Thoughts on Haiti
As you know, this week Haiti was struck with a devastating earthquake, the effects of which we are only beginning to learn. Haiti already was an extremely poor country with many problems, and perhaps the least equipped nation in the world to deal with a disaster of this magnitude. Naturally, people are asking questions as to why this happened and what should we being doing in the wake of the earthquake.
How should we respond?
First, we ought to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). Many have died, many have been orphaned, and many more will suffer because of the shortages of clean water, food, and medical supplies. Rather than pontificating on the mysteries of why these things happen, our first thoughts ought to be compassion, sympathy, and mourning. You can read all about what is happening in Haiti on almost any news site. You might also look here for some pictures which will give you an idea of the magnitude of the destruction.
Second, you can help. At New City we'll be taking a special offering this Sunday to aid the ministry of World Vision - a group that's doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to aid and relief work in Haiti. We will be sending $2500 from our mission budget, and whatever extra individuals elect to contribute on Sunday. In addition Matthew 25 Ministries (http://www.m25m.org) is making collections of basic items. If you feel led to participate, most needed items include: canned and non-perishable food, basic personal care products (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes), cleaning products (hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, paper towels), and first aid supplies. Our mother church, North Cincinnati Community Church, is a distribution center for Matthew 25, and you can drop items off there (http://northcincy.org/). Matthew 25 also will need volunteers to prepare donations for shipping (in Blue Ash). See (http://www.m25m.org) for more information.
You can also help mightily through prayer. Pray for those suffering, those who have lost loved ones, and those who are still in danger. And pray for aid workers as they bring help, and for generosity from others, especially those in the church.
Third, we should repent. Perhaps the best passage that I know to shed light on this situation is Luke 13:1-5. Two tragedies are mentioned here - the killing of many Galileans by Pilate, and the collapse of a tower at Siloam. The disciples ask Jesus, "Why did this happen? Were these people who died worse sinners than others who were spared?"
Notice Jesus' answer. Actually, notice that he really doesn't answer their question directly. Instead he says, "Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you all will likewise perish" (Luke 13:2-3).
Our world suffers under a curse because of Adam's sin (Genesis 3:16-19) and we are all guilty. Tragedies like this should NEVER lead to finger pointing. Instead, they ought to lead us to repent of our sins and cast ourselves on the mercy of God, who in Jesus Christ, offers forgiveness and mercy (John 3:16).
Fourth, we ought to proclaim the gospel. In Mark 1:14-15 we learn that Jesus comes with a message of repentance and faith. And he announces that the kingdom of God is at hand. God's kingdom has broken in with Jesus, and that means everything is different. We now have hope that while we know this world has been thrown off kilter by sin, there will be a day when Jesus will "wipe away every tear" and "make all things new" (Revelation 21:4-5). Tragedy like this leads many to question God, but it also leads many to consider their own mortality, and thus some become open to the gospel. Still others will be moved by the body of Christ as it mobilizes to meet the needs of hurting Haitians through relief work.
Weep. Show compassion by helping, giving, and praying. Repent. And hold high the gospel. That's our calling in times like this.
If you want to read a very well written article by Al Mohler explaining how Christians ought to think through these things, I highly recommend it.