Restore Haiti, pt. 2

by Matthew Hansen on March 8th, 2011

Over the past couple days we have visited Restavek Freedom, Mission of Hope,Free Methodist Church, Thirst No More, Heartline Ministires and Stop Child Trafficking Now
and many other local leaders. These are all great organizations, but in the area of human-trafficking, which is the purpose for our trip, everyone says the same thing, “we don’t know, we want to know, and if you find out, please let us know!” Those are not the answers we were hoping for. They all know it is happening, and happening a lot, we've even been able to locate some key areas to watch. But they don't know any one who is doing anything, heck one organization even told us, IJM came, and then left do legal complications in the system.

After being part of the formation of Restore Communities I honestly believe when it comes to humanitarian issues, vision comes from need. And as we meet that need it begins to lead us to a deeper one, and then we are introduced to another one and so on, we just have to start somewhere with restorative justice, and it will evolve. It seems, that if we were to aim our efforts at just building safe homes, the best result would be simply that we could claim, “we built safe homes.” Not that we don’t need safe homes, but there is no support for them right now.
We need to dive deeper, and begin our work in the area of development and poverty alleviation. We need to create a frame work in which the houses work and are sustainable. We need systems and structures for purposes of sustainability. We need to begin to create a new paradigm while at the same time valuing and celebrating the Haitian culture. We need pastors and church leaders to teach their congregations the value of human life. A Theological lens for viewing women and children, is non-negotiable. Jean-Marc of the Free Methodist church in Haiti said, “when you have a country with need, children are the first ones to be overlooked.” We need a culture shift. In order to bring in a new paradigm, we need to start with the Gospel, not the line that Jesus came to save you from hell, as if the cross can be reduced to an eternal direction change. Sure it includes that, but that’s not it. The gospel is the full counsel of God, it begins with God and the narrative moves into creation, the fall, redemption and restoration. When the whole Gospel is laid as the foundation of all else we teach, train, and do, then our basic view of humanity has to change.
My favorite statement for the entire trip was by Jean-Marc, “the foundation of our gospel is not deep enough, as it does not lead to a commitment to social action.” His point being, no matter what we do in Haiti, no matter what we build, if it is not founded on and being projected from the whole gospel it will not be sustained. Jean-Marc and other pastor’s said, “if we can get pastors and theologians who understand the whole counsel of God to train us how to take our people through it, then we honestly believe that this country will begin to change, but it has to be Haitians helping Haitians.”
So, here seems to be the first three needs in creating the frame:

  • Pastor’s Helping Pastors: Can pastors help Haitian pastors find the justice thread that runs through the entirety of scriptures? Help them see that a commitment to justice is the result of a person saved by grace – They believe this will help them change the cultures in their churches and then cultures influenced by their churches.
  • Haitian’s Mentoring Haitians: Help the pastors here in Haiti create family mentoring programs for their families, to mentor other families. The truth is, the first ‘institution’ created is the family. Healthy families create healthy trajectories, just as broken families create unhealthy trajectories. We often call this discipleship, but it is helping entire families live with and lead families who need mentoring, to help the view of children begin to change. We know this will have upward movement and change.
  • Forwarding Their Agenda: Rather than coming in with our own agenda, we need to help, support, and empower the Haitian leaders forward their agenda. This is hard for us westerners to do, but here’s what we know: when we forward their agenda, we allow Haitians to take responsibility for their own nation, their own people. Then we know new needs will rise to the top, and we know these will eventually lead to hitting the subjects that pull at our heart strings the most: slavery, orphan, and poverty.

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