Sleeping At The Intersection

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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.

There's a church on the corner with the roof hanging in pieces over the sanctuary. The walls are still standing but the inside looks like a bomb went off. The metal benches are all twisted and turned, some upside down or on their sides. Sunlight streams at odd angles through the hanging pieces of roof. The bell, which we assume was hanging in a tower over the front entrance, is now in the street, turned on its side, untouched.

When you stand in the middle of the street in front of the church, and you look downhill, it's like a scene from San Francisco, albeit a destroyed San Francisco, which also endured a history-making earthquake a hundred years ago. You look down through smoke and ruins, down, down the hill, all the way through the city to the sea, sparkling gold with the setting sun as though its beauty could cover the pall of death and destruction between it and us.

Right here, at this intersection and at the next block also, people are starting to get ready for the night. They have a blanket or a sheet or a plastic tarp or a piece of not-too-clean carpet, and they place them right next to each other so that it makes an rather odd-looking quilt of very large squares covering the street. They leave just enough room so that cars and trucks and motorcycles can go past, oblivious to the possible danger.

We've seen tent camps in the plazas and parks; we've seen home-made tents lining boulevard medians, and now we're looking at the worst situation -- sleeping on the street, with just one layer of thin protection between their bodies and the stones and gravel that covers the poorly-paved road.

Why are they there? Why don't they go to the plazas and other places where it seems so much safer, inviting, under a tent or makeshift blanket? I think I understand as we talked to these people that the tent camps were too far away, and they wanted to be near their homes, even if those homes were now but a pile of rubble. The street camps, as I will call them, are like a support community. They join one another on their blankets and they talk, or they sing, or they laugh together. They share food with one another and eat together. They tell us that the friendship they share together eases the pain that's in their heart. An old woman smoking a pipe; we talk with her and find out the three blankets touching hers are her three children, each with their own children. Everything she owns is now tied up in a sheet. A young woman lies with her head on a young man's chest. They talk and laugh together until we ask if her family survived the quake. Then she gets quiet and says, "My ma ma died."

Sadness and joy. Laughter and sorrow. Some are sitting quietly and others are talking or spreading out their blankets for the night. They remove their shoes before stepping on their sleeping quarters, and they seem to have regard for each others' boundaries in this no-privacy place.

My heart is touched with love for these people. The old woman said she knows that God is giving her just what He knows she needs right now, even this place to sleep, and she is thankful for it. The young couple says they believe with all hope that this dark hour is going to become the beginning of a new day for Haiti, and that they are praying to God for that.

The Holy Spirit moves through these places, where people's lives have been thrown together in a violent way that no one could ever have predicted. He is speaking God's Word and God's plan to them. He is revealing into their hearts what no prophet could speak as clearly or convincingly to them. He is showing them the love and goodness of God at a time when it seems logical that people might think Him cruel and vengeful. No one would choose to be forced to live like this, and yet, I find myself encouraging them to believe the still, small voice that is already speaking within them rather than trying to turn rebellious, angry hearts back to God, which is what I thought I might encounter when I first arrived.

Surely the Spirit of revival is in this place. Revival among the ruins.

Jim Glynn,
President Heart of God Ministries

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