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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On the Ground in Haiti

By Hal Donaldson
April 4, 2010

A common question people ask in the aftermath of a disaster is: “How could God allow this?” Instead, I believe we should ask: “What has God been doing to prepare us for this?”

God was not caught off guard when a cataclysmic earthquake shattered the lives of thousands of Haitians on January 12. He had already opened unprecedented doors of outreach for Convoy of Hope and other compassion ministries across the nation. Because we conduct a daily feeding program for 11,000 children, we have a warehouse right outside Port-au-Prince, along with trucks supplied by Speed the Light. Our ministry to these thousands of children quickly transitioned into areawide relief.

Our country director, Kevin Rose, was standing on a third-floor balcony when the earthquake hit. He clutched a pillar, but as the earthquake rolled through the city he was able to run downstairs and into the street. Looking back, he saw the building sway as surrounding structures crumbled to the ground.

Almost immediately he saw a girl crushed by falling rubble. Within minutes he heard wails of anguish throughout the city. He walked from street to street, numbed by the magnitude of the destruction—the dead bodies, injured people and parents crying hopelessly for their children.

Kevin and workers from Mission of Hope, our partner ministry there, joined AG Missionaries Bill and Dorothy Smith and our Haiti AG brothers and sisters in mobilizing teams to distribute food and supplies. Originally, about 50,000 meals were in our warehouse, but thanks to the rapid, compassionate response to the tragedy, this number increased to more than 1 million meals within days. Twenty-five supply-filled containers on their way to Haiti became 40, with a combined weight of more than 1 million pounds.

God’s provision encompasses every aspect of our ministry, including the most basic necessity of fuel. Our fleet of trucks continues to run, despite Haiti’s shattered infrastructure. God also has  protected us during times of social unrest. On occasion, our teams have driven through hungry mobs to reach vital distribution points. We couldn’t begin to undertake a ministry of this scale and with these risks without divine guidance and intervention.

The most telling evidence of God’s favor is seen in the unity of believers around the world as they respond with a concerted act of compassion. In addition to churches and individuals in the United States, believers around the globe are entrusting their resources to the relief effort. People are coming together with no concern about who gets the credit. Their goal is getting the job done — saving lives and sharing the love of Christ.

The situation in Haiti will require a long-term relief effort. “At this point, it will be many months, if not years, in terms of long-term response,” says Greg Venturella, international operations director for Convoy of Hope who was in Haiti for five days helping with initial relief efforts. “It was in impoverished conditions before the disaster, and the earthquake only amplifies the situation.”

Across the spectrum of our ministry partners I see commitment for the long haul. I’ve witnessed firsthand this kind of resilience in ministry in the aftermath of Katrina, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and other disasters around the globe. These compassionate followers of Christ are determined to serve long term alongside community leaders and local churches to help people in need.

Inevitably, the day will come when the cameras stop rolling. The world will refocus on the next sports event, the next political shift or the next economic indicator. Funds will run out, and in some cases only a skeleton crew of relief workers will remain behind when the media blitz is over. But a core value of AG World Missions and Convoy of Hope is to stay until the job is done. When people give sacrificially to help the people of Haiti, they are entrusting precious resources to us. Our job is to help families, children and churches on their behalf until meaningful recovery is a reality.

“We are thankful to all the churches that have stepped up to rescue the poor and suffering in Haiti,” says Kary Kingsland, vice president of disaster response for Convoy of Hope.  “As a result, we’ve already made a significant difference in the lives of thousands of people. AG believers have once again demonstrated the compassion of Christ in a huge way.  It’s an honor to be used by God to give people hope that tomorrow can be better than today.”

I believe God was preparing hearts to respond with Christ’s love long before the first tremor rocked Haiti. He is still speaking to His followers to work together to get the job done.

I stood in a feeding line recently and listened as workers asked, “How can we pray with you?” Along with the food, water and resources pressed into desperately grasping hands, the peace of God that passes all understanding was quietly communicated in prayer.

Haiti’s collective heartache is immeasurable. But so is the grace and love of God now being expressed through the daily ministry of so many of His servants.

HAL DONALDSON is president and co-founder of Convoy of Hope and team leader for the Haiti relief efforts.

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