Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Bound for Canaan Land"

Some of you who are a bit older may recognize the title to the spiritual "Bound for Canaan Land." Yesterday, we spent the day visiting different sites and the first was a trip to an area outside of Port au Prince called "Canaan." Now, aside from the obvious reference to the biblical Land of Canaan, this land is a place where many displaced people have been moved into temporary shelters (T-shelters). If you see pictures of this place, you will notice the many tents and T-shelters that cover the landscape.

One of the other things about Canaan is that it had almost no people living there before the earthquake but now houses an estimated 200-300,000 people (some with whom we spoke estimate many more). These people have little to nothing already, though some are highly educated. Here we see Haiti as the great land of contrasts—some people have much and some have absolutely nothing. Many of the people living in Canaan have nothing but some may haave good jobs (such as working in a bank) but have no house so they live amongst people with nothing.

If you see pictures of the area, you will also notice that Canaan has no trees. This is likely due to people turning them into charcoal for fuel (they dig a ditch next to the tree, light the tree on fire, and then push the burning tree into the ditch, covering it so it turns into charcoal). As a result of no trees and very little other vegitation, strong winds come down from the mountain and have nothing to stand in their way. The residents of this place suffer from these strong winds and the damage it does to their property continually.

However, even in the midst of this barren land, there is a light among the people. A church has been planted in Canaan, pastored by a young man who felt called to this place and its people. Pastor Berthone (pronounced ber-toe-nee) has been a teacher in the school overseen by Pastor Riccardo's ministry at 2nd Patmos Baptist. The people at Pastor Riccardo's church were very sad to see Pastor Berthone leave (he was a beloved language teacher at the K-12 school), but they assented to his move once they heard his heart and the heart of the other church leaders to serve these people.

Now, as I mentioned, Canaan is a place with strong winds. What once began as a 40' x 60' tent has become, after numerous windstorms that damaged the tent poles and fabric, a tent that is around 24' x 30'. However, the people are determined and the Gospel is being proclaimed in this area. Some of the men within this church are capable leaders who simply need more training to serve their church well.

We have yet to determine what our team will do when we return in July but all of us felt a strong attraction to this place and a desire to serve the people of Canaan. Perhaps this is the primary reason why we are to come. We remain open to God's leading as we plan for July but feel that our assistance may be most needed among this community with the least.

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