Why Haiti? For most of the team, Haiti’s challenges came to the forefront as a result of the 2010 earthquake. It hit at 4:53 pm some 15 miles (25 km) southwest of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The initial shock registered a magnitude of 7.0 and was soon followed by two aftershocks of magnitudes 5.9 and 5.5. More aftershocks occurred in the following days, including another one of magnitude 5.9 that struck on January 20 at Petit Goâve, a town some 35 miles (55 km) west of Port-au-Prince. Haiti had not been hit by an earthquake of such enormity since the 18th century, the closest in force being a 1984 shock of magnitude 6.9. A magnitude-8.0 earthquake had struck the Dominican Republic in 1946.
Christians and aid organizations from around the world responded with aid of all kinds. Some members of our team flew to the Dominican Republic, then drove overland to an ad-hoc clinic to deliver supplies and medicine. We joined with other volunteers to deliver much needed medical relief in and around Port-au-Prince. A collateral benefit of the earthquake was to highlight Haiti as a nation to the world. Many of the volunteers developed a love for Haiti and a desire to make things better.
Friendships blossomed between strangers and Haitians. Meeting for the first time in the trenches under nearly impossible circumstances, commitments extended beyond immediate relief work. Thrust together to deal with thousands of homeless and hurt, many of the friendships forged in fire have became relationships that continue to this day.
Estimates of 230,000 killed is the number generally quoted today. Years afterward, millions remain displaced, living under tents and tarps in terrible conditions. A serious cholera outbreak followed a year after the earthquake killing even more.
Even before the earthquake took the lives of so many, it is estimated Haiti had more than 380,000 orphaned children. That number today is very likely higher. Orphans and their care is ever present with forever constrained resources to meet the needs.
For servants of God Haiti is a target-rich opportunity! Besides the enormously difficult conditions, the spiritual health of Haitians is also at epidemic levels. An endless array of competing religions create endless division. Dark practices going back centuries abound. Biblical teaching about Jesus may be the single most scarce spiritual resource.