Update from Haiti: Praying for Peace, Hope, and Justice
I didn't want to leave. Yes, I read the warnings from the United States Embassy urging U.S. citizens to depart from Haiti. I knew that six to 12 people a day were being kidnapped, and that victims were sometimes tortured if their families didn't pay the ransom immediately.
However, when I was told to evacuate Haiti, I tried to convince headquarters that I was okay and could keep working. But deep down I knew that they were right: The situation was not only bad, it was rapidly deteriorating, and was predicted to get worse with the upcoming elections in the fall.
Part of me was relieved to leave Haiti. No more waking up to gunfire in the middle of the night, no more being unable to walk down the block to the grocery store because the last time I had done it a man with a shotgun in the back of a pick-up truck had come dangerously close to me. But the other part of me felt like I was abandoning Haiti simply because I had a U.S. passport. When security was compromised, I could just leave. Haitians cannot.
Late that afternoon, the World Relief Haiti staff prayed for me before I left. As I looked around the room, I realized that being the only foreigner, I was the only one of our 40-member staff who was leaving. My Haitian co-workers would all continue to work to help micro-businesses grow, educate young people about HIV/AIDS, care for orphans and vulnerable children, and promote health care for mothers and children. Whether or not I was in Haiti, our programs would continue. More important than my presence was the presence of God. Thankfully, He will never leave and continues to watch over and care for the people of Haiti.
Here are the prayer requests that I ask you to keep in your hearts as you remember our Christian brothers and sisters in Haiti:
> Safety for the World Relief Haiti staff. Wilson Plymouth, the microenterprise director, prays every day when he leaves his house that God will protect him, and thanks God every afternoon when he returns. I'm sure he's not the only one who does that. All of our programs require traveling around Port-au-Prince, which is very dangerous in this time of random shootings and kidnappings.
> The security situation in Haiti. Despite the presence of a U.N. peacekeeping force, in recent months, hundreds of innocent people have been killed or kidnapped. Daily activities are disrupted, and the whole country lives in fear. The many responsible parties need to be caught and the violence needs to be stopped so the country can move towards recovery and not remain in this depressed state.
> Justice. There is virtually no law enforcement or judicial system right now, resulting in no consequences for crime. Corruption is rampant, and the police are not trusted, since they are often the perpetrators, not inhibitors, of crime. Please pray for integrity in law enforcement.
> Wisdom for the international community. Without public confidence in the interim government, Haiti is at the mercy of the international community to restore peace and order. Please pray that international governments will look past their political agendas and do what is best for the Haitian people.
> Upcoming elections. Elections for both the local and national governments are scheduled from October to December of this year. Due to the insecurity, voter registration has been low, and there has been talk about delaying the elections. Please pray that elections will be fair and free of intimidation, and that honest leaders who can guide Haiti to a better future will be elected.
> Hope. After decades of dictators and disasters, please pray that the people of Haiti do not give up hope that God will see them through this situation, and that they maintain their faith.
Please pray that God may use this situation to further His name. To learn more, go to http://www.worldrelief.org.
Joyelle Lee is a World Relief volunteer who lived and worked in Haiti for four months supporting the community bank program.