Thursday, March 04, 2010

Pressing on for Haiti's Orphans

There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me” (1 Corinthians 16:9, NLT).

With earthquakes hitting Chile, Japan, Argentina, Taiwan . . . it’s easy to forget Haiti. But Haiti’s plight remains perilous. Not that God isn’t doing miracles—He is! People have been pulled from the rubble miraculously alive after days of water and food deprivation. Children are singing God’s praises (especially in places like Maison-de-Lumière and other Christ-centered children’s homes). Relief volunteers have arrived a-plenty. Yet, there are roadblocks. The orphanages are so jam-packed, orphans line up outside. Many struggle to survive in the streets and vulnerable prey to rapist.

The situation is further complicated because, in spite of an outpouring of funds into Haiti, relief supplies are being held up at the border (as the prohibiting orphans who were granted humanitarian parole the right to leave and join their waiting forever families wasn’t bad enough!). This due to . . . wait for it . . . the Haitian government’s exorbitant demands for taxes on these gifts sent to save their people.

This kind of ironic exploitation is not new. What is new is its magnitude and the lessons this chaos continues to teach us. Reaching children is spiritual warfare. We cannot reach them effectively in our own strength. We must invite God to be with us (which means we must be willing to move with Him at the steering wheel not our own plans). That’s why, in all our endeavors to help Haiti—or Chile or anywhere for that matter—those who take on the task of praying are as important as those who raise funds and those who go. Maybe even more so since they open the way!
Prayer reminds us that God alone must be our strength. He makes it possible for us to press forward praying, advocating, giving . . . to reach more children in the name of Jesus. Thanks to consistent prayer support and financial partnership, Orphans First is doing just that. We have also joined the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT) because there is wisdom in partnering with like-minded people.

HORT initiatives aim to connect Haitian churches helping orphans with USA churches that can come alongside them—particularly in prayer.

As we seek to liaise churches in Haiti with churches in the USA, one of the biggest battles we will surely face is corruption. Sadly Haiti—like all third-world countries—reeks of corruption. We saw this in the case of the ten incarcerated Baptists whose lawyer demanded excessive money with promises for their quick release. I have also had my own share of such experiences as founding director of Orphans First. Amazing how many people claim to be helping orphans when they think there might be money to gain. Seen it again and again.

During a trip to Africa last year, a friend asked me to check out an orphanage her ministry was funding in Ghana. Delighted to help, we stopped by en route to Togo. We didn’t tell the “pastor” running the orphanage that we knew he received thousands of dollars every month or that we knew the people providing the money. He told us they needed funds, and had orphans in other parts of the country etc. I’ll spare the details, but let’s sum it up in one word: fraudulence!

Happily today someone trustworthy runs that orphanage. But the moral of the story remains. We need discernment. May God give us discernment to do the work He has set before us. And let’s not take forget Haiti where there are still thousands and thousands of orphans and hurting children needing protection and provision.

Janey L. DeMeo M.A.
Copyright © March 2010

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