Save blame for later; right now Haiti needs mercy and our love

The recent earthquake in Haiti is a disaster of incalculable magnitude. Haiti, a nation only a few hundred miles from the coast of Florida, is in another struggle for survival.

Life in Haiti is not easy. It lacks many of the institutional structures that provide for the basic well-being of the population. A devastating earthquake has rocked the island nation that is already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

History is littered with natural disasters. Earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires, floods, drought, and hurricanes plague the human condition. We live in a world under the curse of sin and death. When Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator, the planet on which we live became a hostile environment.

Thankfully, nature did not become totally ruined, but it is broken badly enough to make us yearn for a better world. Even creation itself is said to be one great symphony of sighs waiting for its redemption (Rom. 8:22). God has not abandoned a fallen sinful human race. There is hope.

How can hope be transferred to the broken and bleeding people of Haiti? It starts with immediate expressions of compassion. The parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that we are to love our neighbor, and our neighbor is the person we encounter who is in need (Lk. 10:25-37).

We love our neighbor when we show mercy. The Haitians need our mercy. There are multiple ways we can direct our mercy. Find a reputable mission agency which has a history in Haiti of day-in and day-out, Christ-exalting ministries that is making a difference. Give your money to these missionaries and ministries.

We can pray for Haiti. Pray that a good and stable government will rise to lead the island nation. Pray that the Christian community in Haiti will show Christ’s love through its gospel witness and mercy ministries.

One thing Haiti doesn’t need is more U.S. aid without accountability. There are many who, wanting to feel better about themselves, think that American tax dollars thrown at a problem is the solution. True compassion does not ignore truth and real long-term solutions.

Nation-building, which is what is needed in Haiti, requires a foundation of character strength, liberty, a strong work ethic, a government that works for the good of the people, justice, entrepreneurial capitalism, and a high view of God. This is not to say that Haiti lacks these qualities. They must be more widespread. Here is a report received recently from Haiti:

“But let me change to something more encouraging. Even though a food delivery had been promised, and about 5,000 people waited patiently until 4 p.m., no food arrived today.

“So the people do not get fed. What do they do? They hold an outdoor praise session! They have been singing songs of praise for about two hours now. Hungry, tired, suffering people praising the Lord. I wish you could hear it — songs that say: ‘I am not afraid because I have Jesus in my heart.’ Or ‘Thank you, thank you, Lord because I know you.’ The songs were upbeat, joyful. Some people were dancing, arms raised in the air to God. I am so humbled.”

Cynics may scoff at this and say much more is needed than prayer and singing. The truth is that such resilience in a time of calamity is the stuff from which a better future is made.

Was the earthquake in Haiti an act of God’s judgment? This question in one form or another always seems to enter the public conversation about natural disasters. Some think that we are better off, as one Opinion columnist in the AJC has stated, “When God and Satan are given a holiday from the news cycle.”

Attempts at immediate explanations for earthquakes, hurricanes, and other such eruptions in nature are fraught with hazards. Jesus’ disciples tried to get Him to explain why a tower fell over and killed 18 people. He “dodged” the question and went to the important issue, namely, that disasters are warnings to everyone.

We assume that God owes us a good turn of events when the truth is, we all deserve death because we are sinners. The message of God in all calamities is that we all need to repent.

If the Haitians are suffering because of generations of voodoo, then why isn’t America experiencing catastrophes for having slaughtered millions of innocent babies in the wombs of their mothers?

It is best to leave those questions with God. In the meantime, we must pray that Haitians and Americans will abandon their idols and turn to God’s salvation in Jesus Christ.

Dr. Howard E. Dial, pastor

Berachah Bible Church

Fayetteville, Ga.