Haiti: Earthquake and Beyond

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I've just completed two very intense weeks as chair of the Haiti Event Response Team.  Our job was to monitor the situation and determine if security conditions allowed for our missionaries to remain in Haiti.  That job is finished now that aid is begining to flow into Haiti and there are sufficient security forces on the ground there.  However, as I wrote to one of our missionaries, "Our job is done, but yours is just beginning."  Over the months and years to come there will be lots of work for our Haiti team, which is called Sous Espwa (Source of Hope).  They will continue to point to Jesus as the one source of Hope for Haiti.  A lot of aid has been poured into Haiti over the years.  It seems like, once the immediate relief needs are met, this is a good time to reconsider how North Americans can best contribute to Haiti in Jesus' name.  What are your thoughts on how that ought to be different in the future than it has been in the past?

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I think that CRWRC's asset based approach is an excellent model. Instead of going into a community and asking "what do you need?" or, worse yet, decide for themselves what a community needs from a North American perspective, they work through churches to help a community develop a vision for a preferred future. Then they work with the community to develop a plan on how to get there. That plan may include outside help (such as funding for agriculture projects or literacy classes), but is not dependent on it. This is a much more respectful and stewardly way of approaching not only disaster recovery but community development in general.

One of my hopes is that there will be a more unified effort from the CRCNA in regards to Haiti. As congregations gain appreciation for the excellent work being done through the CRCNA agencies in Haiti, they will be motivated to join and support those efforts, instead of going it on their own or dispersing the efforts in a myriad of other channels. There are so many Christian as well as non-evangelical programs in Haiti, most of them doing good work. But as a denomination, I think we should focus our efforts, like a sports team unifies for a common goal, or like an army that focuses on one goal. On a baseball team, for example, each player fulfills his role in his own position and during his turn at bat, and has to concentrate on doing his own job well. But each one has to do that a part of a team. Imagine if the pitcher decided to start throwing the ball into the outfield! Or if each batter only tried to hit home runs? (hmm, that does seem to happen sometimes). There is also a principle in warfare, in which the maximum available force is brought to bear on one objective if an attack is to be successful, and every good general knows not to disperse forces too much or squander them in small operations.
So it should be in our denomination: instead of many dispersed and diluted efforts by individuals and congregations, the best way for us to approach Haiti now is with the whole denomination, including all individuals and congregations, pulling together in support of our denominational agencies that are already there and doing a great job. So I mean to say that nobody should do anything else? No, but that the primary efforts be made in unison.
Steve Brauning
Christian Reformed World Missions
Dominican Republic

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