|Republic of Haiti|
Area 27,400 sq.km. Western third of the island of Hispaniola; shared with the Dominican Republic.
One of the most densely populated countries in the Americas. Many Haitians have fled or emigrated to the USA.
Capital Port-au-Prince 1,700,000. Urbanites 37%.
Mulatto (Eurafrican) 9.9%.
Literacy 48%. Functional literacy may be as low as 20%. Official language French (10% speak it). Common language Haitian Creole.
The poorest state in the Western hemisphere, aggravated by over-population, soil erosion, pollution, drought and famine. The imposition of sanctions by the Organization of American States, including the USA, severely crippled the already struggling economy with particularly disastrous effects on the poor. The lack of a viable government since 1994 has worsened the situation. The major sources of income are remittances from expatriate Haitians and foreign aid. Unemployment 50-70%; 75% live in abject poverty. HDI 0.430; 152nd/174. Public debt 31% of GNP. Income/person $310 (1.2% of USA).
A slave revolt against the French in 1804 created the first black republic in the world. A troubled history of bloodshed and dictatorships since then. The deposing of the Duvaliers in 1986 ended a particularly brutal dictatorship. A succession of coups and military governments aborted all attempts at introducing democracy. The coup in 1991, in response to increasing anarchy, led to the US intervention in 1994 to re-introduce democratic government. Since then the whole democratic process has been discredited by multiple delays in calling elections, and a rigged election when it finally took place in 2000.
The Roman Catholic Church's role as the State Church ended in 1987. An estimated 75% of Catholics are also actively involved in Voodoo, a development of West African spiritism and witchcraft. There is freedom of religion.
1 Evangelical Christians have increasingly and openly stood against voodooism and the Satanic dedication of the country in 1791 by the slaves plotting revolt against the French. Satan was seen to be opposed to the Christian religion of their oppressors. Vision Haiti in 1997, with a widely supported prayer and fasting movement, has been seen by many as a turning point in the ending of this curse.
1 Haiti needs to be freed from the bondages of its past. The Spanish genocide against the indigenous Arawakans, the cruel slavery instituted and maintained by the Spanish and then the French are a tragic background. The tyrannies, cruelties and use of voodoo as a means of control by the black elite have fostered a spirit of evil which permeates every level of society. More recent interventions especially by the USA have not improved the lot of the people. Pray that:
2 Haiti needs godly leaders that put first the good of the nation and the addressing of its massive problems. Two centuries of misrule, tyranny and recent flawed democratic attempts have brought hopelessness and despair. The population, crime, poverty, and chaos grow unchecked. Many have looked for hope in drugs or sailing a leaky boat to surrounding lands. Pray that men and women may be raised up who will reverse these trends and bring justice, as well as economic and spiritual betterment to Haiti.
4 The steady growth of Protestant churches in the difficult economic and spiritual climate is cause for praise. Over 22% of the population is Evangelical (some would reckon this is nearer 30%). This has been the result of widespread evangelism, deep commitment to social development and the evident power of Jesus over Satan. Yet there are areas for concern:
a) The rural poor have responded more than the urban elite. Illiteracy, marginalization in society and lack of adequate teaching have all prevented Evangelicals from impacting the structures of society.
b) Church-mission relationships have often been poor and this has diverted energies from the real battle. The manifest poverty of the people and relative affluence of missionaries are barriers to fellowship.
c) The fragmentation of denominations on issues of personality, charismatic growth and liberation theology have confused and divided Christians. The Protestant Federation (formed in 1986) and the Council of Evangelical Churches are giving Protestant Christians a platform for speaking with one voice to the government, and for cooperation in social, evangelistic and prayer initiatives.
5 Leadership training is too limited because of the poverty of the churches. A rigid traditionalism of imported theologies and systems is widespread. Many pastors have had little training, some being barely literate. Pray for the 20 or so Bible schools/seminaries and the many TEE programmes that seek to meet the need. Pray for Haitian leaders to be men of faith and spiritual authority who are not diverted by material inducements.
6 Desperate physical and social needs have attracted a wide range of Christian community development agencies such as WVI, TEAR Fund, World Concern, the Mennonites and many others. Sensitivity and wisdom are needed to preserve the indigeneity, integrity and independence of the churches and their leaders. Pray that every expression of Christian concern in these medical, agricultural, social and literacy programmes may draw folk to the Saviour, and provide long-term benefit that is self-sustaining.
b) The youth. Some are frustrated by a perceived passivity of the Church, though some churches have vigorous youth programmes with many seeking the Lord. There are 28 GBEUH(IFES) groups on university campuses pray that they might bear effective witness.
c) Refugees have fled by boat in their thousands to USA, Cuba, Bahamas and elsewhere. Their destitution and need have made them spiritually receptive. A number of missions (WT, OMS, CoN, Free Methodist and others) have sought to minister to them in Florida and the Bahamas. There are large Haitian communities in cities such as Toronto, Canada (70,000).
8 Missions continue to play a significant, but increasingly supportive role. The political unrest, confrontation with the USA, and also threats and violence against missionaries have forced many to leave. Pray for these servants of the Lord, their witness and example in times of stress, and that they may contribute to the maturing of the church. The larger missions are: Baptists (8 agencies 48 missionaries), UFM (41), Church of Christ (29), Mennonites (22), OMS (17), WT (15), YWAM (12), Wesleyan Church (11) and CoN (8).
a) The Bible Society published the Creole Bible in 1986. This has had a significant impact on the understanding and application of God's Word. Pray that the Church may be transformed and revived. Pray also for effective literacy programmes to be maintained.
b)Christian broadcasting is an effective tool. A high proportion of the population listens to Radio Lumière's five stations in the south and centre (Evangelical Baptist Church of South Haiti [WT]) and 4VEH in the north [OMS]. TWR broadcasts innovative programmes to Haitian children. Pray for wisdom and safety for staff and producers in the tense political conditions where a wrong word could have dire consequences.
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