The humanitarian and military crisis in Afghanistan has dominated headlines at a time when Haiti is reeling from a devastating earthquake. Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency reported the death toll at 2,189, with 12,268 people injured and dozens still missing.
“Even though I’m not currently there now, our base is operating completely normally, and our staff has reported that we are feeding more people because marketplaces and ports have been shut down in Haiti, so food is scarce,” stated Dr. David Vanderpool, founder of LiveBeyond. “Typically, persecution increases faith for those who have faith. Introducing people to the Christian faith is a really challenging situation because many people respond differently But many Haitians with faith have turned to God more now than ever.”
Vanderpool, who also is a trauma surgeon, founded LiveBeyond in 2005 to provide disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina. In 2010, the organization expanded to Haiti in response to a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 300,000. Vanderpool and his wife also serve as missionaries in Haiti following previous efforts around the world for LiveBeyond.
“Many Haitians have a clear picture of the spiritual realm, and they know God is a God of love,” he said. “But on the one hand, Satan has power in this world, because he can do things in this world and God doesn’t necessarily stop him. And the Haitians that worship Satan tap into the power that Satan has, and that is the attraction.”
He encourages Christians to look for ways to help.
“I would discourage any short-term mission trips to Haiti at this time because of the increased danger,” Vanderpool said. “The way people can help is to find a good organization that is feeding children and support it.”
Tom Cotter, director of emergency response and preparedness at Project HOPE says there’s many reasons to be concerned.
“This earthquake is yet another crisis — among many others — that Haiti is facing. We fear the worst as we think of the 2010 earthquake Haiti suffered,” says Cotter. “There are a lot of reasons to be concerned right now, especially as most Haitians have yet to be vaccinated and COVID-19 could now spread even faster as people flee and gather on displacement sites. Medical facilities and ambulance services were scarce even before the earthquake, with the majority of Haitians unable to afford medical services. Supporting local health care personnel and emergency first responders will be crucial to save as many lives as possible.”
Project HOPE sends medical supplies and highly skilled medical volunteers to serve on the USNS Comfort. The floating Navy hospital ship was the main referral hospital in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, receiving complex cases from field hospitals on shore.
Another way for people to help Haiti is to keep the country in prayer. “We are asking people to pray that the peace of God will permeate Haiti, that God will allow his peace to reign in Haiti and godly leaders will be raised up in the country,” he said.
Other Christian organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision launched relief efforts in Haiti last week.
–Anita Widaman | Metro Voice