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Last weekend, I participated in the 92nd Council of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, where I did a presentation on Haïti and how we can be involved in partnerships there.

The joy of learning in Haiti

At the presentation, I showed a movie I have made, Bondye di ou: Fè pa ou, m’a fè p’am (“God says to you: You do your part, I’ll do mine). It is a 12-minute video on the history of the Diocese of Haïti, and how that Diocese is leading the way in helping the nation recover from the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010. It also describes the ways in which parishes, other institutions and organizations can become partners with the Diocese of Haïti, the largest diocese of The Episcopal Church.

The video is available for free for anyone who is interested in seeing it or using it themselves. Simply go to

http://gallery.me.com/merelaurens/100031

and you can see it, and if you want, you can download it and make DVD copies of your own.

Haiti video

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Leaps of faith

Luke 16:19-31

I am a rich person.

I know this because I looked it up on globalrichlist.com, where I entered my income from last year and discovered that I rank in the top 13.74 percent of the wealthiest people in the world.[1]

U.N. wealth-per-capita chart

According to this web site, I am the 824,785,999th richest person in the world, this out of the approximately 6.8 billion people now living.

That is an amazing ranking, isn’t it? I was astonished when I found out how rich I am, when compared to the rest of the world.

At the same time, I also am a poor person.

I know this because I looked in the Census Bureau’s Poverty Report that was released a few weeks ago.

According to that report, I am incredibly poor.  I am so poor that I inhabit, according to the Census Bureau, something called the “poverty universe,” along with more than 40 million other Americans.

One report says I am rich. The other says I am poor.

Let me clear this up for you a bit: For the last five years, I have been an Appointed Missionary of The Episcopal Church. I served for four years in the Diocese of Renk of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, and for about one year in the Diocese of Haiti. During that time, I was paid, by The Episcopal Church, $6,000 per year.  $500 per month. I raised money during that time to help support me, so for both of those reports I consulted, I raised my income to $8,000 last year.

On a worldwide scale, I am rich.

In the “poverty universe,” I am poor.

Census Bureau Poverty Index

Somehow, I have managed to span the great chasm between rich and poor, the chasm of which Jesus speaks as he tells the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke’s Gospel.

The story he tells is not a new one. It is, in fact, much older than Jesus himself, coming out of the Egyptian tradition. But regardless of its age and provenance, the story Jesus tells is an important one, not just for the disciples and Pharisees who are listening then, but to us now.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: Jesus – God – has no problem with wealth. We know that because the Bible tells us so. In this very story, Lazarus, the poor man who had been abandoned outside the gates of the unnamed rich man, is sitting next to Abraham, the patriarch of the people of Israel and indeed of the three great faiths of the world. Abraham was a very wealthy man, far beyond simply being rich. He had land, animals, money … By reading that Lazarus, a poor man in such bad shape that he was covered in nasty sores, so weak that he was licked by dogs (that most despised of animals), simply by reading that Lazarus is sitting in paradise next to Abraham, we know that wealth in and of itself is not a bad thing in God’s eyes. By hearing Abraham tell the rich man, “Sorry, you’re out of luck, Lazarus can’t help you,” we know that in God’s eyes, Abraham the wealthy man is also Abraham the exalted man.

So wealth is not the problem that Jesus is highlighting in this story.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

What Jesus is focusing on is the great chasm between wealth and poverty, between those who have, and those who do not have.

For it is that chasm that gets in the way of God’s will being done in God’s very good creation.

I know a lot about this chasm. I knew a lot about this chasm before I went online and found out that I am simultaneously rich and poor. In my time as a missionary, I have lived among some of the poorest people on earth. I have seen the poverty, and I know what it is like to be on the wrong side of the chasm.

In South Sudan, I lived in a mud hut, with no running water, very little electricity, lots of disease, limited food to eat. And I lived a life of privilege in Sudan, compared to the average person, who lived in a hut made of grass, who had no electricity ever, no clean water and no way to clean the water she had, frequently far too little to eat and no way to make enough money to ensure her children could grow up healthy and strong. I once had to explain to some U.S. government officials who wanted to learn what life was like in South Sudan that, no, there really was no functioning economy there, that most people were poor beyond belief, that there was never enough of anything, and no hope of getting any more. The Americans simply shook their heads in disbelief.

In Haiti, I lived in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The area in which I lived was surrounded by terrible slums, where people had very little, and even less hope of getting any more, while at the same time they were surrounded by people of wealth. Compared to my life in Sudan, my life in Haiti was full of riches. But when my colleagues saw where I lived, and how I lived, they could only shake their heads and ask me why. Why didn’t I have electricity all the time? Why did I haul water up three flights of stairs? Where was my air conditioner? My TV? (Hint: No electricity, no AC, no TV.)

So I know something, quite a bit, actually, about the poverty that Jesus is attacking in this story we call “The Rich Man and Lazarus” but which one commentator says more accurately should be called “The-Indifferent-Man-Who-Could-Have-Listened-to-Moses-and-the-Prophets-and-Followed-God’s-Way-of-Life-and-Been-Welcomed-Into-Paradise-by-Father-Abraham-But-Chose-Not-To and Lazarus.”[2]

The rich man, who is given no name in this story, knew what he was supposed to do. The Torah, the Five Books of Moses, told him: Care for the poor, the sick, the widows and the children. Leviticus says to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Deuteronomy says to love your neighbor as yourself. You cannot do the former if you do not do the latter. The Prophets who came after Moses said the same thing. Micah asks, “What does the Lord require of you, o mortal, but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) Proverbs say that “If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13) Isaiah quotes God thundering, “What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” (Isaiah 3:15) followed by a promise from God to never forsake them. (Isaiah 41:17) Jeremiah laments: “For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.” (Jer. 8:21), then asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why has the health of my poor people not been restored?” (Jer. 8:22) Ezekiel proclaims: “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” (Ezek. 16:49)

Moses and the Prophets continuously spread God’s word: We are to care for the very least among us.

In telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus continues in that same prophetic vein:

You see someone in need, you help him.

You feed the hungry. Give water to the thirsty. Make the lame leap for joy, the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak. Visit the sick and those in prison. Clothe the naked.

Lord knows – and it is true, God truly does know – that there is a great chasm in this world between the rich and the poor, between the have’s and the have-nots. You and I know it, you and I have seen it, some of you and I have lived in it.

But just because it exists does not mean we can’t do something about it.

Rich or poor – or both, if you are like me – we can cross that chasm – in this life – and we can do something about it, if we so desire. In this country alone, more than 44 million of us inhabit what the Census Bureau now calls the poverty universe. More than 85 percent of the world inhabits that same universe.

Is that what we want?

Is that what God wants?

The real question we have to ask ourselves this morning is this:

Are we willing to cross that chasm ourselves?

The only way to answer that question is to figure out what exists in our lives that keeps that chasm there, and keeps us from crossing it. We may not want to cross it because the poor are too much like Lazarus, covered in ugly sores, so weak that the dogs – the dogs – are able to lick his wounds without hindrance.

We may not want to cross the chasm because to do so would mean leaving our comfort zones, and we are afraid.

We may not want to cross the chasm because we may feel, in our deepest secret places, that sometimes, the poor deserve what they have, or rather, what they don’t have. We may feel that far too many of the poor are poor simply because they refuse to work.

(But know this: In this story that Jesus tells, Lazarus is so far gone that he didn’t go to the rich man on his own to beg. He was placed there because he was so far gone that the people who put him there knew the rich man was his last hope. So in this telling, Jesus is quite clear that he is not talking about people who refuse to work; he is talking about people who cannot help themselves.)

Whatever reasons we may have for not wanting to cross the chasm, we have so many more for doing so.

It doesn’t take much to become poor; we all know that. The economy in this country and around the world went from riding high to sinking like a lead balloon almost in the blink of an eye. We all know someone – and generally more than one someone – who lost their jobs, and then their savings, then their homes. Going from being a rich person to poor, which is so often outside our control, is frighteningly easy. In other words, one very personal reason for crossing the chasm is that because we could have been, and still might be, the ones on the far side, the ones who need help.

We know, too, that while there is nothing wrong with being rich – however you define that term – there is something wrong, in God’s eyes, with not using our wealth to help others in need. We may not be in a position to join Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and all those other billionaires who are giving away half their fortunes, but surely we are able to give something to those who have less.

And we may not be the ones who are called to work directly with the poor. Our call may be to use our wealth – however big or small – to help others help the poor. There is nothing wrong with that – each of us has different gifts, and some people’s gift is to fund the work of others.

Whatever our gifts are, the important question we always have to consider is this: Do we want to cross the chasm?

Because that surely is what Jesus is calling us to do today.

To make the leap of faith and cross the chasm.

Are we willing?

Amen.

A sermon preached on the  18th Sunday after Pentecost, 26 September 2010, Proper 21 Year C, at Christ Church, Millwood. 


[1] cf www.globalrichlist.com

[2] The Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, “Paying Attention,” on David Ewart’s www.holytextures.com,

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‘You have already had your Good Friday,’ Jefferts Schori tells Duracin

By Mary Frances Schjonberg, February 08, 2010

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[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori paid a poignant visit to Port-au-Prince Feb. 8 to survey with Episcopal Diocese of Haiti Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin the devastation wrought by the Jan. 12 magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

After climbing over the ruins of the diocese’s Cathédrale Sainte Trinité (Holy Trinity Cathedral), the presiding bishop turned to Duracin and said “You should skip Lent this year; you have already had your Good Friday.”

“Yes, we can all sing Alleluias together,” Duracin replied, according to the Rev. Lauren Stanley, who accompanied Jefferts Schori on her five-hour visit.

Pointing to some of the cathedral’s 13 bells that were visible among the ruins and that appeared to be salvageable, Jefferts Schori said “they will ring again” and that the cathedral “will rise again,” according to Stanley.

While at the cathedral, Jefferts Schori and Duracin said prayers at what the Haitian bishop is calling the diocese’s “open-air cathedral,” which consists of some plastic sheeting stretched over a frame of two-by-fours that shelters some pews rescued from the cathedral ruins.

The two bishops each prayed aloud with those who happened to be at the site. Some of the older women members of the cathedral were combing the ruins for pieces of the building’s world-famous murals depicting biblical stories in Haitian motifs. The gathered congregation also sang “How Great Thou Art” in French, Stanley said.

During the visit, Stanley said, Duracin asked her to “tell the world that physically the church is broken, but the church is still there in faith. Our faith is still strong.”

She said the bishop asked for the support of Episcopalians everywhere to help Haitians rebuild the structures of the church because that work “will have a positive impact on our faith. It will bring us courage, confidence and a good future.”

“We are approaching Lent,” Stanley quoted Duracin as saying. “I ask people to be with us in the desert so that on Easter, all of us in Haiti and all the Episcopal Church may sing together in joy: ‘Alleluia, Alleluia, the Lord is risen indeed.'”

The trip was also meant for Jefferts Schori and Duracin to talk about the immediate and future directions of the diocese. The presiding bishop assured Duracin that the entire Episcopal Church stood with his diocese in prayer and support, and would continue to do so, according to Stanley.

Stanley is one of four Episcopal Church missionaries assigned to Haiti and the only one who was not in-country at the time of the Jan. 12 quake. Duracin has asked Stanley to help the diocese coordinate offers of relief and recovery made by others in the Episcopal Church, and to tell the diocese’s story.

Stanley said part of the discussion in Port-au-Prince centered on how she can continue to assist Duracin and the diocese by splitting her time between Haiti and the U.S. As part of that work, she will begin to help coordinate the work of Episcopalians elsewhere in the church who have interests in or connections with specific places and ministries in Haiti, she said.

Stanley said she was gratified to hear Duracin’s confidence in her ability to help the diocese connect more strongly with “our partners who are working together to help God’s beloved children in Haiti.”

Stanley, who spoke with ENS by phone from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, after the visit, said that Duracin wanted the presiding bishop to see the extent of the devastation the diocese suffered. While the full extent of damage is still being assessed, it is clear that most of the diocese’s churches and schools were destroyed or heavily damaged. The convent of the Sisters of St. Margaret, adjacent to the cathedral, was also destroyed.

The lost schools include the Holy Trinity complex of primary, music and trade schools next to the demolished diocesan cathedral, the university and the seminary. A portion of the St. Vincent School for Handicapped Children, also in the Haitian capital, collapsed. Students and possibly staff were killed at some of the schools.

Stanley said that Duracin, Jefferts Schori and she visited the Holy Trinity school complex, the Episcopal University and the survivors’ camp on a rocky field at College Ste. Pierre, a diocesan school destroyed by the quake. (The diocese, known locally as L’Eglise Episcopale d’Haiti, is caring for about 25,000 Haitians in roughly 20 makeshift camps around the country. Since the quake, many people have left the capital for the countryside.)

The three also surveyed Duracin’s home which collapsed in the quake, trapping and severely injuring his wife, Marie-Edithe. Duracin has told ENS that he is been spending his night sleeping in a tent outside another home that he was having built for his family.

The Rev. Kesner Ajax, head of the diocese’s Bishop Tharp Institute of Business and Technology (BTI) in Les Cayes, drove the three around the city. Everywhere they where they saw evidence of destruction and death, Stanley said.

The Holy Trinity music school once housed the country’s only concert hall, but now “you can see where it came smashing straight down and there are still bodies of our students in there as well,” Stanley said.

Duracin told them that “this is why we cannot just use a bulldozer” to clear the wreckage.

There is a common grave just outside of the Episcopal University and Stanley said they stopped to pray at that grave. One of the lower level classrooms that was destroyed usually had more than 100 students in it, she said, but only nine bodies have been found. People are going through the rubble by hand searching for the dead.

On the street outside the university, there is an outdoor holding cell for prisoners, Stanley said.

At the diocesan trade school, only the façade is still standing, Stanley said.

“There nothing left except bodies,” she said. “We could actually see one body at the ruins.”

Stanley said: “It was heart-wrenching to see the city that I love — to see the things that this church has done for so many years that makes me so proud to be an Episcopalian in Haiti — totally gone,” Stanley said. “It is beyond heart-breaking. I don’t have adequate words to describe the devastation.”

Jefferts Schori flew to Santo Domingo on Feb. 7 from Havana, Cuba, after being a co-consecrator at the Rev. Griselda Delgado Del Carpio’s consecration and ordination as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Church of Cuba. She and Stanley, who met her in the Dominican Republic capital, flew into Port-au-Prince the next day for the visit.

They brought with them a number of gifts and supplies for Duracin and the diocese, including six episcopal clergy shirts for the bishop that were a gift from the Church Pension Group, three liturgical stoles and 3,000 communion wafers from the presiding bishop, and pants and socks for Duracin and a bottle of Taylor tawny port communion wine from Stanley.

She also gave the bishop an alb and cincture that was purchased by Rhonda Busch, an administrator at Church of the Good Shepherd in Burke, Virginia. The church, where Stanley was priested and which still supports her missionary work, offered a requiem mass Feb. 4 for the victims of the earthquake who were members of the Church of St. James the Just in Pétionville, Haiti. Stanley serves the English-speaking congregation there.

“In our culture it is very important that the leader look like a leader,” Stanley said. “In the church in Haiti, it’s very important that the bishop look like the bishop because when he is properly dressed and properly vested then we know that he can take care of us and we know that we have not been forgotten.”

Duracin told Stanley that the bread and wine will be used Feb. 12 during the Episcopal Church’s part of the nationwide prayer services planned to mark the one month anniversary of the earthquake.

Stanley also brought with her a nearly 150-year-old brass cross that had once been part of a processional cross used by missionaries. She was given the cross by the Woodson family of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, whose members attend St. Paul’s Episcopal Church there. While looking through the rubble at College Ste. Pierre, Stanley said, the presiding bishop found a staff that might have been a short processional cross or a verger’s wand and which the three discovered fit the cross perfectly.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and editor of Episcopal News Monthly.


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God says to YOU

My sermon on Haiti, preached the Third Sunday after the Epiphany at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Hot Springs, Va. I have preached here many times on Sudan and this parishes partnership with the Renk Theological College.

Au nom de Dieu unique, Pere, Fils, et Sainte Esprit. In the name of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, on behalf of the Bishop of the Diocese of Haiti, the Right Reverend Jean Zache Duracin, on behalf of the people of the Diocese of Haiti, and on behalf of the people of Haiti, I say to you this morning, Mesi anpil.  Thank you very much.

It has been twelve days since a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti and devastated our land and our people; it has been 12 days without food and water and proper medical care; it has been 12 days in which we have buried as much as 100,000 people, we now believe that over 250,000 will be eventually be declared dead, but we will never know.

The Church in Haiti has been devastated.  The Roman Catholic Archbishop was killed trying to escape from the Cathedral of Notre Dame; the assistant bishop was killed.  The Diocese of Haiti, your sister diocese, a full member of the Episcopal Church in Province II, the largest diocese of the Episcopal Church of over 200,000 members, has been devastated.  Our cathedral is gone.  Our senior secondary school, College St. Pierre, is gone.  The Holy Trinity Music School, which houses the national symphony orchestra and has the only concert hall in the country, is gone.  Holy Trinity Primary School is gone.  The University of the Episcopal Church of  Haiti is gone.  The Musee d’Art, the only museum of art in Haiti, which is run by the Episcopal Church, is gone.  To the best of our knowledge, 100 of our 254 schools are gone.  We know of several of our churches out in the provinces that are gone.

But I can tell you today, having spoken with Bishop Duracin yesterday, we are still a strong diocese.  We are still a strong people, because we have the people of God.  Bishop Duracin was offered the chance to be evacuated either to another city in Haiti or to a city in the United States, and he told me, “No, I will stay with my people.”  In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake he set up the refugee camp on the soccer field, which is nothing more than a sandlot between the College Saint Pierre and the seminary which is totally damaged and is probably gone, and within two days he had 3,000 people under his care.  The Saint Vincent Center for the Handicapped, where indeed the Scriptures were fulfilled in your hearing every single moment of every single day, is gone.  The majority of our 170 children were rescued and have been in the refugee camp and will be moved soon to safer quarters.

Paul tells us in his letter today that when one member of the Body suffers, we all suffer.  And I can tell you that a portion of your body, of our body, is suffering right now.  Haiti has been a nation of suffering since 1492 when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and landed in what is now Les Cayes.  From the moment that Westerners arrived in this land, the people have been abused, they have been used.  The native Haitians are now gone, many of whom decided to die rather than to submit.  Our own leaders in Haiti have abused us, and used us, and oppressed us.  But in the last few years, with the help of the Western world, particularly the United States, Haiti has been making great strides forward.  Our government is stable, our people are beginning to be cared for; we actually raised the minimum wage in Haiti from $2 a day to $3.50 a day, which doesn’t sound like much to you, but take your wages and raise them by that proportion and tell me you’re not happy with that pay raise.  We were beginning to make progress and then in August and September of 2008 four hurricanes struck within three weeks, and so we had to take a major step back.  We were beginning to make real progress recovering from those four hurricanes in 2008 when the earthquake struck, the largest earthquake in more than 200 years.  Most of us in Haiti had no idea that we sat on a major fault line.  We did not know that there could be earthquakes.  Our land  is devastated.  Our government is devastated.  Our people are suffering.  And these people are your people.

I’ve told you this before when I’ve spoken to you about your Sudanese brothers and sisters in Christ, and what I’ve told you about them I tell you exactly the same about your brothers and sisters in Christ in Haiti:  they are related to you not by their blood of their birth but by the waters of their baptism.  They are members of the Body of Christ and those people are hurting.  And we are asking for your help.  Because the Scriptures tell us that when one member of the Body suffers, the whole body suffers.  This is not a remote thing that happened to strangers far away; this is a disaster that has happened in your own body, and we know that you feel our pain.  We have seen the outpouring of support.  We have received your words and your prayers, and we are immensely grateful; and Bishop Duracin has instructed me to say to you over and over again, mesi anpil.  Thank you very much.

I want to tell you a little bit about this diocese about which so few people know.  I want to tell you how the Scriptures have been fulfilled in you sight and in your hearing.  I want you to tell you about we have done in the past because I want you to know:  We will do this in the future.  The blind do see in the Diocese of Haiti because we are the ones who run the Saint Vincent Center, the only full school for the handicapped.  We teach them to read in Braille.  So in our cathedral, which is no more, at every festal service at which the bishop is present, one of the many girls would come over from St. Vincent’s and she would stand in front of us with the reading in front of her, and she would run her fingers across the Scriptures and proclaim the Word of God.  The blind were made to see.

The lame were made to leap with joy because at that particular school we are the ones who made the prosthetics; and not only did we make the prosthetics for those who need them, we matched them to the color of the skin of the person who is getting it.  And let me tell you, that is not the norm in the Third World; most of the prosthetics in the Third World come from the First World where the majority of the people are white.  Can you imagine being black and losing your leg and being given a white leg to replace it?  Not in Haiti.  We will match to the color of your skin and you will leap with joy and I have witnessed it.  And I can tell you right now that many of our handicapped people, children and adults, are sitting in that tent field that Bishop Duracin set up, and they do not have their prosthetics with them because they were destroyed in the earthquake.

We made the mute to sing with joy by teaching them music at our music school where we have the finest, the finest musicians in the country.  We allow the deaf to hear by teaching them sign language in French and Creole.  We have been fulfilling the Scriptures in Haiti for 150 years, since the founding of the Diocese.

Right now, we have nothing left.  Bishop Duracin has publicly proclaimed, “I have lost everything.  I have nothing left.”  When he says “I have lost everything,” he is telling you his house is gone, his office is gone, his car is gone.  But when he is telling you there is nothing left he is not talking about his personal belongings, he is talking about his diocese, about everything that for the past 16 years under his leadership and for the 20 years prior to that as a priest of the diocese that he helped build up.  Everything in his diocese is gone.  But we have the most important asset: We have the people of God..  The people of God in Haiti are strong.

We have an expression in Haitian Creole, and it is not the official motto of the Church but by God it should be: “Bondye di ou: Fe pa ou; m’a fe pa’m: God says to you, ‘you do your part, I will do mine.’” In Haiti for 150 years the people in Haiti have done their part.  They have always trusted God and God has always done his part and right now God will continue to do so because God promised it, and the people of Haiti know that.

Just as we believe in that in Haiti, I say to you now, “Bondye di ou: Fe pa ou; m’a fe pa’m: God is saying to you, ‘you do your part, and I will do mine.’”  And your part, because this is your body, is first to pray, because Jesus said first to pray, and pray always, and Jesus promised to answer our prayers.  And second, to pay attention.  Americans, who are the most generous people in the world–statistically I can prove that to you–tend to have short attention spans.  Already Haiti has moved off the front pages of many newspapers and newscasts.  Please don’t forget your brothers and sisters in Christ; please don’t forget your kin.  We need the abundance of your hearts.  We didn’t have a whole lot before the earthquake struck, and we don’t have anything left now.  Please give generously.  I know that if all you can afford is a dollar and all you give us is a dollar, that dollar means the world to us because as you give a dollar and you give a dollar and you give a dollar and we put it together as the Body of Christ, we will indeed be able to do what God is calling us to do, to do our part.  And when the time comes–please God, do not come now, Bishop has said do not come–but when the time comes we will need the skill of your hands and the strength of your backs and the sweat of your brows to rebuild so that our people do not have to live in tents during hurricane season and do not have to drink water out of the street and eat food that God knows when that animal was killed.  We need you to do our part.  We need you to realize that we are doing ours.

I want to put this tragedy into perspective because it doesn’t quite resonate otherwise.  Haiti is a nation of 10 million people.  One third of them live in Port au Prince and the area that was affected at the epicenter: that’s 3 million people.  If this were to happen in the United States, that would mean that proportionately 105 million Americans would have been at the epicenter.  As of yesterday we have buried approximately 72,000 people, the majority of whom we do not know their names.  If this were in the United States that would equal 2.25 million Americans buried without name.  On top of that, to make this come home to you, destroy the federal government, destroy the state government, destroy the county government, destroy the city government.  That is what happened in Haiti.

There is no word in any language that describes this adequately.  The portion of the Body that is suffering in Haiti is suffering terribly.  We know, and we have faith, that the rest of the Body of Christ will be right there with us, that you feel our pain, and that you will help to alleviate it.  God says to all of us, “Do your part, and I will do mine.”  And when we are faithful to that, my brothers and sisters in Christ, when we are faithful and do our part, then indeed, the Scriptures are fulfilled in our sight and in our hearing on this day.  Amen.

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