This year was 10 years since the earthquake in Port au Prince and maybe there is something more poignant about it being ten years but this year felt different.
Ten years feels like it should be enough time do have dealt with what happened, enough time to recover from such a huge disaster but let me tell you for many, it is not. If anything it felt like this anniversary may have been more difficult than others and it caught me totally off guard.
We went to church on Sunday morning and the sermon was based on 12th January. Life is fragile, Pastor Guenson said and suddenly overwhelming memories of being in Haiti in 2010 started flooding into my mind.
I was not in port au Prince on 12th January 2010, I was in Greenwood Indiana watching the scenes unfolding. But three weeks later when there were still reports of people being pulled out from the rubble, alive, I left Indiana for Haiti. The next day I spent on the back of a truck with supplies and a team from the USA, taking the 9 hour journey down to Port au Prince to help with a mobile medical clinic in an area of Port called Diquini.
I remember the smell as we entered the city, I remember seeing the little 'tents' which were really just bedsheets everywhere. Everyone was sleeping in the streets too scared to be indoors especially with aftershocks still happening.
The destruction was strange, one building completely intact, the one next door completely destroyed. In the centre of town many of the government buildings were destroyed and there were official papers all over the ground. I spent about 10 days there (I think) and we saw hundreds of patients. Many people who were injured were being treated at hospitals all over the country as well as the US comfort. We were seeing a lot of cuts and minor injuries but the big thing everyone was complaining of was they were not able to eat, not able to sleep and was having respiratory problems because of the dust. I traveled back again to the same place twice over the next year not expecting the situation to be the same but it was.
I remember walking from one end of the tent to the other and being stopped over and over again and asked to pray with people, speaking with people who has been in a situation beyond anything I could comprehend but the Lord gave me the words to say to encourage people.
There are so many other things I could share with you about my time in Haiti in 2010. I saw bones healed which should have never healed. I heard stories from people of how they were trapped for 3 weeks under rubble with a very small drip of water keeping them alive. I saw two healthy babies born in those tents whose mothers had lost limbs and been buried under rubble yet the babies in the womb were unharmed. I saw Joseph stand on two prosthetic legs for the first time. I was with Yveline when she rented her new home in Cap Haitian with a small business after losing her husband, her 2 children and her home in Port au Prince.
I hope I never forget those experiences so I can continue to pray for the names and faces that come to mind when I think of 12th January 2010 and so I can remember how God worked through the most terrible circumstances.
So please take a moment with me to remember. Remember those who lost their families, remember those who lost their friends, remember those who lost their limbs, remember those who lost their homes. Remember those today who are still suffering from the trauma of living through such a huge natural disaster. And as we remember lets pray for Haiti, lets pray for God to be working in Haiti to transform lives and bring people unto himself.
Pastor Guenson finished his sermon with 'Are you ready?'. On 12th January 2010, over 300,000 people lost their lives in less than 30 seconds. None of us know what will happen tomorrow and we need to be ready. God has sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross to take the punishment which we deserve so we can be forgiven and have hope that only Jesus can bring.
So this is what I pray for Haiti, that her people will put their faith and trust in the one who can give hope and assurance of heaven. I pray the same thing for unreached people groups, for Northern Ireland and for my friends who don't yet know Jesus.
Life is fragile and the spiritual needs across the world are urgent so I encourage you to share the gospel to those you come into contact with everyday so they can have the same hope which you do.
Matthew 28 v 19
GO therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.