Keeping Hope Alive for the People of Haiti, Even from Far Away

A Letter from Cindy Corell, based in Haiti, currently in the U.S.

November 2019

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It occurred to me in early November as I scraped ice off the windshield of my sister’s car that I was not where I had planned to be.

Since moving to serve in Haiti in 2013, I’ve carefully planned my trips back to the U.S. – as in, I was not planning to be here when ice coated car windshields. But when answering God’s call, I think that “planning” is really just “hoping.”

I left Haiti at the end of September while the country was in the first weeks of an extended period of violent unrest. I filled my carry-on with shorts, T-shirts and flip flops, and was certain I would be back long before cold weather set in, but again, hoping doesn’t make it so. Following God’s call in very real ways, I’m reminded, means listening and responding in whatever way makes sense.

In Haiti, violent street protests, criminal activity, blocked roads and fuel shortages prevent food and clean water from reaching the people. With rare exceptions, people aren’t able to leave their homes, find food, make money or send their children to school. Most foreign groups that had planned to visit their partners in Haiti have postponed their trips.

The crux of the current instability is a standoff between President Jovenel Moise, who is halfway through his five-year term, and opposition parties and advocacy groups demanding his departure. It has its contemporary roots in the July 2018 protests of a sudden sharp fuel price increase and a budding fury about billions of dollars stolen from government funds earmarked for social programs the people of Haiti desperately need.
There seems no end in sight to the quagmire. Our friends in Haiti struggle to help others who are suffering terribly.

Messages of dire hunger and fear for security leave all of us who love Haiti in deep grief and at a loss for what we can do to help.

In seven weeks of unexpectedly connecting with Presbyterians from Virginia to Indiana to Georgia, I see that we all are growing even more close with our friends in Haiti. Their pain and heartache break our hearts, and we amplify their prayers for change.

The Presbyterians I have spoken to struggle with how to help. And in the midst of it, through our faith in the Lord and Savior our Haitian friends so eloquently and forcefully worship, we know that helplessness does not mean hopelessness.

Our partnerships with Haitian schools, institutions and communities are growing in strength, and not suffering in spite of the current instability. We are learning, once again, that we can accompany the people of Haiti from afar, without yearly or more frequent visits to the beautiful but pain-filled island nation.

The Presbytery of the James in Virginia welcomed me with open hearts and arms just days after I arrived in the U.S. At that time I felt emotionally fragile, and still believed I would soon return to Haiti. Since the 2010 earthquake, members of this Presbytery’s churches have loudly and fervently called for more support for the people of Haiti, even as we mourned death, displacement and despair. Since 2012, delegations from the POJ have visited Haiti, listening to and embracing our friends there, while learning about the root causes of the nation’s deep poverty, and digging into its valiant history.

The conversations I have with Presbyterians in the U.S. are so heartening. One congregation in Fredericksburg, VA, has not yet been able to visit in person with a mountain community they’ve committed to partnering with. I told one of the group’s U.S. leaders how encouraged I am that they have remained faithful in spite of their inability to visit.

“It’s not an inconvenience,” Barry Jones responded. “We know the history of Haiti. After all the people there have been through, we are not bothered by having to wait to be with them.”

A church in northern Indiana was just beginning to explore ways to join hands with people in Haiti when the violence postponed a planned visit. Yet the congregation turned out to pray for and learn more about these new neighbors, yearning more for ways to connect with them.

A church in Atlanta, in lieu of a planned visit, is hosting events to stay in communion with those in Haiti and those who love Haiti so deeply.

I was evacuated from Haiti, a small country of people who I hold in my heart, at a time when they most need encouragement and prayerful support, yet here I am finding solace and growing love for our people there.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your support of our ministry in Haiti, prayerful, financial and deeply personal. Without your love and support, I would not be able to connect on such a deep and faithful level with our sisters and brothers in Haiti. Without your support, my own faith and the faith of so many who build relationships with our partners would not grow as it does.

Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers. Please reach out to join us in continuing the ways we partner there.

With God’s love and the faithful gratitude of myself and the people of Haiti, thank you.

Cindy Corell

Please read this important message from Sara Lisherness, interim director of Presbyterian World Mission

Dear friend of Presbyterian Mission,

Greetings in Christ! As the interim director of Presbyterian World Mission, I am grateful to have the opportunity to thank you for your continued support of PC(USA) mission co-workers.

The enclosed newsletter bears witness to some of the many ways in which God is at work in the world through long-standing relationships between global partners and the PC(USA). These partnerships are nurtured and strengthened by the presence of mission co-workers in over 40 countries; you are an important part of this partnership too, as you learn about and share how our church is involved in global ministry; as you pray for our partners and mission co-workers; and as you take action to work with others for God’s justice, peace and healing.

I write to invite you to continue joining us in partnership in three ways. First, your prayers are always needed. Please pray that God will continue guiding the shared work of the PC(USA) and global partners as we engage together in service around the world. Pray, too, for mission co-workers, that they may feel encouraged in the work they are doing under the leadership of global partners.

Second, please consider making a year-end gift for the sending and support of at least one mission co-worker. There is a remittance form at the end of this letter and an enclosed envelope so that you can send in a special year-end gift.

Finally, I encourage you to ask your session to include one or more mission co-workers in your congregation’s mission budget for 2020 and beyond. PC(USA) mission co-workers’ sending and support costs are funded by the designated gifts of individuals and congregations like yours; your gifts allow Presbyterian World Mission to fulfill global partners’ requests for mission personnel.

Faithfully in Christ,

Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness
Director, Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry
Interim Director, Presbyterian World Mission

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