Debt, Dictatorship and Disaster – A brief history of Haiti

Steve BellLike so many Christians, I was stunned  by Pat Robertson’s  suggestion that Haiti’s current woes issue from  a curse following some ancient “pact with the devil” in the days of Haiti’s founding (a statement for which Mr. Robertson received a sound Shakespeareanesque thumping from CBC’s Rex Murphy  – see HERE.)

And then again –  after posting a plea on Facebook for people to sign the ONE Campaign’s petition to erase Haiti’s odious debts to international financial institutions –   several responses surfaced the opinion that Haiti’s sufferings are largely self imposed.

Pickin 'n grinnin in Bangladesh
Pickin 'n grinnin in Bangladesh / click photo to enlarge

I don’t claim the smarts to understand the matrix of causes behind systemic poverty, and I certainly don’t hold to a simplistic idea of the noble poor and the evil rich. But I have lived for a decade in one of Canada’s poorest neighborhoods.  I have traveled to India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Ethiopia, Kenya, West Bank, Thailand and throughout the Caribbean. I have read many books on the dynamics of systemic poverty and sat in on many dialogues among folks who are leading advocates for the poor. Rarely, if ever, have I encountered individuals or societies whose poverty could be said to be deserved. And rarely, if ever, have I met those who are entirely innocent of complicity in the suffering of others.

In the case of Haiti, a quick bit of research reveals a brutal feedback loop of external and internal predatory malice,  international indifference and climactic shock that will require a patient, compassionate, wise and multifaceted response if healing and flourishing is to eventuate – for Haiti’s history has been birthed in debt, borne by dictatorship and bludgeoned by disasters – a legacy of suffering that perhaps now, might receive the attention it needs.

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Brief History

(Culled from several articles cited at bottom of page)

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  • DEBT

In 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and Dominican) was populated by an estimated 8 million native Taino amerindians who were all but annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years of Columbus’ initial voyage. The Spanish eventually ceded the western half of the island to France in 1697. Named Saint-Dominique, the new colony, through heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation, quickly became the wealthiest colony in the Caribbean.

By 1789,  twenty nine thousand African slaves were arriving each year in Saint-Dominique which meant enormous wealth for France and unspeakable horror for the slaves, one third of whom died within three years of their arrival.

Battle at San Domingo
Battle at San Domingo

In 1794, a slave uprising began and within ten years the French were expelled and Haiti became the only nation in the world’s history to be born of a successful slave revolt.

France, refusing to let  her “rights” to the land and its inhabitants go uncompensated, posted warships off Haiti’s coast, and after 25 years of international isolation and threat supported by the U.S. and Europe, Haiti agreed to take out a loan from a designated French bank and pay compensation to French plantation owners for their loss of “property,” including the freed slaves. The amount of the debt –  the modern equivalent of 21 billion dollars – was ten times that of Haiti’s total 1825 revenue and twice the price of the Louisiana Purchase, paid by the United States to France (a year before Haiti’s independence) for seventy-four times more land.

This imposition of compensation by a defeated power and reimbursement by freed slaves of their former owners is unique in history and violated international law even in 1825. The 1825 agreement began a cycle of debt that has condemned the Haitian people to poverty ever since  whose government has some years paid up to 80% of it’s annual revenues to service debt.  Needless to say,  money for the most basic infrastructure enjoyed by most western nations was not available. Haiti did not finish paying the loans that financed the debt until 1947. Over a century after the global slave trade was recognized and eliminated as the evil it was, the Haitians were still paying their ancestors’ masters for their freedom.

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  • DICTATORSHIP

Although an independent government was created in Haiti in 1804, its society continued to be deeply affected by the patterns established under French colonial rule. The French established a system of minority rule over the illiterate poor by using violence and threats. The racial prejudice created by colonialism and slavery outlived them both. The post-rebellion racial elite continued  the legacy of oppressive rule with  military coups and kleptocracies that have been the relentless blight on Haiti since.

"Pap Doc" Duvalier
"Papa Doc" Duvalier

As recently as 1957-86 Haiti was ruled by U.S. supported “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son who for thirty years diverted foreign assistance to their own personal  interests accounting for over half of Haiti’s current debt to foreign lenders. It is estimated that over 30,000 of Duvalier’s political enemies were executed under his repressive rule.

Today, there are almost 10 million people in Haiti who share the collective debt of roughly 900 million dollars.  Do the math – considering that the average annual income in Haiti is $270, – the recently orphaned 4 year old Haitian child owes the world almost half of an annual adult income.

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  • DISASTER
Hurricaine Gustav / 08
Hurricane Gustav / 08

There is much debate about the cause of global warming, but little about it’s reality and it’s profound effect on the world’s poor. A few years ago, Nance and I were in the Afar desert in Ethiopia where we met  native inhabitants  mercilessly  beleaguered, as they were, by the increased frequency and intensity of drought as a result of global warming. A year later, we visited the coast of Bangladesh and met several who had just survived Cyclone Sidr which produced a 25 foot sea swell that killed tens of thousands of people and millions of livestock in a single wave of terror. The frequency of storms there is increasing in tandem with  the droughts in Ethiopia.

haiti-7Haiti has had a similar misfortune of geography in the last several years. In 2004, flooding left 5000 dead and many homeless. And then last year, the hurricane season of 2008 was the cruelest ever experienced in Haiti. Four storms–Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike–dumped heavy rains on the impoverished nation. The rugged hillsides, stripped bare of 98% of their forest cover thanks to deforestation (largely denuded because people can’t afford more expensive forms of fuel), let flood waters rampage into large areas of the country. Eight hundred people were killed, millions left homeless and 70% of crops were wiped out.

Then, this past week’s earthquake will likely have taken well over 100,000 lives and leveled a city of over a million people. The aftermath of this disaster is incalculable.

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Andrei Rublev's The Savior of ZvenigorodThis morning, my devotional took me to Luke’s Gospel (chapter 4). Having just  endured demonic temptations to engage  the beleaguered world through  power, spectacle and manipulation, Jesus –  full of the Spirit – takes up and reads from the book of Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me… to preach good news to the poor… bind up the broken-hearted… proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. ”

Isaiah 61 says more about God’s heart, “ to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes… the oil of gladness instead of mourning… a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair… and they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.”

May our responses to Haiti –  to all suffering humanity and the groaning creation – reflect the character and intentions of the One whose word and deed are one.

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Song

Dessert Eyes | Afar Region | Ethiopia

One night, while visiting a growing project in the Afar Desert in Ethiopia, the villagers gathered to sing and dance for us.  As long as I live I will not forget the power and beauty of that dance, the exquisite clothing, the searing proud eyes and the setting African sun turning the billowing dance-loosed dust into visual beatitude.  After returning home, I sat down with my friend Glen Soderholm and together we wrote this song taken from Isaiah 61 cited above. It could just have easily been written for Haiti. The song focuses on God’s delight in persons and place.

Click on song title to listen:

The Fast I Choose

The Fast I Choose (Steve Bell | Glen Soderholm)

Beauty for a crown
Oil of gladness raise
Comforting those who morn
Royal robes of praise

As the soil conceals what’s sown
The garden causes seeds to grow

These are the work of my hands
These are the shoot I have planted here
For the display of my splendour here
In these beleaguered (enchanted) lands
These are the ones I have loved
These are the ones I have called my own
These are the priests of a sacred home
These are the ones
These are the ones I love

This, the fast I choose
The song I want to hear
Let the bonds be loosed
The day is drawing near

Blessed be these lovely ones
Dancing in the setting sun…

To view video of this Song click HERE

For some ideas on how to help Haiti, I’ve posted some of the things we, at Signpost, are doing HERE.

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Articles used for this blog:

Haiti’s Unhappy History

A Pariah History – some promising starts and now this

External Debt Of Haiti

Odious Debt – in international law, odious debt is a legal theory which holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the interests of the nation should not be enforceable.   The debt belongs to the regime, not the nation.

Haiti Needs Justice, Not Charity

Haitian Revolution

47 thoughts on “Debt, Dictatorship and Disaster – A brief history of Haiti

  1. very thoughtful article Steve. I am glad you are doing this. What do you know about solar ovens? As I read about the deforestation and the resulting losses of crops , homes and lives I am encouraged to keep working on this as well as other interventions which are more root cause focused. God bless you.

  2. Thank you, Steve…. that was a wonderful read about Haiti… some of which I didn’t know.

    Despite the reasons why horrific things happen in this world, Christians are not called to judge and find fault but to extend the the love and heart of God to others as we would want done back to us…. I love that scripture verse you used in Isaiah 61… I believe that is the true heart and gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

  3. Thanks Steve — I’ll try to send a few more visitors this way to read. I think a lot of us in North America need to realize the crushing circumstances that Haitians experience, and take a moment to think about what it means to be in a place you don’t want to be and have no power to escape.

  4. Steve,
    I clicked on a link to this our mutual friend, Julia Beazley, posted to Facebook. I really appreciated the history lesson and your thoughtful comments. And I’m enjoying the song as I write. Thank you. May Christ show you his love and grace in a fresh new way today.
    Jonathan Burns
    Burlington, ON

  5. Steve;

    Thanks for doing the research I don’t have time do. I wonder if Pat Robertson could explain face to face to a 5 year old Haitian who is starving, without a home, without safety, that he would love to help him but can’t, because of a pact the Haitian child made with the devil. Hmmmmm, don’t think even he could do it.

    Regards,
    Jeff St. Cyr
    Calgary Alberta

  6. Thank you, Steve. I needed that. Thank you for using your ministry to help us become more informed and more like Jesus.
    I will send your blog posting to my friends and family.

  7. God bless you Steve for your e-mail today. You certainly made me much more aware of all that I did not know about Haiti. It’s such a shame when even those who call themselves Christians would stoop so low to say such things about God’s children. I have forwarded your e-mail to many of my friends to spread the wonderful song and video you share and hope that many will come out tomorrow for such a great cause. May God be with you and that you continue be such a blessing to others.
    Blessings,
    Oakville, ON

  8. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for taking the time dear Steve. My heart breaks for a country so destitute. With so much of the fault, for years and years, due to the absolute power and greed of France, with support from the US.
    Along with their natural disasters.
    The Haitian people themselves are innocent in the realism of this dire dichotomy.
    However and unfortunately, they are the ones that have suffered the aggressions, and still do!

  9. Good article Steve.

    A thought … A nation’s spiritual heritage shouldn’t be discounted though don’t you think? … I wonder if “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s reign of terror may have had a long lasting impact on Haiti that shouldn’t be ignored … Would a nation that has “sorcery” as it’s national faith suffer as a result?

    It would be truly wonderful if the people of Haiti would rise up en masse and renounce Vodou …
    Meanwhile, the body of Christ everywhere should extend a hand of love and generosity as is commanded, and to pray for the true destiny of Haiti to be fulfilled.

    I love this statement (prophesy) from YWAMHaiti.org:

    “It’s ironic that Haiti, being the point of entry for the Gospel into the western hemisphere through Christopher Colombus in 1492, is known today for voodoo, poverty and government turmoil. Yet we believe that God has a plan for Haiti. From this nation blessing will go forth! How? By Haitians proclaiming the Gospel throughout the nations. This nation, known for poverty, will be known for giving. As it was known for unrest, it will be known for peace, and the nations will be blessed because of her.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Duvalierresource:


    reply from Steve:
    Cristoph – is sorcery the national faith? I’m not so sure you would get much agreement for that from Haitians.

  10. Surely Haitian Christians must be some of the deepest most faithful Christians in the world. I saw a woman on CTV news last night who has taken responsibility for dozens of orphans rescued from a collapsed school. She is their only help, feeding them as best she can from her meager resources – while they wait for medical care to arrive. Some are dying. Asked if she gets angry, she actually smiled peaceflly and said, “No. I accept God’s will and go on.” (…caring for those she can help).

    This woman is a saint and if indeed “…the last will be first,” she’s already a Queen in God’s kingdom. There are other stories of Haitians continuing to praise God in the midst of tragedy. How inspiring.

    Thanks for your sensitive, intelligent and helpful insights into Haiti’s history!

  11. Interesting response, Steve, but you omit that TRUTH of what Pat Robertson (bless his unpopular shooting-from-the-hip verbal gaffes) actually said. I have been to Haiti, witnessed strong Christian ministry there, and still shudder to realize the depth of demonic influence over that nation. I have friends who have adopted Haitian orphans, and found their own homes filled with turmoil as they tried to raise the kids in a Christian atmosphere; it seems the curse over Haiti follows her people wherever they go.

    In the 1960s, we talked with valiant Christian Haitian pastors trying to subdue their own people from their bestial-type behavior long enough to hear the message of Christ’s redemption, Godly men whose faith was strong but results were few. Those pastors unanimously confirmed Robertson’s assertion that they were living under a curse imposed over their poor nation in the 1700s, a satanic pact to expel the whites from their island.

    What you — and evidently most of the world, including too many of the Christian population — was the part where Robertson expressed great sympathy for the earthquake-ravaged Haitians, promised financial and material resources to help those suffering, and prayed strongly against the powers of darkness in Haiti. Although Rev. Robertson is sometimes blunt and doesn’t carefully choose his words (I suppose he doesn’t believe in political correctness), he was not in error.

    Help for Haiti is not a bandaid solution of clean water and medicine … nor is it a quasi-military government to bring the citizens (especially the criminals loosed from the prison) under control … nor is it a vast education process to bring the illiterate into the 21st century and away from centuries of voodoo culture. Help for Haiti is all of these things, but FIRST it must be breaking the spiritual bondage over that nation, the cleansing power of the Spirit of God reaching deep into hearts, and the introduction of a Christ-based culture.

    Good for you that you consulted several secular sources for the information you passed along, much which is accurate, but none which addresses the reality of Satan’s grip over Haiti. Does anyone else ponder why Haiti — half of an island which it shares with the Dominican Republic — was so hard hit, yet the Dominican Republic barely shivered at all?

    Most Christians try to ignore the Bible passages that talk about God’s judgement. What happened in Haiti amazingly resembles ancient stories; among many others, see: Psalm 9:8; 98:9 … Jeremiah 11:20 … Romans 2:5-7. My prayer is that God’s grace will abound in Haiti, her people will not only seek the hand of God through international aid efforts but will sincerely seek the face of God and turn from their wicked ways. My husband and I have given generously through our church to help provide sustenance for Haiti, but now I am on my knees praying for Haiti’s salvation.

  12. Steve – this is astounding and tragic. How did we in the “enlightened” west let this happen. I have come to know a few Haitian families living in Hamilton/Burlington over the past few years. l feel like going to them, giving them a hug and saying sorry.

    Thanks for being the Christian voice in Canada speaking God’s heart for justice.

  13. Thank you for your thoughts on Haiti, and the links. Also thank you for sharing your song. Very soothing and beautiful.

  14. I would strongly disagree with Jeanne. God is Just and if this is God’s judgement for a pact made with the devil, as Pat Robertson so callously suggests, then what judgement can we expect on the US and Western Nations who have openly denied God, celebrated humanism and taken God’s Glory for ourselves? It is not for any of us, especially people in the position of responsibility that Pat Robertson is, to decide what is God’s judgement or not – that is for God alone to know and decide!
    Secondly, this isn’t a question of ‘political correctness’. Pat Robertson has been given a unique position of responsibility by God and should be far more careful about choosing his words and the carefully consider the consequence of those words. Pat Robertson violated the responsibility given to him and positioned himself in a place of arrogance and self righteousness with ill-chosen words and opinion.
    Thirdly, the Haitians who made this so called pact were not calling on satan, but the only god/gods they knew for help as people all over the world have done throughout history. I am not making excuses for them, but this is a time to let our light shine in the darkness and for God to work His love through His people.

    Let us also choose our words carefully and our actions even more so! Pat Robertson’s generosity and compassionate gifts would be received far more differently now had he been careful to separate personal opinion and arrogance from what God wanted to express through him.

  15. Well put, and well researched. Too bad most of this will never be heard on CNN and most people will never have any idea of the big picture. Thanks for sharing. Truly Isaiah 61 reflects God’s heart for Haiti.

  16. Hi Steve,

    Enjoyed this article but would have to agree that some mention of the religious history and climate of Haiti – both the Christian and voodoo elements needs to be brought into the discussion to add to an understanding of the country.

    Can you come up with a fourth “D” that might apply?

  17. Thanks Steve for this very insoightful article….very well written and informative.
    God bless you for your time and efforts in this cause.
    Ron Niikkel wrote a very good article on the same lines of compassion as you.

    Down here in Austin the whole city has had ‘Haitian Releif Concerts’ and I took part in one on Monday and artists and people alike have been very giving to help. I was and remain moved by the compassion of this city.

    God bless

    Danny

  18. I too have been to Haiti, to cuddle babies in an orphanage; babies who often have at least one living parent but who cannot afford to feed their precious children. In this same orphanage on the night following the earthquake with the babies and nannies sleeping out on the driveway, those amazing nannies were praising God as they sang “How great Thou art” I am not sure if I could show such faith in such circunstances.

  19. I heard on the news that Duvalier has donated 8 million dollars from his “own” money (money he got from “his mother) to HAITI.
    Interesting.

  20. Steve,

    Thanks for a wonderfully informative and well written article. I am not only saddened by the terrible plight of the Haitian people but that references to Pat Robertson needed to be included in both the beginning and the the end of your piece. This was really not necessary. After hearing so much hatred toward Pat Robertson I felt people have been taking one man’s words out of context and that the end result was taking the focus away from what we all need to do for Haiti which is help.

    Blessings and peace
    Robert Adams

  21. Steve, I really am blessed by your ministry in music, but you have done the Christian community a disservice with your lack of complete research on this piece. I respectfully ask if you actually watched Robertson’s full statement? I doubt it, because if you had you would have seen that he was stating a fact that is well known in Haiti and part of the historical record. Christianity in Haiti is very much intermingled with Voodoo. Robertson was not condemning the Haitian people, but was expressing deep condolences toward them and telling about the efforts that Operation Blessing (run by the 700 Club) was undertaking to begin bringing relief to the devastated people of this impoverished land. Don’t take Rex Murphy’s word for it. Dig a little deeper to find the truth rather than giving a knee jerk reaction to the very incomplete story provided in the secular press.

    May God continue to bless you and your ministry.

    Bob – I have seen what Mr. Robertson said. I am aware he is probably doing more financially for Haiti now than I will do in a lifetime. I’m sure he’s a fine man who loves his wife, children, pays taxes and is concerned for the world. His words however – in a long line of remarkable responses to world events and movements – betray a view of God and how God acts in history that I have been fighting my whole life, the damage of which is clearly seen in the lives of many friends and family around me personally, and in the secular responses of those such as Rex Murphy. – Steve

  22. Thanks Steve for allowing me to loose some sleep tonight. My wife and I read this above post at midnight and you have fuelled my passion for the poor and basically got me too pumped to sleep. It is nearly 1:30AM and I thought I would write a response.

    Before saying much else I must say after writing your amazing Blog on Haiti, in my opinion and understanding (if I interpreted your words correctly), you almost ruined your great blog with what my wife and I took as a judgemental thump of Pat Robertson… “I know the above is a slightly different gospel than that of Brother Robertson – but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Are you suggesting that Pat Robertson and his house/family don’t serve the Lord?

    Anyway, I am inspired and encourage by your passion and words regarding the poor, justice etc. I told my wife, I wish Steve was my buddy and I could talk about poverty, justice, a Christian’s response over coffee with Steve now and again. Than I told my wife, maybe Steve will be sent to jail for some really crazy reason and will loose all his friends and fans… except me, I will visit Steve in jail and discuss the poor over tea. LOL (These are the actual thoughts that went through my mind as I read your blog)

    Thanks Steve for encouraging us!

    ~ Will

    Thanks Will – your words are right and mine were poorly chosen. I’ve changed them. – Steve

  23. Thanks for the reply Steve.

    I too have (and still do) struggle with and have been damaged by that particular view of God, but I also struggle with squaring the circle with God as heavenly grandfather. God is more faceted (dare I say ‘manifold?’) than my poor little brain can imagine! Healing and forgiveness for past wounds is coming to me through the work of John Eldridge (Ransomed Heart Ministries) and Fr. Bob Bedard (Food for Life).

    I agree that some groups have majored in the minors to the detriment of all. Only showing one side of God is incorrect. There have been too many heresies started by folks concentrating on only one aspect of God’s nature while ignoring the rest. The Bible contains many terrifying examples of God’s wrath as well as His undying love and compassion. To be honest, the contrast kind of creeps me out. I can only stand in awe and hope for His mercy. His ways are not our ways.

    Regardless, we have all been given an opportunity to show these hurting people and the rest of the world the love and compassion of Christ in our response to this situation and how we live our lives. To quote a talented musician I know, “We MUST Do Something!”

    My prayers are with you tonight in Calgary. Keep up the “good” work the Lord has given you.

    Bob

  24. Steve, you didn’t mention the leader of the slave revolt was a witch doctor named Boukman. They sacrificed a pig and drank its blood to form a pact with the devil, whereby they agreed to serve the spirits of the island for 200 years in exchange for freedom from the French. In in April 2003, President Aristide made voodoo an official religion in Haiti declaring, “voodoo is an essential part of national identity.”

    I heard Pat on the 700 club and he didn’t say God judged Haiti. He said to pray for revival in Haiti and help the people of Hait in this time.

    As Christians we can’t hide the truth that there is a devil and there are curses and blessings. Satan roams around like a roaring lion seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.

    Yes, we as Christians reach out with love through our money, care, and aid. We also preach the truth of God’s word and command men everywhere to repent and come to faith in Christ.

    I’ve met Pat Robertson and am a supporter of Operation Blessing which ministers and meets the needs of people from all over the world regardless of their faith. But there mission is to set men free through Jesus. We can’t allow political correctness to silence the truth. Truth will solve a lot of the problems of the world. The world don’t want truth, they want to live their way without consequences and that is not reality.

    I appreciate you and love to read your blogs. They inspire me and challenge me. Keep doing the great work that you do. I’m for you not against you. God Bless! Mike

  25. Steve,
    Thank you SO much for this post of labor and love.
    You have no idea how needed this was as I’ve been engaging w/ some fellow-Christians on this very issue.

    Blessings to you and your ministry always,

    Ed Verbeke

    Pittsburgh, PA

  26. Thank you for your email on Haiti. I have a friend Andrea who comes from there. When she heard of the disaster she started to pray and fast for family members and also for her house which is right in Port a Prince. She has heard that her house is fine and family members through satilet radio New York family members are ok accept for a few cousins that she has not heard from yet. I beleive in the power of prayer. God hears and our prayers do not come back void. I believe our God will do mighty things for this nation and rightness will prevail. So keep praying.

  27. Steve…let us reason together, brother. If PAT had said that because the earthquake had been caused by a 200 year old curse, that we shouldn’t extend any help to these people, that would have been wrong. But you know that’s not the case. If you added up the aid that Pat’s “Operation Blessing” has put into Haiti over the years, it would be in the Millions. How many missionaries are in Haiti today because of support from CBN? MANY. The tonnage of relief supplies that are being sent to Haiti paid for through CBN will be in the thousands. Would you have gotton upset at Jesus he had announced at the beggining of the Sermon on the Mount that, “Oh, by the way, I am here because you are all under an ancient curse!” It would have been true. I believe that the work you are doing now is to break the power of that curse over people’s lives as you travel and sing.

    “Operation Blessing” was the first international aid on the scene after the tsunami in Indonesia, brother.

    He was just looking at the big picture. CBN”S planes and ships and trucks and doctors were already moving.

    LOVE IN CHRIST! JIM MORFORD, LAKE LIMESTONE, TX.

  28. Hi Steve and everyone. I think that after reading most of the comments here, everything that could be said has been said. However, none of us are perfect and we also have our own ideas. We specially don’t like a well known “Christian” to make the rest of us look bad either. 😉
    I heard the most awesome message last Sunday from our Pastor on Legalism in the Church. Part 2
    Here is the link:

    http://www.seasidecommunity.org/

    This Pastor is from India and lives in NS.
    Have a listen – it did me good
    Jerry Lemieux

  29. Thank you for sharing your heart for the people of Haiti. I, like many others, tend to focus on the internal evils in Haiti while ignorant of their plight and unsympathic for their present state. You have caused me to reconsider these poor people, and see them through the eyes of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are praying for the country but now our prayers will be filled with more compassion for these who are ones whom Christ loves and died for.

  30. I am non religious, so unburdened by all the “Christian” retoric. To me the disaster in Haiti is just one more terrible event in the history of one of the poorest countries in the world, that, over a period of centuries, has been exploited by the wealthy for their own benefit. What a pity that the slave revolt only lasted 10 years.
    Have any of the “rightous” considered that perhaps Hurricane Katrina was God’s anger with the USA?

  31. My gratitude for your work is so encouraging to me. I read, watched and listened and learned, you fulfill your mission as teacher in this posting. I have been so triggered by all the Haiti news. You go to the heart of it for me with your transmission of humane understanding. I respect you so much. Understanding tempered my helpless distress. I thank you, blessings Steve.
    Leila Ward, Vernon, BC

  32. Was at the concert at Center Street for Haiti last night .
    Just wanted to say that my wife and I really enjoyed your music. I was touched by “He will Know It” and the story behind it. It is amazing when God reaches out to us. I have been personally been blessed with such an experience.
    Keep up the great work.

    God bless
    Cal

  33. Steve, your compassion and sense of global conscience, accompanied as it is by your inspirational words and music are.. what can I say, the epitome of what it means to be an artist. You convey to us all the enfleshing of God’s heart in a way that is both savory and compelling. The only thing I might add, by way of contemplation, and consolation, is that I believe these little ones who suffer and die, in the aftermath of so much injustice and tragedy, are in fact closest to God and readiest for entry into His Presence, though that thought in no way negates one iota the level of the injustice,or tragedy, nor our collective and individual responsibility to them, our brothers and sisters. It only implies that the opposite is also true.. Those of us still here, are here for a reason; He leaves us here on earth, in the “Valley of Decision,” to give us time..He waits.. for us to Choose Life..the Way, truth and the Life, and TO LIVE THAT OUT IN ACTION. May His mercy prevail! …and draw all hearts to Himself, through all of these events. If we choose to LOVE, then we need not be afraid!” God bless you Steve.. for shining His light so beautifully.

  34. Thankyou for your well written history of Haiti and your demonstration of great compassion. I have been searching for stories that reflect the great tenacity of the Haitian people as a result of Pat Robertson’s destructive statements. You have helped to restore my faith in Christians’ humanitarian nature. Thankyou again.

  35. Truly beautiful song!!! Thanks so much for such a great article and for showing the love and compassion that our brothers in Haiti need at this time. God bless you abundantly.

  36. Thanks for this blog Steve. So great to get the history. My wife’s family were missionaries in Haiti and there are still many there she knows.

    Leaving about Haiti just helps me understand more what she is going through and what the people are going through.

    I posted the link to your blog on my Facebook page. Hope that is okay.

  37. Hi, Steve. Saw you sing in Dunstable Church, Dunstable, Mass a few years ago. You’re 100%, here. Jesus’ instructions to us did not tell us to qualify those we help as deserving, but to help those in need. So whether or not the Haitians ‘deserved’ an earthquake is irrelevant and incredibly arrogant of us to even consider. Jesus said, ‘Feed the hungry,’ (my paraphrase), not, ‘Feed the hungry whom you think deserve feeding.’ And He continued to say that when we deny help to the marginalized, we are denying Him (Matt 25). God bless you, Brother…….Bud

  38. Steve,

    Well stated my friend! I agree with the sentiment expressed that we are to feed the hungry and serve the poor. God will judge. We are to love.

    On another note, I too have had tendonitis over many years and am praying for your RSI injury to only be temporary and quickly healed.

    Blessings to you in your travels!

    Dave

  39. What is happening in Haiti reminds many natural disasters that happened in my country (Indonesia). Instructions for emergency response for countries that are in natural disaster-prone zones like Haiti and Indonesia is required. So as to minimize casualties.

  40. Hi Steve, as a self-described liberal, it’s not surprising that you would consider Pat Robertson anathema. However, promoting Rex Murphy’s vitriol does all your readers a disservice and effectively stoops to Pat’s level.
    If you’re inclined towards a less knee-jerk reaction and, I dare say, a more accurate history, kindly take a gander at the following site, and I quote: [M]any Haitian Protestants today find the history of the Bwa Kayiman [Voodoo] ceremony offensive and believe that this was the exact historical moment when Haiti was “consecrated to the Devil.”
    (see: http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2010/02/18/haitis-pact-with-the-devil-some-haitians-believe-this-too/)
    I was born and raised in Africa. I’m convinced that a significant component of the plight of the poor we encounter around the world today is also a spiritual poverty. Clearly there are humanitarian solutions. But after their bellies are full and their beds are made, ultimately, people need the Lord Jesus Christ in their heart.

  41. .ps. I do like the lyrics to your song. Seeing the farming in the video I was reminded of another thing: I was surprised to learn elsewhere in your blogs that most farmers in the world are women. Teaching mothers to be self-sufficient is of course a good thing. But I wonder what will happen to their sons and daughters if the humanitarian effort is to nourish, but not to teach and train, so that the next generation has a leg up? How many decades have we been providing humanitarian aid, only to find that years later, the now-grown children are no better off than their mothers? There’s got to be a better way…

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