Book Club Channel
Searching for Faith Amidst the Ruins: An Interview with Haiti Partners Founder Kent Annan
It's amazing to see people like my friend and colleague Enel make it through that and continue working. He helped set up one of these learning centers for the kids. He's already done training for a micro-credit program that we will be offering in many churches. So to see a person like him, who barely escaped with his life, who literally watched his classmates die right in front of him—and he too was badly injured—to see him getting to work to help his fellow countrymen is pretty astonishing.
It's humbling to see the patience of people waiting for aid, the work people are doing to recover, and then people like Enel, who is already moving on to helping other people.
What is your impression of the spiritual condition of the Haitians right now? There were stories of people gathering in the city squares to sing hymns in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. What's your impression of the general spiritual sense there now?
I'm always reluctant to claim to know an overall sense, and I wasn't in the country when the earthquake happened. But from the people I've spoken to, what was astonishing at first was the sheer gratitude to be alive. They had just survived this unbelievable devastation. Then, when I went to Haiti last week, the gratitude remains, but they're also seeing how hard the road ahead is, and what it will take for them to continue to survive and rebuild.
At the same time, Enel, who is a pastor as well, says that his church has never been more full. We see praise and prayer. A week and a half ago, I went to a worship service with hundreds of people outside the church I used to attend. Though it was beside a collapsed church, a pile of rubble, they were singing and praying and sharing communion. So, as I see it, the faith is still very strong there. It's deeply humbling to see people's faith staying strong through that.
I would have expected more questions and protests. There is some of that, but amongst the people I interact with, I don't see as much of the questioning or crying out that I would expect to see here in the United States.
What is the spiritual condition of other ministers like you? It must be difficult to bear up under it all.
I can't say I've spoken with many of the other missionaries and development workers, but it does seem that part of my experience and the experience of other people I've spoken to, is this: There's a grief that is overwhelming. And so many conversations are so heavy, because so many people have lost family and friends. But for those of us who are able, we just put our heads down and work as hard as we can.
There are surges of grief. But there is so much work to be done as well. Perhaps that's a part of the healing, or part of the escape that one needs. You just put your head down and work as hard as you can.
What should every Christian in the United States know about what's happening in Haiti? What would you want the church in America to know?
This theme that I saw in Haiti while I was living there, as well as during these last five weeks, that I'm constantly humbled by, is people's response of gratitude. Which is something like worship, or what worship should be: pure thankfulness to God.