Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti – One Week Later

One week after the devastating Haitian earthquake hope is fast fading to find any survivors buried under the countless tons of debris. The focal point has begun to shift now to keeping those who lived through the disaster alive. Sadly, the absence of adequate medical help is causing many who were rescued to then painfully perish due to infection from unattended wounds. As one news anchor put it, “These are stupid senseless deaths.”

The main problem with getting the life-saving supplies to those that can still be saved is the clogged roadways, mangled port and a badly damaged airport. Officials claim that the runways should be operational in 2-3 days. Good news to many, yet news too late to help others. There are some 3,5000 U.S. military personnel on the ground in Haiti with more on the way. Hopefully their presence will help prevent more looting and the violence that has arisen from hungry and desperate people. So far, more than 30 countries have responded with some form of aid to the cause.

There are a reported 200,000-300,000 orphans in Haiti - and that was before the quake! In addition, a staggering 40 percent of Haiti's population is made up of children under the age of 14. This prompted Dr Irwin Redlener of Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness to say, "This could turn into a children's disaster of unprecedented proportions. Kids are more susceptible to infections, dehydration and shock. And of course there is a tremendous emotional impact.”

The numbers of the dead remain unknown as so many are still missing and because mass graves around the city have become commonplace. The Pan American Health Organization are estimating the death toll at 50,000-100,000 while the Haitian government said the number from Tuesday's quake was likely between 100,000 and 200,000. Either figure makes the event one of the greatest natural disasters in all of human history. One positive trend is that individual Americans have already donated more funds to the relief effort in Haiti than was given during Hurricane Katrina.

In John’s gospel chapter fourteen, Jesus was speaking to His disciples. Beginning with verse 15, He offered both a command and a promise. The command was for those who know Him and claim to live for and serve Him. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." The promise then uttered in the next few verses had to due with the aftermath of His earthly departure. “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Those in Jesus’ day were well aware of the existence and plight of literal orphans and His guarantee to His own spiritual children would have been beyond comforting.

James chapter one also references orphans and also offers two straightforward commands for those indwelled by the ultimate Comforter in the person of the Holy Spirit of God. Verse 27 reads, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

If there was ever a golden opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ to fulfill God’s will by meeting the dire needs in the lives of physical and spiritual orphans – Haiti offers it. Actually Haiti demands it - now!

Proverbs 31:8-9 spells out well what should be the heart’s attitude, and the tongue’s activity, on behalf of so many, who are suffering so much, and likely for so long.

“Open your mouth for the speechless,In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

Bill Breckenridge

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