I recently had the opportunity to participate in the training of church leaders in a rural setting near Cap Hatien, Haiti. I dare say I left with more to “take away” than those I was there to teach. I was certainly reminded that our challenges as a church leaders pale in the typical American setting as opposed to some countries. I left refreshed by the stunning beauty of the scenery in this part of the island. I left brokenhearted for the universal church that still has so much to do on a worldwide basis. I left brokenhearted as I reflected on life in a country where I saw firsthand consequences of corporately refusing to embrace the things of God. I returned to my country that seems to celebrate daily the new lows in which we have gone in our refusal to honor the principles and truths of God we once dearly embraced. I see dark days ahead for us but know God also provides a peace and sanctuary that will carry us through if we stay true.
No—this is not a sad-sack or gloom and doom blog but it does encourage honest reflection!! Many react to the poor with pity. I have been among the very poor in many places. Many exude family unity, purpose and contentment as they have no expectations or knowledge of any other condition. So it was with many we encountered on this trip. But then we drove through the gallery of faces painted exclusively by grinding poverty. There were also the few painted with hate toward the “white guy” that they feared but had never met.
Although Cap Haitien was filled with the huts of the poor, it had its comfortable homes—such as the home of our delightful host. What was remarkable was that its outlying areas included some distance of sand beach and aqua laden ocean visited and inhabited by the few that chose to squat in their huts. Only the wealthiest here have access to such benefits of a natural paradise!
What shook my sensibilities to the core had nothing to do with any of the above. We set around our host’s dining table and discussed what challenges to expect in the class room. We learned two major challenges crippled their country; particularly the effectiveness of their churches: 1. wide spread acceptance of Voodoo. 2. The harsh reality that a young ladies best source of income was prostitution. We discussed countering that with microloans and pondered biblical directives that prohibited Voodoo.
Theoretical discussions are different than looking people in the eye and responding to their stated needs and situation. They pale when a petite 20 year old declares it challenges her as a Sunday School leader when her own students ask why they should starve rather than prostitute as she admits struggling with the same question.
Like a good teacher I provided biblical reference as to why God directs us not to engage in Voodoo style witchcraft only to have a Haitian Pastor query, “But what about the good things we get with Voodoo? We don’t want to stop that!” Another Pastor chimed in from a different perspective and told of a Pastor that had threatened him with a Voodoo curse over doctrinal differences. We hear how Voodoo is incorporated into politics, business and some denominational groups. The corruption and evil that it has produced for centuries shows everywhere!
A painful example for me was the obvious minimum value of life. Crazy numbers of folks clung to junky motorcycles, trucks and pickups precariously honking and hurtling down the roads without regard to traffic lanes, bouncing over vehicle destroying potholes on everything from pavement to stone paths in an instant with no guard rails at sure death precipices.
The United States was totally engaged in conversation over recent Supreme Court hearings during the time frame of our trip. Many were delighted with decisions that they claimed affirmed positions that were more appropriate for today than those held for the last two hundred years which had solid roots in Judaeo-Christian principles. I finished reading some books that had been recommended to me on the plane rides. Jonathan Cahn wrote The Harbinger and the Shemitah. John Hagee wrote the Four Blood Moons. All of these books encourage us to take a look at the Jewish Calendar of time and note how God has responded to Israel’s actions, other countries that either followed or rejected God and finally the United States in that regard. All point out too many correlations for us to lightly dismiss their message.
Their summarized message says that as the United States has turned from following God to rejecting God, so has the fortune of our nation—just as it did all throughout Israel’s history for the same reasons. Cahn in particular points out that the events of 9/11 point to arrogance toward God that has brought, and continues to bring us as a nation under judgment and consequence.
Some laugh at such warnings. As one who walked through and experienced the blows of the economic events of 2008 Cahn ties to his work, I am not even cracking a smile. The events are now logged in history. Cahn’s explanation of them matches my personal experience. Innocent people were wiped out economically by the corrupt hands of some in government and banking to save their own hides. Our entire nation paid for the sin of a few that did not honor the godly principles of ethics and fairness that built our nation.
Although 9/11 events produced a “bump” in the needle of the God meter, it certainly did not bring revival. Instead it brought an ultimate defiance of God in declaration that we could build and sustain our nation without God. Now we go further by rejecting the guidelines of morality and conduct that we adopted from God’s word. Instead we focus on those that mock God and label good what God labeled evil. Guaranteed; these actions will bring consequence.
How has that worked for any nation and people that ever existed? It has not worked well for Haiti. It did not work well for ancient Israel. Russia—nope! China—challenged!!! If you are not as self-absorbed as most of our population now, seems to be you might be noticing that it is not working so well for us right now either—struggling economy, racial discord, etc.
Good thing is, the answer has been known for centuries: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear their cry and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14
I met some wonderful folks in Haiti. I think they are correct in believing that through their efforts and the growing effort in their country that they will do exactly that! I have friends familiar with Rwanda. They believe that Christian Rwandans have completely changed the destiny of that formerly war torn poor country. Where do you stand? Do you believe our country needs help and healing and that turning back to God will solve our problems? I do!