It is stiflingly hot as I write this from my bedroom, which means I must be in Haiti and it must be about to rain. I flew back to the island on Monday choosing to go through the Dominican Republic this time (half as expensive) and stay the night in Santiago with some missionary friends of mine I knew from my high school years. I took the bus over to Cap-Haitien the next day.
While riding over, I was reminded of the last time I drove from the D.R. to Haiti, after a Christmas vacation about ten years ago. I was simply amazed at how much had changed in the meantime: The bridge across the river separating the two countries, once a crowded one-lane affair, has been replaced by a much nicer, wider span. The immigration office on the Haitian side, which used to be one policeman with a desk and a pistol is now staffed by three efficient, professional border agents. The highway from the border to the city, which used to be unpaved with huge ruts, is now paved the entire way without interruption. Halfway to Cap-Haitien, a new university rises from the arid landscape and gleams in the sunlight. Where once there were only huts made of packed mud, there is now a huge housing project painted bright pastel colors, ready to house new workers for the brand-new industrial park just up the road. At a busy intersection known as Carrefour la Mort (Death Crossing), a freshly painted Baptist hospital, replete with a center for helping paralyzed children maximize their lives, now occupies a lot that ten years ago was mostly grazing land for cattle. Outside of Cap-Haitien, the international airport, whose plywood terminal was burned down in the coup ten years ago, prepared to receive daily flights from American Airlines in October. Ten years ago, my heart broke as I compared burned-out, broken-down Haiti to its wealthier next-door neighbor. On Tuesday, although far from naive about the challenges that still lie before Haiti, my heart began to pulsate with hope.
My hope for Haiti is not based on external signs of progress. It is based on the promises of God. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…I will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14) There have been so many Christians praying for Haiti for so long that this cannot be a prayer that will go unanswered. Several years ago, in our church, a brother from Trinidad prophesied that the Lord would turn Haiti into the “breadbasket of the Caribbean.” I have believed since the earthquake that the Lord was going to restore Haiti, which had gone about as low as any country could go, back to good health. Over the last decade, my family has seen a coup, a kidnapping, and a quake. I think we are about to witness a comeback. This will be the Lord’s doing, and it will be “marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:23) I love Haiti. It’s my home — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m happy to be here, and I can’t wait to sow into the leaders of the future this year; if you listen carefully, in the distance it sounds like rain.