Hearing the News of Earthquake in Haiti
The shock and hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach was unlike any I have felt in years. It was the feeling of receiving news that someone you know and love has been suddenly died.
The news of the earthquake that disrupted an already troubled country, Haiti, felt like a dull blade cutting into my heart. I fell in love with the nation and people of Haiti through a local mission (A Voice in the Wilderness ) that serves Haiti. I’ve met the indigenous minister, Pastor Jerome, who ministers to the Haitians daily. His family, the staff of A Voice in the Wilderness, and volunteers who have visited the small island nation have worked for sixteen years to feed, educate, and share the hope of Jesus Christ. I could not get past thinking and praying for these people who have dedicated to their lives to serving the people of Haiti.
Knowing and Loving People of Haiti
My heart and mind raced as the news of destruction and death in Haiti played out on televised reports.
A sudden jerk at my heart brought yet another realization. I shed tears for those I had only heard of, but there was someone who must be experiencing more anguish and grief than I could imagine. Elizabeth Seese, the strong, spirited Christian founder of A Voice in the Wilderness mission to Haiti came to mind.
Was Elizabeth in Haiti? Was she here, in the states, not knowing any more than the bleak reports pouring in over the news? Either way she must be devastated. Was either of their buildings left standing and more importantly what of the teachers and staff of Good Hope and A Voice in the Wilderness? What was left? Who survived? What about Pastor Jerome and his dear family? These questions and more must have been weighing on Elizabeth Seese heart.
I called Elizabeth immediately. At this point, I doubt she remembers the conversation. It was obvious that she was in shock and experiencing extreme grief. My heart broke anew upon talking to her. She had been on the phone all night and into the morning, when I spoke with her. An administrator had called and made a 20 second connection. During that brief period of time Elizabeth found out that Good Shepherd had caved into a pile of rubble. More overwhelmingly she learned that Pastor Jerome’s two oldest sons had died in the Haiti earthquake.
Her grief was overwhelming and brought me to tears with her. Elizabeth Seese loves the people of Haiti. She is passionate about them, their wellbeing, and their future. She loves Pastor Jerome and his family. Liz’s heart could have been broken no more deeply.
Not Knowing Who Lived and Died in Haiti is Hardest Part
That was only the beginning of an anxious and time consuming wait for more news from Haiti, during which the leadership, staff, partners, friends, and Churches associated with A Voice in the Wilderness prayed.
The day following the quake there was no more contact with Haiti. Elizabeth spent the day like many with loved ones isolated on the island nation calling government and nonprofit organizations trying to get information on her people, missionaries, staff, and students. Everyone wanted information and no one had any. At that point who knew what buildings were standing, who had survived, and who was dead?
Liz expressed particular concern for a staff member, Ricardo, and his wife Gyna. Gyna is pregnant and is due to have a c-section on Monday. It has been a complicated pregnancy. Liz feared for their lives and the life of the unborn child.
I’ve never met missionaries more passionate for Haitians who are so affected by poverty, hunger, disease, lack of water, and unsanitary living conditions. I’ve never met a more humble and loving man than Pastor Jerome, the indigenous pastor of Haiti.
Love couldn’t reach Haiti, but prayer could. Everyone continued to pray.
Good Hope had become the new facility for the desolate and poverty stricken people of Carre four Feuilles when A Voice in the Wilderness outgrew Good Shepherd. There was no news about the condition of Good Hope. Beans, rice, and powdered milk are housed there, if only the building were still standing, and if only there were potable water available with which to cook it could be used to help the people outside of Port au Prince, at Carre four Feuilles.
Finally More News from Haiti
Finally, Friday evening an email hit my inbox with news from Haiti. Elizabeth attached a simple message from Ricardo and Gyna.
“The staff is alive, we are not dead but we lost our house and we have nothing but God gave us life and we thank Him for that.”
My heart soared. You could tell by Elizabeth’s tone her heart was swollen with joy. She was so relieved to finally hear some good news from Haiti. She concluded her email by sharing that she had a one minute phone call, on a bad line, with Ricardo:
“I just received a phone call from Ricardo but the connection was so bad I could not understand what he said….maybe the next phone call will be better….he only had one minute so somebody is allowing calls out…..Praise the Lord or as they said in Haiti………
BENI SOI LE TERNEL”
At this point, Elizabeth reminds everyone that the birth of Ricardo and Gyna’s baby is imminent. We don’t know who will perform the delivery. We praise God to know that they are alive, and we trust God to care for them and the baby.
We learned more good news Friday. Despite the devastation in Port au Prince and Carre four Feuilles, Good Hope ministry compound still stands.
How A Voice in the Wilderness Helps Haiti
Elizabeth Seese and her family have dedicated their life to loving and ministering to the people of Haiti. Good Shepherd was built in Carre four Feuilles, 6 miles west of Port au Prince and 5 miles east of Carre Four where the earthquake hit, from the ground up by A Voice in the Wilderness. For years it served as a school and food kitchen to people in Carre four Feuilles. Good Shepherd was outgrown and a new compound was built to serve the people of Haiti. That is Good Hope, which continues to stand after the Haiti earthquake, a strong and true beacon of hope (See photos).
Approximately 300,000 people live in Carre four Feuilles outside of Port au Prince. They have no means of income and no way to feed their families. From its earliest days A Voice in the Wilderness has fed malnourished children and supplied medical supplies during special medical clinics. They have worked to educate children, because education will empower young Haitians to make good decisions and find ways to be productive, rather than merely survive day-to-day. More important than any of this, the missionaries, staff, teachers, and volunteers at A Voice in the Wilderness have provided hope and security in Jesus Christ in a nation where Voodoo, poverty, and hunger drive many to a viscous life. (For more information on social and living conditions in Haiti visit A Voice in the Wilderness and read information and reports.)
How will A Voice in the Wilderness Continue to Help Haiti?
I wondered, as events unfolded in Haiti, what would become of Voice in the Wilderness? Would they continue to operate a mission, school, and feeding program to the children of Haiti? Then, in my heart, I knew. Just as they had done in the beginning, Elizabeth and her team will continue the ministry in Haiti at any cost.
God has brought them over seemingly insurmountable obstacles before, and He will be faithful to do it again. There will be a mission at Good Hope, and you can bet just as quickly as they can enter the country Elizabeth and husband, Dewain Seese will be on their way to check on their people, the people of Haiti.
The ministers, missionaries, and staff of Voice in the Wilderness have grounded their own faith in Jesus Christ. Because He is their living hope, how can they help but continue to share with the people of Haiti. They will work, rebuild housing, and do whatever is necessary to demonstrate the love of God, feed, and educate the people.
Elizabeth Seese confirmed what I already knew. In an email this morning, she once again bared the heart of the mission and ministry that is crucial for the survival of people in Carre four Feuilles:
“I believe God allowed my building at HOPE to stand and my people to live because we are proclaiming that Jesus is Lord every day. Since we moved to the big new building two years ago Feb. 1st (we had outgrown Good Shepherd) …we had Bible classes including teachers, classrooms and materials.Haitian children were taught lessons, Bible Verses, Praise Songs and how to Prayand served their food for the day…..
I can never Thank our God enough for answering our prayers and allowing the building and staff to remain so that we can continue to teach the lost about Jesus…..
World Missionary Press has provided us with hundreds of thousands of tracts and New Testaments in Haitian Creole and we have some left at HOPE. As soon as I have better communication I will instruct my staff to go into the streets and start passing them out!”
Thank God, thank God for a ministry and a passion like that demonstrated for Haiti by a Voice in the Wilderness for 16 years and going.
How you can help efforts in Haiti
You can help A Voice in the Wilderness by sending the address for this article to your friends. It costs you nothing. Simply cut and paste the url above in an email. I will donate all my earnings from page views to Voice in the Wilderness. (This can be confirmed by contacting Voice in the Wilderness.) The page view has to come through the url above. The more friends with whom you share this article, the more we can do to help continue the Haitian ministry the Lord has placed deeply within the hearts of the pastors and staff of A Voice in the Wilderness. Send this url to a friend, post the url about the Haiti mission in forums and make your local Church family aware.
Associated Content, the company housing this article, will make a donation to a Haiti recovery fund for every 1000 page views through January, as well.
How you can help A Voice in the Wilderness and Good Hope School and Mission in Haiti
There is no cost to you to help raise money for this ministry and aide to Haiti. Get your friends, family, and Church members to THIS article to support A Voice in the Wilderness.
Elizabeth has expressed the greatest need at this point is prayer and more prayer. Second to that is financial help that will go to help the people of Haiti, specifically those outside the city of Port au Prince at Carre four Feuilles. Find out more about how to make a tax-deductible contribution or becoming a partner organization or individual by visiting A Voice in the Wilderness website.
Above all, keep Haiti and those who minister with such love and care to the Haitian people in your prayers.
God bless you, and thank you for reading.