thank you for your partnership, prayers and contributions to their ministries.
We hope you will continue to support World Mission in all the ways you are able:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel (E132192). This unified fund supports the work of all our mission co-workers as they accompany global partners in their life-giving work. Gifts can also be made “in honor of” a specific mission co-worker – just include their name on the memo line.
Pray – Include PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners in your daily prayers. If you would like to order prayer cards as a visual reminder of those for whom you are praying, please contact Cindy Rubin (email@example.com; 800-728-7228, ext. 5065).
Act – Invite a mission co-worker to visit your congregation either virtually or in person. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make a request or email the mission co-worker directly. Email addresses are listed on Mission Connections profile pages. Visit pcusa.org/missionconnections to search by last name.
Thank you for your consideration! We appreciate your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Acting Director
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
To give, please visit https://bit.ly/22MC-YE.
For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
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