International Ministries (IM) has been closely monitoring deteriorating civil and political circumstances in Haiti over the past eight weeks. Fuel shortages and a growing movement demanding the resignation of President Jovenal Moise, along with the end of a 15-year United Nations Peacekeeping Mission, have plunged the Caribbean nation and its people into desperate circumstances of limited transportation and mobility, lack of access to medical care and educational programs, and shortages of water and electricity, and scarcity of food.
Dr. Steve James, jointly appointed by IM and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, shares the desperate nature of this crisis, which has drawn little attention outside of Haiti:
“Since July 2018, Haiti has been disintegrating into ever deepening valleys of socio-political dysfunction and chaos. We are watching today the lock-down “melting” of a nation. This recent disintegration is killing the weakest and most vulnerable in Haiti, as I write. Schools, universities, health centers are closing or almost closed. There is almost no modern transportation. In some cases, health care providers are having to walk to their clinics and hospitals from great distances to find only a few of the sick waiting for them. Greater and greater numbers of people are forced to stay in their homes, trying to find food and water to survive. The cost of food in diminishing markets is causing prices to sky-rocket. Mass hunger among the poorest is rising. Spasms of paralyzing civil violence and banditry, rampant economic corruption, absence of creative empathic leadership, devitalizing international parasitism are destroying bit by bit the life-sustaining infrastructure of the past 50 years. Haiti has been reduced to a level of chaos not seen certainly in the past 15 years and perhaps not seen since the 1950’s. Political corruption and chaos leave Haiti now in a killing field for the predation by the most powerful and cruelest elements in society.”
Long-time IM global servants Kihomi Ngwemi and Nzunga Mabudiga remain in Haiti, providing a ministry of presence, prayer, and assistance at the Christian University of Northern Haiti and the eye clinic in Cap-Haitian. Medical missionaries Steve and Nancy James are currently in the United States and in regular communication with ministry partners and colleagues in Haiti. Brian Smith was medically evacuated from Haiti on September 25, and he and his wife Lynette and their two sons Ricky and Calen are temporarily staying at their U.S. home base in Townville, PA as Brian recovers from Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, and Monomucleosis. The Smiths also remain in regular and close contact with partners and colleagues in Haiti. IM has suspended support for the sending of short-term mission teams and volunteers to Haiti. An IM team is meeting weekly for ongoing monitoring and assessment of the situation, and is providing additional support to global servants and partners related to the Haitian Baptist Convention as we are able.
Dr. James profoundly reflects on the questions and challenges the current circumstances present for God’s people and mission in Haiti:
“What do we of Christic love do at this time? How do we all, partnered together, Haitian and non-Haitian, followers of Jesus our Lord, carry forward the incredible agenda of the great commission when all appears to be unraveling at record speed around us? What does Jesus want from us for Haiti now? How do we do mission? Education? Health Care? Evangelism? Church? Community? Peacemaking? If this present darkness is soon to be over in Haiti, perhaps we can bide the time and resume our ministries again for the Kingdom when fuel returns, energy, drinking water and sanitation again become available, when masses of the most vulnerable dear ones no longer die needlessly and anonymously in their homes from treatable illnesses and are again able to access the life-saving health centers and hospitals. But, should this new world of suffering continue, with no end in sight, with no hope on the horizon, what are we called to now? Are we, a people called to love, as Christ loves, those in agony on our doorstep, are we, at this moment, being asked by the Savior to be wise servants who know strategically what is needed in flexible creative imaginative ministry, discovering brand new venues of sacrificial serving love? These are dangerous times for all of us. Are we being called, in responding to and partnering with, our dear beloved community of heroic faith-doers in Haiti, to join with them in reaching new levels of Christ-centered courageous and nonviolent discipleship, joyfully and wisely loving our enemies, to be salt and light, healing love? How do we go forward together? Blind seekers in desperate hope. Show us the way, Lord, linked together in His love. Maranatha!”
International Ministries invites churches and individuals to join in prayer for Haiti and its people, for our Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ as well as the missionaries who support and serve alongside them, as they seek discernment for God’s direction in the immediate circumstances as well as for sustainable, effective long-term ministry in years ahead.
For more information, visit IM global servant’s pages:
Kihomi Ngwemi & Nzunga Mabudiga – https://internationalministries.org/author/kn-mabudiga/
Nancy & Steve James – https://internationalministries.org/author/ns-james/
Brian & Lynette Smith – https://internationalministries.org/author/bl-smith/