In light of the ongoing disaster in Haiti, a spark has been lit in the hearts of millions to offer aid to the less fortunate among us. Millions have been raised, almost overnight, in a sign of true, genuine affection for a neighboring country that has seen a horrific earthquake that has paralyzed an already crippled people. My fear, however, is that the normal trend is that in a few weeks or months this news story will become obsolete. People will stop tuning in to the broadcasts meaning that the media outlets will begin to look for stories that simply make more money. We will return to our lives as usual, and many people will be forced to try to overcome their hardship on their own.
In a way it is obvious why the front end help of a disaster is so much more appealing. We get to hear stories of people being saved from the wreckage. We hear of doctors who are helping with births, bringing a ray of hope as new life is born in the midst of such tragedy. There is something heroic about these stories; something that captivates our hearts and our minds. We cannot, however, let this interfere with the truth that recovery takes a very long time, and there is nothing less heroic about giving, going, or praying one, two, or even three years down the road.
It is vitally important that at least some of our churches and denominations devote themselves to the long-term reconstruction and redevelopment that will be necessary to get Haiti on its feet. We not only need to keep up to date with the rescue operations, but we also need to remain completely involved in the projects that are to come, those projects that will be necessary for those who survived to continue to thrive.
Scripture tells us, “That in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God is already at work redeeming this disaster and it has been evidenced by the initial outpouring of love to the people of Haiti. Let us now bind together and vow to help our neighbors not only survive the coming days, but to recover a sense of livelihood in the years to come.
There are many organizations in and around Atlanta which are beginning to make plans for the long term recover process. The Fuller Center for Housing, based in Americus, GA, is making plans to aid in the reconstruction of houses for those which were lost, and they are hoping to make houses that will be earthquake and hurricane resistant. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, based in Atlanta, GA, has medically trained field personnel in Haiti, and they are in the process of establishing a staging area through which to channel help. The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church is asking parishioners to pack health kits, specifications for which can be found on their website. There is much help that can be provided, and I pray that we will take seriously the call to partner with these people in helping them attain all that God desires for them.