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Reflections on Post-Earthquake Haiti

It feels unusual watching the snow cover the ground like a blanket in Maryland as a large snow system passes through our state to hit New York with a blizzard on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake. I could write a book reflecting on the past year that my wife, Kat, and I lived in Haiti, and the “unknown” we had to face when the 7.0 earthquake hit while Kat was in Haiti, and I was in New Zealand last year. Thankfully, through the grace of God, Kat was safe during the earthquake, as well as the eight children she was caring for at an orphanage. The fact is, the Internet will be filled today with “blogs” about Haiti, the corrupt politics, theories on reconstruction and the failed aid money being delivered. I am careful to not “add to the noise” in cyberspace today, but I do feel a sense of responsibility to share on behalf of my Haitian friends—not for my sake or even their sake, but because God asks us to.

Proverbs 31:8-9 says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Even by spending a year in Haiti, my wife and I are definitely not experts on relief, development or reconstruction; however, God allowed us to experience something many people never will.

When a composer creates a beautiful musical arrangement, the song fails to “come to life” until it can be experienced by an audience that is moved by the elegant notation, the balanced instrumentation and the masterful sound illuminated from the stage. Suddenly, notes on a page become inspiration in someone’s life. Similarly, it is difficult to grasp the awakening taking place in Haiti following the earthquake without ever smelling, touching, hearing or seeing the direct effect of God on a nation. Development strategies, plans and commitments are definitely needed, but sometimes a prayer to God to give us “eyes to see the need” can be equally as effective.

I recall a particular day when my wife called me from her global cell phone from Haiti. Normally, we would connect via Skype when Internet was available to her, so a ring from her global number normally meant an emergency of some sort. As I answered the phone, I could tell she was in tears as she shared about a young baby she met on the streets in Port-au-Prince. She went on to explain an encounter she had with a mother on a sidewalk that approached her with a 2-month old baby. The mother told her that the baby needed milk right away, or it would die. The mother forcefully attempted to hand the baby over to Kat because she couldn’t bear the pain of losing another child in her arms. Kat immediately took all the money she had to purchase milk to help the unresponsive baby. As Kat shared the story, I knew what was coming next. She said, “I know I’m not supposed to give money out on the streets because there are so many that need it, but it was all I had.” We talked and prayed over the phone about the situation and were comforted by Scripture that encourages us to “give.”

Was giving money for milk part of the overall development strategy for Haiti? Probably not, but we do know that Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Today, the entire nation of Haiti is participating in a “day of mourning,” and rightfully so, as more than 200,000 people lost their lives on this tragic day one year ago. Even the U.S. government flew the American flag at half-mast in remembrance of all who lost their lives.

But will we remember tomorrow?

Will we remember that more than 1 million people are still homeless in Haiti? Will we hear the cries of the orphan who lost both parents in the earthquake? Will we comfort the widow who struggles to survive on pennies a day?

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There is a lot of ongoing discussion as to what will lead to the “reconstruction of Haiti.” Friends, what Haiti (and the rest of the world for that matter) simply needs is Jesus.

On the anniversary of this terrible tragedy, if you are kind enough to “give,” ask yourself if your gift will be used in Jesus’ name. What I mean is, will your money be used in a way to bring glory to God, and Haitians closer to Jesus? One effective way to care for both physical and spiritual needs of children in Haiti is through our friends at Food for the Hungry. You can sponsor a Haitian boy or girl today, and be part of the change.

My wife had the amazing opportunity to serve as a community development facilitator with Food for the Hungry in Haiti for one year through the earthquake. In November of this year, the program she was a part of came to an end and allowed her to return to the States to serve as a director for The Hunger Strike. We will be returning to Haiti as well as several other countries this year to assist with community development.

Jeremy Willet and his wife, Kat, are now in the middle of the process of adopting their first son from Ethiopia! Follow along on the journey at JeremyAndKatWillet.com.

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