Port au Prince, Haiti. Tuesday. January 12, 2010. 4:53 p.m.
It came without warning. No time to prepare - not even time to think about a best reaction. It just happened. And in those moments I realized that I was at the mercy of a force beyond reason. I had no time to be afraid or to think about injury or even dying.
Literally tossed from the desk where I was working to the bed several feet away, I felt a sensation like that of being jolted by a huge battering ram driven against the building again and again. Pictures fell from the walls, furniture was overturned, dishes fell from the cabinets. Everything was coming undone.
In about a minute, as suddenly as it had begun, the earthquake ended.
Those of us in the country had no idea of the magnitude of the quake, but across the metropolitan areas the lives of millions of people were thrust into chaos. Within hours there were bodies on the streets. Families were torn apart - their homes destroyed - for weeks life nearly came to a halt. Survival was uppermost on the minds of those left to cope with the tragedy.
Within 36 hours, the strategy coordinator for the French Field, Bill Dawson, his wife, Martha, a visiting relative of theirs, and I were evacuated from our location in the country. Late on Wednesday night we flew in a DC-3 from the city Port au Prince to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Today, with three years having gone by and finding myself hundreds of miles removed from Haiti, I still vividly remember the violent shaking, the sounds, the sights, and the smells of that day.
In the aftermath of the quake, our good people in Haiti gathered together and prepared to reach out to their grief-stricken neighbors. With courage and grace they opened their hearts and homes to serve those in need while speaking words of hope and truth into their lives.
At that time I wondered how the Haitian Nazarenes would go on after such a catastrophe. How and where would they find strength just to live each difficult day? How could they minister to others under such unmanageable circumstances?
The answer came to me within weeks of the event. A media team from the Church of the Nazarene's Global Ministry Center traveled to Haiti to capture video footage of some early recovery efforts and to help prepare for the response of the international Nazarene family.
While they were there, on Friday night, January 28, our wonderful people gathered in the open-air tabernacle at the Bible college and seminary. People from the community came for the service, and many others who were camping on the school grounds joined in as well. The Christians worshiped God and shared the gospel with everyone present. Some were converted that night and all were encouraged.
The media team brought back images and pictures that helped inspire Nazarenes from this continent to go to Haiti in large numbers to rebuild churches, schools, and homes. Medical personnel partnered with Heart to Heart International in opening clinics to serve the medical needs of the people. Thank God for these and other humanitarian groups around the world who responded with generosity and sacrifice.
One particular audio clip answered my questions about the earthquake.
The screen is black. There are no images. Only these words:
January 28, 2010
16 days after the earthquake
You hear the voices of our heroic Haitian Nazarenes as they lifted their voices to God that night, singing:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know, I know, He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives!
"Just because He lives!" That says it all. "Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. So in Christ all will be made alive" (from 1 Corinthians 15:20, 22).
And if the resurrected, living Christ is enough for people in the most extreme conditions, then he is enough for me - for us! Let the celebration go on! Christ is risen indeed!
J. K. Warrick serves as general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, MA13