God’s Word in Haiti
After visiting Haiti in November 2009 and February 2001, I returned in June 2010 to see how best to help gospel preachers and the literature outreach of Europresse (French EP) there after the earthquake.
I found Port-au-Prince dramatically changed. Everywhere there were collapsed buildings and rubble, much of which probably still contain dead bodies. There were tents erected in every available space, even down the central reservation of one of the main roads.
Most people are living in tents, still too frightened to live inside the remaining buildings. Only 1 per cent of the promised aid has reached Haiti as yet, and the massive amount of clearing and rebuilding work to be done is overwhelming. The presidential palace was destroyed with many government officials inside, so there is hardly any government in operation.
Amidst all this, life tries to go on as usual. I was able to meet up with most of the students in Port-au-Prince who are active on the Cours de formation continue preachers’ training course. Most of them have lost their homes, but the believers do not complain about their situation.
One example is Jean-David, who is living with his wife and six children in a tiny tent, with his widowed sister and her four children in a similar tent next door. I was able to pass some gifts directly to some of the men to help them.
Plans had already been set in motion before the earthquake to co-ordinate the Cours de formation continue course for Haiti students, using the Emmaus Christian bookshop in Port-au-Prince.
In the goodness of the Lord, despite all the buildings around being reduced to rubble, that bookshop is still standing and once again in operation.
The postal system is practically non-existent (the main post office is now three slabs of concrete), so I put everything to do with the course on to a laptop computer which I left at the bookshop, so that students can visit the bookshop and download their next lessons, including the audio elements on to their mp3 players.
The new secretary there seems very efficient and able to help the students with this. Everything needs to be fine-tuned, but at least it is in operation.
The Emmaus bookshop has already received many Europresse books and, despite the earthquake, was able to sell a large number of these between January and May. Such sales were totally unexpected over such a traumatic period.
I was able to spend three afternoons in the bookshop and saw a constant stream of customers. We are considering sending another large consignment of Europresse books in the autumn. There is a great need for good reformed literature.
During my stay, I had many opportunities to preach, sometimes several times a day. ‘Religion’ is rampant, but the people are completely unused to preaching that is totally based on the Bible, and we pray this will be a challenge to them.
The students themselves need to be fired with a vision for preaching a Christ-centred gospel, and also disseminating reformed books around Haiti.
I hope to return to Haiti before too long and possibly visit some outlying towns, such as Jean-Rabel and Port-de-Paix. Some of our students live here, but travel around Haiti is still very difficult and dangerous for a white man.