I greet you at Pentecost with words of blessing written by my friend Jim Ball:
We were made
to know joy and to be a blessing.
We were created
to experience love and to ease the burdens of those who travel with us.
We were birthed to walk together—
justly, humbly, & lightly—
upon God’s earth.
This Pentecost blessing blows through my disturbing and inspiring memories of Haiti at Easter. The suffering of the world’s first free Black republic, made deeper under the earthquake’s rubble, is hard to witness let alone bear. Haitians, though, perennially look to the future with determination and hope, expecting joy and blessing. As church, we are created to travel together, easing one another’s burdens and making joy and blessing possible.
As five of us walked with our Haitian sisters and brothers on your behalf last month, we were shown how love is experienced and burdens eased. Henri, a blind musician who lost his instruments in the quake, said, “I want to thank God and Canada for helping people living with disabilities, because after the earthquake our problems are much worse.” Denison, a university student whose studies were interrupted by the quake said, “Without food, I can’t get back to school.” Pastor Arcène, whose church collapsed around him as he worked in his office, told us, “All Haitians are deeply wounded.… Yet if we’re still alive, it’s to continue the work of the Lord on Earth.”
Our Haitian partners, The Methodist Church of Haiti and the Karl Lévêque Cultural Institute, asked us to thank you for the many ways you have walked with them—not only since the earthquake on January 12 but also for decades before the earthquake. They want you to know that your long-standing generosity to the Mission and Service Fund has enabled them to provide education for all ages, teacher training, sustainable agriculture, support for small business enterprises, and more. Your extraordinary donations to relief and restoration since January, which are now approaching $3 million, have made the difference between life and death and strengthened first steps toward post-earthquake reconstruction. Immediate emergency relief in the form of food, water, sanitation, and shelter has saved lives. Our church was able to deliver these things quickly and efficiently through our collaboration with ACT Alliance. Now our partners look toward longer-term projects by which to build and bless their shattered society
To get a picture of how Haitians are building this new foundation for their society, check out my 4 1/2-minute video report. You will meet the Rev. Gesner Paul, President of The Methodist Church of Haiti. He told us that, while we need to continue walking with them, he wants his church to become less dependent and get to the point where it can raise its own funds, pay its ministers, and keep programs and offices running for the whole district of Haiti. “Those of us left behind live with a new purpose…and everything points to more collaboration.”
I assured him that we will help them get there, and that we will accompany him and others in projects of justice, humility, and living more lightly on the Earth, not only in the city of Port-au-Prince but also throughout the country. Our Haitian friends offer an inspiring example of determination for an ecologically, economically, and socially just future. As an international community, we can help them—and learn with them, since, to some degree, the challenges facing Haitian are challenges facing all of the world’s peoples. Donations continue to be received through The United Church of Canada’s Haiti Appeal webpage.
Let us continue walking together justly, humbly, and lightly upon God’s Earth, embodying the reason for our creation as church, in this season of Pentecost.