Early in November several guys from our church went to Haiti on a missions trip. When we came back home we did a presentation on the trip at church. Art McLain, one of our congregants, works for the local newspaper, and wrote up a piece on the presentation. Here is Part 2.
One of the agonizing parts of the trip was watching the children. It wasn’t that none of the children were happy. In a way many of their children are happier than ours.
Scott Bonnell, Director of Hope to Haiti, noted that one in five children don’t survive until their fifth birthday. That is not a typographical error, 20% of small children die on the island. This means that almost every single family has watched one of their small children die or at least in their neighbors or extended families, a child died.
The poverty is so extreme; the lack of food, clean drinking water, and even basic healthcare needs turns into a fatality for many. There are no government agencies to look out for children to make sure basic needs of survival can even be met.
Food distribution had to be done stealthily. Villages were not told when we were coming to hand out food to them out of fear many would show up and not enough would be had to go around.
At one point while out in town one of the guys tried to hand a couple packs of crackers to some hungry kids at the market. The host stopped the transaction for fear of inciting a riot. There are times when someone is just trying to be charitable and dozens or even hundreds of starving children will circle around to attempt to get a bite of food from people who don’t have enough to give.
Another time, we were driving to an area a group of kids came up pounding on the car lifting their shirts and pointing to their stomachs begging for food with their arms stretched out hoping for a bite. Because of safety concerns the vehicle could not stop and we only were allowed to throw a couple packs of crackers out of the window and onto the road to let them scoop them up.
Everywhere children were seen with open toed flip-flops or bare feet running through garbage. These were not mischievous children, the garbage never ended. Rarely was there a safe place to play. Some were seen digging through makeshift landfills just looking for scraps of food.
Due to the earthquake in 2010, the extreme poverty, and the hurricanes, there now is an estimate that one million children are orphans in Haiti. With an estimated only 760 orphanages in Haiti it is estimated 30,000 of these children or less have somewhere to call home. The other million orphans are living on the streets. Many are dying, not in some state of the art hospital with constant care, but behind someone’s house or in the market or on the street.
These children are not being fostered or placed somewhere by Children and Youth Services. Their neighbors and community cannot give give them attention because people are trying to feed their own kids so that they can survive to the next day.
While the orphans who were taken into orphanages would consider themselves lucky as opposed to starving to death on the street, some of the orphanages were in a state in which many Americans would not leave their pets there for the day. It is not that the orphanage is not trying, it is the lack of funding and even resources to buy once funding is provided.
For most of them rice and the beans were the daily diet and to get a chicken leg added to the meal would be a special treat. To have a clean cup of water was a joy as so many had water tainted by disease and sewage out in the streets.
Each of the four guys who went from Cornerstone Bible Church in Browndale (Pastor Tim Madden, Logan Droppa, Jim Spano and Joe Woody) had moments where they had to walk away to emotionally compose themselves or felt physically sick from what they saw. All four of the men being fathers could never imagine their children having to live in the orphanage, let alone on the street.
Yet somehow the children at the orphanage in Saint Marc seemed happy. “As we watched a children’s church service held at the orphanage, if you close your eyes and just listen to the children sing and didn’t know where you would think you are among the most physically blessed children in the world.” said Pastor Tim.
With hands up, clapping, smiling, and singing the children praised God for what they were given. Things that if that was all we had we would probably grumble to Him.
Yet somehow these children knew what they had more than us. So often we fixate on the physical. Materially they had almost nothing. They did not celebrate the material, they celebrated they were in Christ and how they had Jesus as their Savior.
Cornerstone Bible Church has set a goal to raise $3000 for 20 bunk beds by Christmas Eve. Donations can be made through the Cornerstone app “Cornerstone Forest City” or text cornerstonefc to 77977 or you can also give through the church’s website at cornerstonebiblechurch.org. At either site at the Give tab you should select “Bunk Beds for Haiti.” Message & Data rates apply.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.