Ruth and Charlie Wallace Reflect on their Visit to Haiti
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25-27
After almost three months of hearing about and seeing the devastation on television that the earthquake had on Haiti on January 12 of this year, Charlie and I (along with former missionary Sherry Ward) were blessed to have the honor and opportunity to visit many that we love and cared for in Haiti. We were honored to serve as Missionaries for 3 ½ years with our Partner Church in Haiti (CONASPEH) the National Council of Spiritual Churches of Haiti.
Pictures on television do not do justice to the situation in Haiti. There is rubble and destruction everywhere. Where there was brokenness before, there is now what the people of Haiti call “chiré” or a shredded society. There are hundreds of thousands of people living in tents with no running water, adequate space or any kind of services that most would deem “necessities.”
But the Haitian people, through all of this, continue to have a vision for the future! Schools are starting to opening up in tents with children sitting on the rubble trying to learn. People are selling whatever wares they have, to each other. Life seems to go on, no matter how large the catastrophe has been. It was hard to see a Haiti that was broken before and is now shredded physically. Our hearts cried out at seeing what had happened here. We went to bed on Saturday night and had a difficult time sleeping after seeing so many images.
On Sunday morning we were invited to a church that had some walls that were crumbled, but the building is still standing. It was not a very beautiful building, but it was functional. As we came into the service we were greeted with faces full of hope and grace. People hugged us and smiled at us as we made our way to the front. The church began to sing and the voices truly were angelic. As we looked out into the sea of people we saw more than 500 people at worship. The little church was packed and the faithful were singing and praying to God! As I looked out into the congregation, I saw each person in the congregation lift their hands and sing with all their voice and heart…”One Day at a time dear Lord”. It was not until this moment that I felt streams of tears flowing down my cheeks. They followed that song with another, “This is my Story, this is My Song!” After all of the destruction they continue to lift their lives to God and with an even more full and genuine heart! They are people who are living one day a time and each day they continue to take the Good News that God has for this world! I looked again at the church, with new eyes, and saw a truly beautiful church – it was not the church building but it was in God’s children who where worshipping!
If that was not enough, a young girl, a member of the church, greeted us as we were leaving. She shared with us that she was one of the nursing students that was trapped inside the school. She lost 20 colleagues and “sisters in Christ” on January 12th. She had survived an awful ordeal and told us that God has given her new life and that she wants to serve God with all that she is. She told us that she feels even stronger about her calling to become a nurse and help her people. She thanked our churches for helping build the nursing school in Haiti and asked us not to abandon them in their time of need. She said, “We need your help to rebuild so we can serve our people with medical care. Please come and walk with us so we can rebuild Haiti together.”
This is the spirit of the Haitian people! Like the flowers that we saw blooming in the middle of the rubble, our brothers and sisters in Haiti will grow and become a stronger people because they believe and trust in God and know that God’s love will conquer all—even this horrible catastrophe! I pray that we, who have all we need and want at hand, can learn to live one day at a time and continue to tell that “Old, Old” story of Christ that we all love! May God give us the courage and strength to continue to pray for and accompany our brothers and sisters in Haiti! This is true “Critical Presence!”
Ruth and Charlie Wallace
Former Global Ministries missionaries to Haiti