Haiti: unexpected joy amid the ruins

Haitians gather for a church service on the earthquake anniversary in front of the capitol building. Photo Credit: Thomas Hurst … Continued


Haitians gather for a church service on the earthquake anniversary in front of the capitol building. Photo Credit: Thomas Hurst for Churches Helping Churches

I am in Haiti with Pastor James MacDonald and Churches Helping Churches on the one year anniversary of the quake. We are hosting a church service in front of what remains of the Capitol for at least 50,000 people according to radio reports. The city remains in ruins and hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless. Most Americans cannot fathom the degree of poverty and complete lack of infrastructure and resources. On top of that, the average person has only a 3rd grade education.

Over a million people in and around Port Au Prince are living in tents, many of them simply made out of old tarps. Haiti literally needs everything and a government that can plan long term as this is not a short fix. The talk on the street among the people is a mounting sense of frustration with the lack of government, but it is not yet turning angry or violent. Amidst of this, the sweetness of the people is amazing. With next to no functioning government military or police force there is peace and kindness among the vast majority of people despite the fact there is garbage everywhere, piles of building rubble remain, virtually nothing is getting rebuilt, and they are bathing with buckets of water in tent cities.

The spiritual response in Haiti has been incredible. The pastors are reporting that more people are becoming Christians, attending church, praying, etc than ever before. Because people are so displaced getting accurate data is impossible but many credible leaders say Haiti is experiencing a revival. Many church buildings were destroyed so congregations are meeting outside and organizations like ours are building new structures to meet in. The streets are filled with people carrying Bibles, singing songs to Jesus, and in the tent cities covering the parks a night impoverished homeless people gather to spend the night singing worship songs filling the air with a sweetness and joy that one would not expect.

Click here for a full recap of the event and to read more about the spiritual temperature of the nation.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hurst for Churches Helping Churches

Mark Driscoll
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  • jdudley

    WNARKW, perhaps you should be thankful for your education, and while your at it, perhaps you could freshen up on your history of the educational infrastructure (i.e. who put it in place) that provided your education, especially universities.

  • spovy26

    @WMARKW I fail to see how a sense of hope could be bad for these people. If they can’t hope in government at home or governments abroad, then why not Jesus? I also fail to see why they’d have to stop attending church in order to get an education. It sounds like the churches in the area have spearheaded education in the past and will continue to do so as reconstruction allows. Also some very educated people are Christians. I’m not in favor or bait and switching people into converting (ie get saved then you can have a meal), but I haven’t heard of any of this happening in Haiti although I’m sure it may be.

  • wayne405

    WMARKW, I agree with most of what you say.People often turn to Jesus when their world falls apart.Improved education would be very good for the Haitian people, although I think that falls more under the category of “building” rather than “rebuilding”.As rebuilding progresses many people will probably stop going to church. However, I think this is due to the illusion of self-sufficiency and is not, by itself, a sign of progress.Would that more of us would recognize our dependence on God and turn to him before our worlds fall apart.

  • MathewBartlett

    Around the throne of God one day will be billions of worshippers from every tribe and nation.It is wonderful to hear of a faith which lives and survives the greatest tragedies.

  • WmarkW

    “The spiritual response in Haiti has been incredible. The pastors are reporting that more people are becoming Christians, attending church, praying etc than ever before. “That’s what people do when their world falls apart.We’ll know rebuilding is succeeding when the people stop going to church and start getting more than a third grade education.