Haiti was thrown into the public spotlight recently under unfortunate circumstances when it was alleged that President Trump called Hait a "s--hole country.” It is disputed whether that comment was made, but it is not disputed that more than a few Americans have an attitude of aversion toward Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Friday I head off to Haiti with a group from New Life. It will be my first time in Haiti, but Haiti has been close to my heart for many years. Our church in Princeton had a close relationship with Haiti and we have a friend who currently serves as a missionary in Haiti I have been hoping to be able to visit for many years.
I would be grateful for your partnership in prayer as we deepen our partnership with Cross to Light Ministries. Cross to Light trains up indigenous pastors and has planted dozens of churches in Haiti (below is a picture of Pastor Kyle with students at the Bible Training Center from a previous trip). I look forward to teaching at the center with Pastor Kyle, helping at medical clinics in the tent cities and villages, and assisting in construction projects.
Haiti has struggled as a people and country for over two hundred years. Along with extreme poverty, the country is continuously ravaged by corrupt government, earthquakes, and tropical storms. Many remember the earthquake in 2010 which killed over 300,000 people and left 1.5 million people homeless. Last year, hurricane Matthew killed over 1,000 people, destroyed roads and bridges, and left farmlands barren. This September, hurricane Irma wiped out many farms and livestock.
Our tendency is to respond to these sobering facts with either pity or superiority. Both responses are poisonous. Instead, we are called look at each human being individually and each culture collectively for their unique beauty and dignity. Following Trump’s alleged comments, my friend serving in Haiti said that the Haitians are “one of the most beautiful and resilient peoples in the world.” A Haitian friend similarly reflected, “Eight years ago today I cried over the devastating earthquake that hit my beloved Haiti… We were resilient then and we stand even stronger now.”
I can’t wait to meet new brothers and sisters in Haiti and learn from their resilience and be united with them in heart. I can’t wait to see unexpected beauty in Haiti, and perhaps, to even see the sin in our own country with clearer eyes. Through the lens of righteousness, after all, we are all s---hole countries, mired in our own sin and brokenness.
I say this not with a lack of gratitude for America or out of self-loathing, but rather with sober-mindedness.
Two thousand years ago, something similar was said of Nazareth. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”[i] they asked. Can anything good come out of Haiti? Can anything good come out of America? Not without the power of God.
May we not see as the world sees, but instead see God's purposes for every place, high and low alike. As Isaiah says, “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low.”[ii] The mountain is not owed its elevation, and the valley is not cursed to always lay low. May God give us his eyes to see this world and his people.
I hope, by his grace, to see just a little more as God does after this trip: both the valleys and the mountains.