Monday, April 5, 2010

Signs of Hope in Haiti: A Good Friday Reflection

A women in Haiti passes by a collasped building.
Photo by Melissa Hinnen/UMCOR

April 2, 2010—And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. Matt 27:51

On this Good Friday, as I reflect on my trip earlier this week to Haiti, I think of the woman I met whose mother had died in the earthquake and whose home was destroyed. “But we must carry on. That is not all there is,” she said to me with the most sincere smile that carried to her eyes. What an awesome reminder of God's grace and promise for us as we approach Easter.

This was my first visit to Haiti. I had tried to prepare myself to be met with despair and hopelessness and was anxious about how I would handle that. I prayed that I might know how to provide comfort and ministry. But I am so amazed by the resilience and the true joy of the Haitian people. I began to understand that despair is a luxury – in order to survive, one must embrace the blessings offered in the midst of hardship.

Everywhere we looked there were homes and other buildings destroyed. As we passed collapsed building after collapsed building, I thought about how every single structure held a story with people connected to it. While much of the rubble has been removed from the streets, there is nowhere in downtown Port au Prince that does not bear signs of the devastation and loss. Every open space is filled with tents.

But beautiful, colorful tropical flowers bloom everywhere-- even the earthquake could not keep these signs of life from emerging. And the people of Haiti carry on. They are in the market, they are walking, they are worshipping, and they are in school.

At UMCOR and The General Board of Global Ministries, we have had our own losses in Haiti where Sam Dixon and Clint Rabb lost their lives. Sam was the head of UMCOR and always available to give me guidance and perspective. I miss his support and his laughter and his commitment to mission. As I traveled to Haiti, I was so aware of his and Clint’s sacrifice and UMCOR’s commitment to the overall crisis.

As I met with people and glimpsed their day to day reality, it helped me to understand that while our personal sadness is justified, the magnitude of what the Haitian people face still lies before us. They have ALL lost people they love and they are all still struggling to survive -- they do it with a grace and purpose that blessed me.

The deepness of the loss in Haiti is great but the commitment of our church is strong and I am proud to be part of this denomination that has shown time and again that working together we will be in solidarity with the people of Haiti for years to come. Through gifts to UMCOR, we will work with communities to transform their resilience into self sustaining empowerment.

What a blessing. What a reminder of God’s grace and promise for us.

By Melissa Hinnen, Director, UMCOR Communications

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