By Michele Kappas
Psalm 46:1-4: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”
Jan. 12 is a day that Haitians will never forget as their foundation was literally shaken. Before the earthquake, 80 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. The devastation surrounding this country is unfathomable, and one can only cringe at the increase in death and destruction.
But on Feb. 12 things started to change.
For many around the world this weekend kicked off the celebration of Mardi Gras, a huge event in Haiti. On the one month anniversary of the quake, President Rene Preval stated on national television he was canceling Mardi Gras and called Haiti to three days of fasting and prayer to God.
This statement shocked many in Haiti, a nation with many practitioners of voodoo. Preval spent time praying himself from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in a church for those three days.
This is what I took away from Haiti. I was extremely nervous entering into the trip because I was expecting to be blown away by death, depression and spiritual warfare. I left being blown away by realizing how great of a God we serve.
“It was so obvious that God wanted us to go on this trip because of how present He was in everything that we did,” Palm Beach Atlantic University sophomore Elyse Messick said.
I do not think I can stress enough how blessed our team was. Prior to the trip, many outside forces left us feeling discouraged. We were told there was little to no possibility of the trip making it.
We were told there were too many risks and they weren’t flying teams in until April. Although these voices were loud, we found peace through faith that the Lord would provide. Not only did He enable the trip tomove forward, but He also provided financially for every single person in full.
As Messick said, we felt God’s presence instead of expected oppression. God’s hand was over our physical bodies as well, leaving us with only minor health problems.
Our team was led by Matt Johnson and Amanda Ulik with 11 other students staying at an orphanage in Titanyen, Mission of Hope (MOH). The president of the orphanage, Brad Johnson, has co-directed with his wife for the past 12 years. They are a family of six with two biological children and two adopted.
“This is home for us,” said Brad’s wife Vanessa.
During our stay we spent our days moving medical supplies and water, painting and spending time with children at other orphanages as well as MOH.
“After being to Haiti before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect after the earthquake, but even through all the brokenness and hurt that we saw, we could still see God shining through the cracks,” Ulik said.
I have to admit, it was pretty hard going to a country that has been so physically wounded when you realize you’re at a loss to heal them, but while at MOH we were surrounded by American doctors.
There were about 10 tents set up outside and some of the nurses stayed in the rooms with us. This is something that really impacted me each morning.
It was amazing to know we were with people all day long who were operating on wounds caused by the earthquake.
On one of the first days, Ulik shared Isaiah 61:1-2 with the team: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
This was our motivation throughout the week, and it was beautiful to know we were able to work on the spiritual needs of the people of Haiti while the doctors with us worked on the physical.
Our team became incredibly unified. From about dinner time at 6 p.m. to 9 or 10 p.m., we spent time bonding through worship, card games and “debrief.” We shared stories of how we had seen the Lord move that day and highlighted which team members had shined.
“God definitely worked in us supernaturally,” Matt Johnson said. “It was absolutely incredible. We were like a tight knit family. Everyone loved and encouraged each other so much, and now we have a tight bond that I don’t think will fade away easily.”
It hasn’t been easy getting back in the swing of things after such an incredible experience, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this trip continues to impact each of our lives.
“This catastrophe has allowed the world to see Haiti really needs help,” Vanessa Johnson said. “Before the earthquake life was hard on a normal day. When everything happened, things magnified, but it was like God said, ‘Haiti, this is your time to change.’ People have come to call on Jesus and really seek and trust him.”
People all around the world see Haiti as a depressed and hopeless country. This is not what my team and I took away from our trip. We walked away smiling because we see change and hope coming up over the horizon.
“It’s obvious that the Lord is above and beyond all the powers Satan has in this country,” Vanessa Johnson said.
Thousands of survivers in Haiti now live in tent cities
Shown below is a tent city. After the earthquake, Haitians moved out of what buildings were left standing and into tents. Some tents are located outside of their homes, and some are located in the mountain area (like this one). In fear of another earthquake, the people are still living in tents, over two months after the quake.