General Superintendent J. K. Warrick (JKW) arrived in Haiti on January 12 to conduct district assemblies. When the earthquake occurred, he was at the Séminaire Théologique Nazaréen d'Haiti in Petionville near Port-au-Prince. He has had ongoing involvement with the relief efforts working with the Caribbean Regional Office. Holiness Today (HT) spoke with him, allowing readers to sense his compassion for this hurting nation.
HT: Share the first impressions of what you witnessed in Haiti.
JKW: The seminary sits on a hill in Petionville, about 10 to 15 miles from the epicenter of the quake. As we looked over the valley, the hills turned to dust. We could hear people crying out in the aftermath of the quake. | Some, I am sure, were cries of fear but others were undoubtedly those of suffering and loss.
HT: What did you experience?
JKW: Driving through Petionville, we saw thousands of people in the streets. Because people were everywhere, we had to move carefully. We saw that the main market and a four-story building had collapsed, and knew people were trapped. A children's hospital had collapsed as had many houses. Streets were filled with rocks and debris. People were milling around, confused and dazed.
HT: How has the experience affected you, personally?
JKW: It's emotional, not so much for having gone through it but for what you see. Seeing the bodies, watching people search around the bodies for a familiar face-it's just an incredible amount of pain and suffering to witness.
HT: Questions on the minds of people after such a disaster tend to be that of "why." Why did it happen, why were some lives spared and not others, and where was God?
JKW: The only thing to do is to bow before the mystery of it all. I believe we serve an all powerful and all loving God. When God created the world, I believe He set the Earth in orbit. Underground plates that shift are amoral. There is no rational explanation. Such events are a part of living in this world.
I would never question the character or purposes of God. We know God grieves over the impact of suffering.
I do believe in Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (KJV). He works in us and through us to bring about good.
HT: Obviously, the work of the Church of the Nazarene in Haiti will continue to operate and to serve in meeting the tremendous needs of the people. What encouragement can you offer?
JKW: I'm proud of our Nazarene leaders there. We have outstanding district superintendents, pastors, and lay people. They need us to supply them with resources. These are great people and God is going to use them to help bring something good to a hurting nation.
I do not believe God caused the earthquake but He will be working in the aftermath, primarily through His people.
As I stated in an earlier update on Haiti, our gratitude goes to Caribbean Regional Director John Smee, along with Curt and Beth Luthye, the regional Nazarene Compassionate Ministries coordinators, for their tireless efforts to help coordinate our relief work. Field Strategy Coordinator Bill Dawson and his wife, Martha, will direct the church's ongoing work through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.
And our people are responding magnanimously. The people of God are generous. We are thankful for the spirit of compassion reflected in Nazarenes around the world who are responding to this situation.
Haiti is a Caribbean nation, located in the western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic. Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city.
Population: Prior to the earthquake, the population was 9,035,536.
Roman Catholic- 80 percent.
Protestant- 16 percent.
None- 1 percent.
Other- 3 percent.
Roughly half of the population practices voodoo.
Official Languages: French. Creole.
Church of the Nazarene in Haiti