Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

January 12th will mark one year since the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  Those few moments and their aftermath took hundreds of thousands of lives, left many more homeless, and affected countless children in profound and permanent ways, including leaving many as orphans.  The eye of the media has largely moved on to other stories, but the need in Haiti remains as pressing as ever.

Of course, there are as many unique callings and places to serve as there are Christians in the world.  We certainly should not feel guilty that we can’t all focus on Haiti.  But still, if we felt ache and anguish in the days following the earthquake, we would do well not to quickly forget.  To do so merely mirrors the world’s sad and harmful pattern: to feel deeply yet act little and persevere even less.

The true disciple of Christ consistently matches compassionate emotion with both loving action and loving perseverance, just as the Good Samaritan both cared for the wounded traveler and also promised to return later to cover his future medical bills.  Even if our primary calling is to Russia or Cambodia or foster youth in the U.S., we can remain faithful in prayer to Haiti.

I’m tremendously thankful that Scott Vair and the others at World Orphans felt a desire to gather Christians virtually on the earthquakes’ anniversary to pray for Haiti.  We invite you to join with us and others members of the Christian Alliance for Orphans community on January 12th, 2011 at 4:00pm EST for one hour via “webinar.”  Led by a number of orphan advocates, we will be praying together for the country of Haiti, for stability and integrity in its government, for ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts, for the Haitian church, and for the children of Haiti we all care about so much.

Registration is required, and you can do so today here.

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The last twelve months, not unlike the twelve months prior…or the twelve months prior to that, have produced a slew of tragedies.  In just the first 4+ months of 2010 there have been earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Indonesia, Turkey, California, Spain & China – with an estimated 230,000 lost lives from these quakes.  2010 has brought avalanches in northwestern Pakistan, flooding & mudslides in Portugal & in Rio de Janeiro, & landslides in eastern Uganda.  There have been multiple plane crashes – the two with the most casualties include a Polish military jet going down and killing 96 on board & an Ethiopian flight crashing and killing 90.  If statistics are playing out as they have in previous years (and they are), then in the first quarter of 2010 over 2.25 million children will have died of preventable disease before their fifth birthday – half of them in Africa alone.  Within 24 hours of this blog post another 24,000 will have perished.

But there is another tragedy occurring – and it’s happening as you read this post right now. And it’s happening to me as I write this post.  It is the tragedy of being less and less moved by the loss of life, the destruction & the carnage described in the first paragraph. It is the reality that our hearts are burdened enough by the suffering in our own lives and most of us don’t have the capacity, the desire, or the will to allow ourselves to enter into the suffering of those outside our immediate context on a day after day basis.  We are saturated with the suffering of others as day after day images of tragedies flash across our TVs, our computer monitors & our iPhones.  Day after day we hear of tragedy.  Day after day we read of devastation, loss & sorrow…parents losing children… children losing parents.  Whole families wiped out.  Entire villages reduced to rubble.  The reality is that our hearts are frail and we simply grow weary of the information and grow calloused to the suffering.

We’ve even come up with a term for this reduction in compassion – it’s called “compassion fatigue.”  A simple Google search for “compassion fatigue” produces 163,000 results.  Our friends over at Wikipedia sum it up:

“Compassion fatigue, also known as a Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a term that refers to a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is common among victims of trauma and individuals that work directly with victims of trauma. It was first diagnosed in nurses in the 1950s. Sufferers can exhibit several symptoms including hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, and a pervasive negative attitude. This can have detrimental effects on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self doubt.

“Journalism analysts argue that the media has caused widespread compassion fatigue in society by saturating newspapers and news shows with decontextualized images and stories of suffering. This has caused the public to become cynical, or become resistant to helping people who are suffering. Journalism analysts cite research which shows that visual images affect brain activity in demonstrable and measurable ways.”

As I’ve been noodling on this whole compassion fatigue concept, my mind took me to the question, “Does God experience compassion fatigue?”  I mean, does He become overwhelmed by the suffering?  Does His heart grow weary of the pain and loss?  Is it possible that He would check out…unable to handle what He sees on a day in and day out basis?

If you’ve spent much time in my personal blog, then you’ll know that my gut response to this question is no, of course not. His capacity to experience compassion is unending.  However, I wanted to go back to Scripture to verify that my gut response was indeed backed up by God’s word.  The Old Testament is full of passages that speak to God’s compassion (Ex. 34:6-7; Deut. 4:30-31; 2 Chronicles 30:8-9, Nehemiah 9, Lamentations 3:19-26, Jonah 4:2ff to name a few).  And when we get into the New Testament and see Jesus, who “is the image of the invisible God”, we get to see God, in physical form, live a life void of compassion fatigue.  Two (of the many) passages that most encouraged my heart were Matthew 20 & Luke 7.

  • Matthew 20:29-34: Jesus is leaving Jericho.  He has just told His twelve disciples that they are headed to Jerusalem and this thing they are a part of is moving towards a murder – His murder.  It is crowded.  It is noisy.  There is chaos just being near this man.  And in the throng of people sit two unnamed men – both blind.  Though they cannot see Him with their eyes, they can see with their hearts that this man is something special.  And so they cry out at the tops of their lungs – a loud and annoying yell – “Have mercy on us!  Have mercy on us!”  The crowd tells them to shut up.  But Jesus stopped.  Is He busy? Yes.  Is He overloaded with requests?  Yes.  Are there crowds of sick people that need His attention?  Yes.  Is He aware that His body is about to be ripped to shreds by a whip?  Yes.  Is He cognizant of the fact that, in a very short time, nails will be driven through His hands & feet?  Yes.  And yet, He stopped.  No compassion fatigue – just compassion.  And two men receive their sight.
  • Luke 7:12-15: Jesus is approaching the city of Nain & comes along a funeral procession.  In the coffin is a young man – the only son of a widow.  This woman has lost everything – no husband to protect her…no son to provide for her.  She is alone.  But in God’s sovereignty, her aloneness is about to be interrupted.  Jesus sees this woman through the crowds – both the crowd following Him and the crowd following the coffin.  He sees the coffin. He sees the pain. He sees the loss.  No compassion fatigue – just compassion.  And with a touch to the coffin and a single sentence uttered there is life restored where there was death.

If you want to see how God responds to suffering, you need not look beyond Jesus.  If you need proof that God does not experience compassion fatigue, then spend some time in the gospels and remember that you and I are the blind men on the side of the road.  We are the widow who has lost everything.  And yet, God, full of compassion, has moved on our behalf.  “God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

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As I write this I am on an plane approaching Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As you may already know, Hope for Orphans is locking arms with a group of other organizations to come alongside Haitian churches as they seek to love and care for children who were orphaned by the earthquake. The HORT initiative (Haiti Orphan Relief Team) sent its first team last month to connect with Haitian churches with a heart for caring for orphans in their communities (you can read David Leventhal’s blog posts from that first HORT trip by clicking HERE). On our current trip, we will take the next step with 10 of these churches and will continue to meet with others as well. On Wednesday, we will be meeting with the pastors of these 10 Haitian churches for the day to discuss more of the details of what it will look like to partner together. During part of that time I will be team teaching with Dan Cruver (Together for Adoption) on a biblical framework for adoption.

I am really excited about this particular initiative and the potential impact it can have. Each church’s program will identify up to 20 children to place into homes within the church. Each church will identify a team to oversee the program and will help to ensure that each of these children gets food, medical care, education, and is developed spiritually. With 10 churches starting the program initially, that means 200 kids are getting care right out of the gate –- and in Christian families.

As you know, it’s important to always be asking the question, “what can we do better together than we could ever do alone?” The HORT initiative is another encouraging example of organizations coming together and putting their collective shoulder behind something that will really help kids.

I would like to ask you to pray with us for this time and for the program. Here are few things you can pray for:

  1. That we would make good connections with more strong churches
  2. That we would be active learners and great listeners
  3. That we would be able to truly identify ways to help Haitian Christians care for
    Haitian orphans.
  4. That churches would see many changed lives in the children they help.

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Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. – 1 Thessalonians 4:17

On Saturday night March 6th and into early Sunday Morning there was a type of rapture that happened in Haiti. As many of you know Hope for Orphans has been advocating for children at the Haitian Children’s Rescue Mission for most of the last 7 weeks. Twenty-two of these children were eligible for what the government calls “humanitarian parole” and to meet their adoptive families in America. Each of these kids had been chosen before the earthquake to be grafted into a family. They were chosen not because of wealth, good deeds or talent. They were chosen out of the unconditional love of families willing to pay the “ransom” in grace and bring them to places prepared for them in their own homes.

Seven of these children went to the airport on Saturday expecting to be joined with their new family in Miami, but instead, despite the signature of the Prime Minister, there was a complication. Haitian authorities at the airport said these children could not leave without a passport! Haiti is not issuing new passports. So all these confused children were loaded back on a bus and sent back to the orphanage. This was not how the story was supposed to go. This was not what anyone expected or wanted. How, after so long, could these children come so close to the dream and the Lord allow them to go back?

God’s ways are not the ways of men and His plans are wonderful. The Lord holds the heart of the king in His hand. Negotiations began immediately between the US Embassy and the Haitian immigration officials. Back at the orphanage, the caregivers and Dr. Leininger were feeling pretty down and grim. Then one of the orphan girls came to Dr. John and she said with a smile, “We are going home tomorrow.” John was not so sure. She said again “We are going home tomorrow.” Dr. John says that 15 minutes later the phone rang and a voice on the other end said the Embassy is going to work all night and eleven children will fly tomorrow on a donated charter WITH PASSPORTS.

If these 7 had not been turned away on Saturday in a small international incident, the 4 scheduled the next day would most likely not have had a chance to leave.

I once met a Pastor who runs an orphanage in India. He that said sometimes they run very, very low on basic necessities. I asked him what they did. He said with a smile, “We get all the orphans together and ask them to pray to their heavenly Father for help. He listens to them and we have what we need.”

Late on Saturday night He was listening again, as 44 orphans, 11 from the Haitian Children’s Rescue Mission were taken up into the air and met their families at 2 AM down in Miami. It was a new day and new life and a new family.

Please pray for the other 45 that we are working with the government to be considered for humanitarian parole as well. There is legislation that would require this. HR 4603.

I am thankful this morning, that because of sovereign grace, I was granted parole to join the family of the Lamb.

A Haitian Child Welcomed into Her Forever Family

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David Leventhal is still in Haiti.  He wrote the following after addressing 100 Haitian pastors:

“This morning Paul Myhill (President of World Orphans) & I had the opportunity to speak before 100 Haitian pastors at a Campus Crusade for Christ training conference in Port Au Prince.  The training was being led by Esperandieu Pierre.

Esperandieu asked us to cast vision & encourage these pastors in their love & service for the orphans in their community.  We didn’t have much time & because Esperandieu had to translate for us the time we had was cut in half.

When I woke up this morning I began asking the Lord what He wanted me to communicate to these men.  It had to be short, easy to remember & useful.  As I worked through my thoughts & reflected on a couple of passages I realize the best place to start & finish was at the very cornerstone of all we believe.  I distilled it down into two main points:

  • The gospel is the basis for WHY we care for orphans
    • The gospel frees us to love others – we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
    • The gospel frees us to look outside ourselves towards the needs of others – we look at Christ who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (Philippians 2:5ff).
    • The gospel provides the power by which we can love sacrificially when it doesn’t make sense for us to (Romans 6:11ff).
  • The gospel is the model for HOW we care for orphans.
    • The gospel is offered free of charge – we are to care for orphans without expectation of receiving anything from them (John 3:16).
    • The gospel is not dependent upon our abilities – we are to care for orphans irrespective of their physical, mental or emotional capacity (Ephesians 2:8-9).
    • The gospel addresses the whole person – we are to care for the spiritual, physical & emotional needs of vulnerable children.  This is more than just basic food, clothing & shelter (James 1:27, 2 Corinthians 4:16ff).
    • The gospel cost Christ his life – we are to spend ourselves for the cause of the orphan, the vulnerable & the defenseless (Romans 8:32, Romans 5:8)

At the end of the day orphan care should tie back to the grace of God made fully known in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.”

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David Leventhal sent this update from Haiti:

Today was a good laying the groundwork day.  Our team met with CMBH (Southern Baptist Group in Haiti) & World Relief.  The net result of our time is that we will be able to meet with 46 churches in the coming week.  Definitely a great start to the church to church partnerships we are hoping to create to care for Haiti’s orphans.

Our time with World Relief was especially sweet as we got to hear about all the great things they are doing to care for orphans & vulnerable children.  Their headquarters in Port Au Prince was destroyed so they are working out of one of their hospital / orphanage facilities called King’s Hospital.  After our meeting we were able to spend some time with the children in their orphanage.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing like getting eyeball to eyeball with a child that has lost everything.  It brings a renewed perspective that you simply cannot get from a book, a sermon or a meeting over coffee. It will wreck you in the best possible way.

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Hope for Orphans is proud to be a part of the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT).  HORT is a cooperative effort of disaster response experts and U.S. based ministries that have joined together to respond to the orphan crisis in Haiti.

The first deployment, which I will be a part of, departs on February 14th with the specific mission of supporting the churches of Haiti to care for the orphaned children in their communities. HORT will collaborate with and train Haitian ministries to sustain this effort beyond the deployment period.

The primary goal of this first initiative is to better enable Haitian churches to reunite children with their families or to keep children within extended family structures. For children that have no other options, HORT will help Haitian churches to provide direct care in home environments, as opposed to institutional orphanages.  The focus is on long-term, sustainable orphan care through the local church.

U.S. churches are also part of the solution and are being recruited by HORT to come alongside these Haitian churches in church-to-church partnerships to initiate, strengthen and grow their outreach to orphans in their immediate communities. These partnerships will also work towards the self-sustainability of the orphan rescue and care efforts in Haiti.

A couple of things you can do:

  • Pray like crazy that this team would:
    • Exalt Christ as we look for long-term orphan relief strategies
    • Remain unified & focused on the goal – we want to set aside logos & egos for the purpose of glorifying God as we care for the least of these
    • Be protected physically & spiritually while in Haiti.  We deploy on 2/14.  Some will be returning on 2/24 & others on 2/28.
    • Be able to identify churches on the ground in Haiti & in the U.S. that will be able to partner with us and one another.
  • Advocate: Spread the word via
  • Support the HORT effort financially through the website below
  • Educate: Learn more at www.haitiorphanrelief.com

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