Kent Annan, co-director of Haiti Partners, first moved to Haiti eight years ago and lived in Darbonne, near the epicenter of last year’s earthquake. This is his prayer on the one-year anniversary of the quake.
We come to you, first, in silence. We mourn those who died a year ago in the earthquake. And we mourn with those who continue to mourn.
We come to you in sadness, too, for the suffering of far, far too many people during this year in Haiti. God, when we think it can’t get any worse, somehow it does. The earthquake, the loss of life and of homes and of buildings, the struggle of recovery, the ravages of cholera, the stalemate of politics. These headlines affect so many girls and boys, fathers and mothers.
We come to you, even so, in gratitude. We’ve seen the courage of so many people in the midst of circumstances no one should ever have to face. We come to you in prayer together with so many in Haiti who have incredibly stayed faithful to you this past year—as they walk from the tent they now live in to worship you next to where their church collapsed.
We come to you asking protection for so many who are in tent camps and other horribly vulnerable situation. We don’t know how to ask you to protect when today there is a litany of those who weren’t protected: The girl or woman who was raped. The child who didn’t get enough food. The spirit of someone who was crushed. Yet what can we do but ask you to protect—even as we must work ourselves to protect .
We come to you asking forgiveness—personally, as a nation, as people of faith, and, really, simply as people. In the past 500 years a lot of sin by a lot of people has seemed to lead to this moment in Haiti. Indigenous people on the island wiped out, and then slavery begun. Then slavery repeated. Let us confess the sin that has come before and also that we could each probably do more to help. Let us be bold in our desire to help, but also humble in knowing our own limits and selfishness.
It’s not that there’s no goodness. There is so much. And it’s not there isn’t also a history of courage and love and generosity. There is. It’s just that the results haven’t yet brought the kind of lives to people that they deserve.
We come asking for boldness of vision and commitment. For wisdom and courage. Most of all strengthen people in Haiti—that they may find the wisdom, breakthroughs, strength, stamina, protection, and all that is demanded of them in their lives and the work ahead.
We come with responsibility to help others, because so many resources are in our hands. But we come not as saviors, but as a broken people, a broken nation. We help as ones also in need of salvation. A congresswoman lies in a hospital fighting for life. A judge lies dead. A nine-year-old girl—nine years old—shot and killed. We come praying for others even as we need prayers ourselves.
We come also with gratitude for so many who have been generous to help people who they will never meet. This generosity that has saved many lives. This generosity that is at once incredible, humbling, stunning, and still not enough.
The systems outside Haiti and in that perpetuate the pain: may you break them or heal them or make them new. Those systems outside Haiti and in that perpetuate the pain: may all who have the power find the courage and the ways and the grace to break them or heal them or make them new.
Together may we boldly, humbly love. May we work for a world that better reflects your goodness. May we be stewards of the gifts you give us, for they’re given that we might serve love and justice.
We come asking for your grace. God, our source of life, we need so much more from you than we seem to get—than Haiti seems to get. We don’t understand why all this happens, and yet we try to move forward in trust. But we do know that you call us to love. We trust that you are with us. We need you with us.
Praying in the name of Jesus, the one who has suffered with us, Amen.
Kent Annan moved to Haiti eight years ago. He lived there for two and a half years and now travels back and forth from Florida as co-director of Haiti Partners. He is author of the new book After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken, about faith and doubt, suffering and hope in wake of Haiti’s earthquake a year ago. He is also author of Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle. Follow him on Twitter @kentannan.
For more resources on After Shock, including a blog conversation on faith and doubt, visit the Patheos Book Club.