A Pastor's Heart for Haiti

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Jim Glynn is a pastor and president of Heart of God Ministries.  He has spent over 27 years working in Haiti and has a tremendous heart for this country. 

He wrote wrote the following letter to his wife.  It beautifully illuminates the heart of a pastor for those suffering.

This is certainly one trip that doesn't make me "wish you were here." Oh no this is no place for you right now. It's so good to know you are home with the kids, and also to follow all the e-mail and calls and everything else.

At the pace we're going, I can't imagine keeping this up for yet another week. Actually, it's not like it's hard work or physically too exhausting, it's being in a place that I've been familiar with over the past 27 years, that now can hardly be recognized. Talking to people is an entirely different experience than it's ever been before. "Ministering" takes on a whole new meaning. Here's an example:

Every plaza or large open space all over Port-au-Prince is now a "tent camp" filled with entire families who have lost their homes. Of course very few of these are real tents, but rather sheets and blankets all tied up helter-skelter. It's amazing how subdued the people are. There are people cooking and selling food; many families are nearly starving but no one steals the food. Those who have money buy just a small portion and everyone seems to share whatever they have.

The plaza in front of the Palace, where all the famous statues and monuments are, is covered with tents. We interviewed a number of people there today, a very strange scene since the Palace itself is completely destroyed, the main dome sitting at an oblique angle atop a pile of rubble.

 Normally people can get angry if you try to take their photo or stand in front of them with a TV camera. But people today were happy to answer questions in front of the camera. My position was next to the camera, usually on my knees, interpreting the questions to the person being interviewed in a normal voice that they could hear, and then doing a running stream of translation in a very quiet voice while they would give their complete answer. After each interview, George the producer and Jonathan the cameraman would be set up some scenes to photo with the person or family, and I would be surrounded by others who would begin to ask me many questions, seeing that I could speak their language. I felt that each situation was a time of ministry, and people were very open to listen carefully to my response to their questions, which had mostly to do with how could they have hope at a time like this, what would happen if the aid that is promised never reaches them, etc.

I stood talking for a fair amount of time with about twenty-five young guys who formed a circle all around me right there on the plaza. I was telling them about the spiritual significance of this earthquake, about seeking God for all the answers and putting all hope in him instead of in any government; I was talking to them about confession of sins and repentance for an entire nation, about praying for relief on earth while believing that God is really doing something that will SHAKE the whole world as a result of this event, things no crowd of young people on the street would previously have been interested in hearing. And they all just pressed in closer, some with tears coming down their faces, shaking their heads affirmatively. I almost felt like I could have said, "Let's all get down on our knees before the Lord right here in this place," and I think every one of them would have done it! When I had to leave with our crew, all the guys grabbed my hands or my shoulder and thanked me and said they hoped to see me again.

We asked people what they felt about President Obama sending thousands of Marines to patrol their streets with tanks and big guns and every person responded that in the present situation they would welcome the soldiers, seeing that they were coming to give the help they all know they desperately need.

We talked to a man who was wheeling a double stroller with two 2-month-old twins in it! They were in their house, with his wife, when the earthquake hit. He ran out carrying one child and his wife close behind. He turned around and ran back into the house to get the second child while the house was swaying back and forth, and the house fell as soon as he got out...the whole family saved.

So once again we saw stories of redemption coming out of what certainly appears to be something terrifying. Death is turning into life, hope, and victory right before our eyes. It's not like I'm not seeing the horror! Today we saw some of the worst of the destruction, including the palace, the cathedral (one pink wall standing, everything else flattened rubble), many large government buildings, stores, churches, and houses. The largest grocery store in Haiti, the Caribbean Market, fell while full of people. The roof fell at an angle, trapping people inside. The ones who weren't killed were able to eat food inside until they were rescued!

We saw a most surreal scene of a downtown building, in ruins, on fire. Just before we got there, a car had run into a part of the building still standing, and it collapsed on top of the car, which started the fire. People were running all around and we were right in the middle of it on the street, taking footage and talking to people, as a fire truck pulled up and fireman started shooting water into the building. Black smoke was pouring out, and there were still three yet-unrecovered bodies from the earthquake partly exposed from the rubble, one with black puffed-up skin, and one with skull and finger bones all exposed. As we drove down these streets that look like the remains of a war bombing, we could only say, "Lord have mercy. Jesus, come and save."

You may hear on some news stations reports of angry people or some rioting. We haven't personally seen that yet, although if people don't start receiving some of the aid that they hear about on the radio, I'm sure they will begin to get more and more desperate. Yet overall we are seeing a great contrast between the horrors produced by the earthquake itself and the attitudes of the people who are left alive.

I've never felt so desperately wanting to do exactly, all, and only what God has called me here to do at this time. I'm really "out of my element," hardly understanding moment by moment what these TV guys are doing. They speak a computer-video-tech language I don't understand. They have equipment that just baffles the mind. They film during the day and stay up most of the night, getting only a couple hours sleep, in order to make their daily deadlines of "uploading" their finished narrated films by internet back to the US. Sometimes we have to go to the MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) hangar at the airport where they set up a "BGAN," which is a satellite uplink to send their videos that way when they can't get another kind of internet connection. I hang around with the Haitian guys who are driving us at times like that.

Sometimes I start ministering to people in the middle of an interview, which then causes George to poke me...it's hard to resist not just getting a story, so then I try to hang back and touch the people with something from the Lord, something that will encourage or bring more hope or give them something really solid to hang onto. Because you know, what we have in the Spirit is FAR MORE SOLID than any food or water or other aid they will get. We know they'll die without that physical aid, but without supernatural aid from heaven they will simply live to sustain the misery that they have been living in this country for the last 200 years.

By the way, if you go to the CBS website and look at their report about the saving of that baby from the rubble I wrote about yesterday, look at their online video and you will see me in the striped yellow polo shirt right there! I think the CBN report will be broadcast tomorrow (Tuesday).

I'm overwhelmed and SO HUMBLED to receive so many e-mail messages from people who are donating through us for Haiti. And imagine that New Life took an offering, too! How will I ever be able to thank all those people? Even people we haven't seen in a long time, people who still follow what we are doing and care this much, my heart is so touched.

More coming...

James R. Glynn, President
Heart of God Ministries
1603 Hickory Hill
Freeport, IL 61032

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