Posted by: John Adams | May 28, 2010

Update from Haiti

I’ve been in Haiti since Monday morning. Apart from a brief scare when I left my passport aboard the airplane (one of the great things about Haiti is being able to turn around, climb aboard and hunt for it without raising an eyebrow), this has been a pretty good trip. My brother, freshly graduated from college, is here as well, along with two of his college buddies, Ian and Jerry. They are experiencing Haiti for the first time, and we are trying to show them a good time.

We went and played basketball in the park the other day and drew quite the crowd for an intense game. Afterwards, a couple of guys tagged along with us to a hotel where we bought soft drinks and talked for a few hours. One of the guys seemed to be searching spiritually – I got to talk to him about Jesus for a while. He said he would be coming to church on Sunday, and I hope that he was telling the truth.

Tomorrow is our Bible school’s graduation. We have to dress up for the occasion, and I am not too thrilled about wearing a collared shirt and tie in this weather (the heat has been unbelievable so far), but it should be a fun experience watching some promise be born into the world. The Gospel is the hope of Haiti, and of the world, and it is always a beautiful thing to watch new preachers be commissioned into its service. I am looking forward to the ceremony.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this trip to Haiti. The last time I was in Haiti was January 12 – the day the earthquake happened. Cap-Haitien (my city) was relatively unaffected, with the exception of some refugees coming to stay with their relatives, and that wave has mostly subsided by now. Crisis management has given way to political frustration – there have been nationwide demonstrations against the government. Bottles were thrown and shots fired in town today over the lack of electricity in a particular neighborhood, which shows how fractious things are. The only way the people feel their voice will be heard is if they burn tires and make a public show of their misery.

I am trying not to slip into the trap (so easy to fall into) of insulating myself emotionally from the intense need present here. The need is so great, the condition of everything so broken, the situation of the country so intractable, and my ideas of what to do about it so limited that the natural reaction is to compartmentalize the way you feel about the country and to try not to think about it. That is precisely what most people of means in this country do. I believe that it is also exactly the way that the devil wants people to react.

In a couple of weeks, I will be speaking at a youth conference hosted by my church. The text I will be preaching out of is Hebrews 13:12-17, a passage which talks about how Christ suffered outside the city gates – in the unclean, unholy, shameful outside of Jerusalem, like a common criminal – in order to make his people holy. The reaction Christ expects from his newly sanctified people, the text makes clear, is that they follow Him out into the Great Outdoors.

Under the OT system, sacrifices were made within the confines of the Temple, where the presence of God dwelt, in order to make atonement for the sins of the people. Christ, however, made atonement outside the city gates to make his people pure once and for all. There is no need for a repetition of sacrifice, since the sacrifice made the people pure forever.

In OT times, the presence of God was limited to the Most Holy Place, where only holy people and holy objects could enter and abide. Christ, however, has sanctified all that was once unclean through the shedding of His own blood. His people are now the “Most Holy Place,” the place where His Spirit dwells, and they now bear His presence into the world. Like Jesus, they carry a presence that sanctifies all it touches. That is why the author of Hebrews pleads with us to “go out and meet him, where he is.”

The burden that I want to share with the youth here in Haiti is to be people who heed Jesus’ invitation into the Great Outdoors. As John Piper says, Christians should be people who move toward need, not comfort. Heaven will be all the comfort we could ever hope for. The 70 or 80 years God allots to us on this earth are meant to be cruciform years, years shaped of the cross in anticipation of the day that we will share in Christ’s resurrection power.

Anyway, that’s what I’m going to be talking about in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I will be studying and trying to keep an open heart and not allow myself to become callous to the need all around.

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Responses

  1. ur formulating thoughts sound good so far, John…i’ll be in prayer for both the conference and ur word…love u bro 🙂

  2. “The Gospel is the hope of Haiti, and of the world…” Amen.


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