Rejoicing in the Rubble

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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.

We got a late start to our day today, because the crew has to do so much uploading and downloading and "stand up" pieces -- that's the little introduction or ending to a news report when you see the reporter holding a mic facing the camera. This is often done at another place and time from the actual report where you see the scene or whoever's being interviewed and may not even see the person interviewing.

We drove around downtown and saw a couple terrible sights. In one place there were about four bodies piled on top of one another in the middle of the street. They were partially decomposed. At the very next corner was the charred remains of a body that had been burned in the intersection, one hand pointing to the sky. Some of my photos I'm not going to feel right about putting up on our Flickr site.

It seemed we didn't know where we were going or exactly what we were looking for when I suddenly realized we were right around the corner from Pastor Camille Desravine's church. I said, "Quick, turn left here!" and we zipped down the street to his church. It's a two-story building with the church upstairs and the pastor's house downstairs. This is the church where I brought a team a few years back from Eastgate Church. I could see the front of the building was badly damaged and many cracks through the walls, but it was still standing. Two guys sitting on the sidewalk said, "If you're looking for the pastor, go through that gate down the street"...which led us to yet another tent camp. A number of people, including one of the elders of the church, came running up saying, "Oh Pastor Jim is here!" Then Pastor Camille came up to talk with us. Turns out that members of his church are staying in this little camp, along with many others from the neighborhood who have lost their homes. They have a church service there every evening, much like the first place we visited where the church had been destroyed.

Pastor Camille told us that when the earthquake came, they had just finished the service with the church filled with people. They were all talking to one another and he was downstairs in his house. The earthquake shook the whole building and caused some serious destruction, yet not one person was hurt! It seems clear once again that all these people have no problem understanding that this earthquake was something under God's control, actually under His command. They totally understand the judgment against the sins of the nation, and their hearts are filled with repentance while at the same time continuing to praise, worship, and trust the Lord whom they know loves them and has a plan of miracles for their future. This they believe and proclaim while living in a tent camp, having lost their homes and some of their loved ones!

We met an 83 year old woman in the camp. She has white hair, long painted fingernails and toenails with designs painted over the polish, like something done at a nail salon in our country. She has been a voodoo mambo (female witch doctor) her entire adult life. She was the dominant force in this downtown Port-au-Prince neighborhood before Pastor Camille came her 13 years ago. When he came, she threatened him that within a year his members would die and he would be driven out by the spirits she was calling out against him. Now it's 13 years later, and Pastor Camille's church (Church of God of the Last Days) is the dominant force in the neighborhood, and she walked to greet us leaning on his arm.

We walked a couple steps to see her house, which was only a pile of rubble. When the earthquake came, she was in the house with one of her children and a number of other people. Five people died, including her daughter, and they had to pull the mambo out of the rubble.

We interviewed her, and she told us that she hasn't made a decision to give her life to Christ yet, but she goes to the worship service at the camp every evening, and since there was no one to bury her daughter, Pastor Camille and the members of the church did the burial service this morning. She said she always knew that before she died she would need to renounce Satan and come to Christ, and the earthquake made it clear to her that the day has arrived to make such a decision.

We took footage of members of the church singing together, while one guy was getting a haircut, one woman was putting another woman's hair in braids, two women were reading their Bibles, three people were sitting in the back of a pickup truck which others had their backs against as they sat on the ground. It was a very precious moment. How I wanted to stay to be able to worship with them, but the service was still two hours away, and we had more to do.

We were driving back in the area of the famous Cite Soleil, in a wide flat area devoid of houses, when we came upon a huge crowd of people and a batallion of US Army Airborne. We stopped and saw that it was a food distribution. The people were more orderly and quiet than anything I've ever witnessed in Haiti. There were many hundreds of people, standing in long lines, each line with a soldier at the front. One line at a time, in single file, they would come forward to receive an MRE (those Meals Ready to Eat that we've been eating each night) and two bottles of water. It was really interesting to spend time talking to a couple of the soldiers, who are from an Army Airborne division. They said there were two battalions with them, 800 soldiers per batallion, and he thought there were eight more battalions coming!

If you see anything on the news that makes it sound like there's mass rioting and danger from starving mobs, it just isn't true. The people are so subdued and quiet. They are anxious, because many are starving and it seems the aid just sits at the airport and can't get delivered and distributed. Can you even imagine trying to stage such a mass distribution of aid in Haiti? Maybe things will get out of hand if the aid just never gets out to the people, but so far it's almost like all the Haitians are living in a state of shock, or perhaps numbness. It's really something that's hard to believe, especially when you see downtown Port-au-Prince looking like a scene after massive war bombing.

I've heard that 80% of Jacmel is destroyed, and similar destruction in Leogane, Grand Goave, and Petit Goave. These places are not seeing any aid at all, so much more massive suffering going on there.

George wanted footage of a voodoo peristyle (temple) and it "just happened" once again that our driver Webster has a cousin who is a witch doctor, in a place only 10 minutes drive from where George asked the question! We went and visited there, took photos inside the temple, and that gave me another opportunity to talk with the witch doctor and all the people who were standing around watching us.

I guess it all has to do with worldview, perspective, mindset, and spiritual foundation. I see the same horror as everyone else that has come here to help, but I'm seeing so much that gives me great hope in God turning this whole nation around, that I'm just rejoicing in the midst of the rubble. That would seem to be a cruel thing to do in the light of all the death and destruction here, but I'm meeting so many Haitians who have lost everything but still have that same perspective and foundation, and I realize that God has drawn closer to this nation right now than perhaps He has been in the last two hundred years. I think the people themselves, in their worst hour, are opening a doorway to draw heaven to earth. Just wait. It won't be too long until the whole world will see it.

Jim Glynn
President, Heart of God Ministries

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