A Broken Heart Is a Better Response to the Crisis in Haiti – Part 2

In light of my previous post, I thought I’d write on the other side of how I felt. Like everyone my heart is broken for the massive loss of life in Haiti.

I remember reading in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers that the worst accidents are usually the result of a series of mistakes and unfortunate circumstances that converge on a single moment. While he was referring to plane crashes, I could not help but see a correlation.

To illustrate further, one can click the quick post on The Tale of Two Earthquakes. A massive earthquake, a dense population, and many poorly constructed homes are among the many factors that contributed to a high death toll. Add the lack of social infrastructure, lack of adequate emergency services, an extremely poor energy grid, and the nightmare continues.

In all the apocalyptic disaster movies I’ve watched, I still cannot bear to imagine the pain of actually living through this. I was tempted to stop reading the NY Times piece but continued with the hope that reading about their pain would demand me to pray and give more. The mere observation of it has proved to be overwhelming and I am relieved that in all of the violence I have witnessed, I have not become decenstized enough to not care. Further, in an odd sense, I am comforted by the grief around me because it communicates that we are not numb, that we care, that we are human. So how does one respond to such a tragedy?

I must say I was encouraged by the shock and the outpouring of care. All day, emails were being exchanged trying to determine the status of missionaries that were living there. Former pastors and members emailed requesting prayer and forwarding their correspondences of connections they had from Haiti. I woke up this morning and received an email of a family that had been mentioned yesterday were alive and though homeless, they were safe. However, in a different email chain, one family has not yet reported in. Everyone is connected in some way.

Friends on Facebook and Twitter forwarded opportunities to help contribute relief funds. I’ve added links below. You could even text money from your phone through American Red Cross. This was compassion, community and technology at its best.

Passing by a television I heard a comment of someone who saw on her television a school that their she and her volunteer team had constructed this past summer. It was completely destroyed. As awful as that moment was, there was a swallow of comfort knowing that people were serving, building, and loving Haiti before this tragedy.

As we speak, there are volunteer organizations and people on the ground already doing their best to help. Many more are on the way and in the short term, we will feel encouraged by the outpouring of love from the world. But what we do next year will still matter. What we do five years from now will be of great importance.

This is exactly the reason of why our youth group is returning to New Orleans this summer. While it may be out of the spotlight, there is so much to be done. The summer after that, we hope to return to serve the AIDS camp we served at this summer. And while our church youth group will not be able to go to meet every need, there is a goodness in a keeping a broken heart. It compels us to pray to a loving God, it insists that we find ways to help, it encourages other people to get involved in their way, it helps keeps us humble, and offers us to keep perspective of what really matters.  Maybe the Lord will lead us to work with our Haitian missionary, maybe the Lord will lead you.

As we pray, grieve we can also give and here are a few safe ways we can donate:

Those in my denomination have been encouraged to give through EFCA Touch Global Fund

The American Red Cross is one of the most widely known organizations working in Haiti. They accept online donations, help volunteers arrange to give time or other support, and can accept $10 donations, charged to your cellphone bill, by texting HAITI to 90999.


Doctors Without Borders

I am a Christian pastor and I am angry with Pat Robertson …

Initially I was not going to post on this but I changed my mind right after this conversation with the barista at Borders, “Hey you’re a pastor, what did you think of what Pat Robertson said?”.  I said it was terrible, spoke on the distraction that it’s causing the suffering in Haiti and said a couple of things, including it was not Christ-llike.  He responded with, “Yeah, but all those guys are like that …maybe not you personally but …” and preceded to tell me why Christians suck.

“It may be a blessing in disguise. … Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. Haitians were originally under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it’s a deal. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.” –Pat Robertson, on the earthquake in Haiti that destroyed the capital and killed tens of thousands of people, Jan. 13, 2010

I am a Christian pastor and I am angry with Pat Robertson … but it’s what I do next that matters.

Can I love Pat Robertson?
Words cannot express my frustration with this man.  If the word “optimism” comes to mind when hearing of the death of thousands of people, then it is more likely that he is actually delusional then a Spirit-filled Christian.  Watching this video is painful and I will not be convinced that we are watching and hearing the words of a healthy Christian mind.  It isn’t just bad theology, it’s a complete lack of compassion being broadcast to millions of people. Allowing this man to appear on television today was a sin for the Church.

Frankly, I find his continued actions to be absolutely deplorable. He’s on a short list of people (Osama, Ahmadinejad, Fred Phelps …). That said, I find the words of Jesus to be even more powerful than this terrible informed man who has diarrhea of the mouth. I can find forgiveness and with God’s grace, I can love the corrupt, the terrorist, all evildoers, even myself. I know that I must pray for this man.  I must pray for my treatment of him.  I must pray for those around him, for those who regard him as a hero and for those that see him as a delusional, crazy, idiot.  As you can see, there’s a lot to pray for but many of us have prayed these prayers before.  And if we cannot find it within in our souls to pray for this man, then the gospel is not in us.  For more see Evan Curry’s post, “Pat You Are Wrong But I Forgive You”.

However, as a Christian community, we are overdue in trying to find a way to remove this man from this position. This is not the first time he has said such things.  We must lovingly remove this man from his microphone. I am not suggesting that we assassinate him like how he suggested that someone assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Nor am I saying that he is/was not a Christian. While I am tempted to trade him to a different religion (“Someone get Phil Jackson’s agent on the line!”), I think it’s time that he step down or be removed from his position.

I know he’s only a televangelist and the people who watch him and support him are the same who purchase exercise products and “get rich quick” videos from noon til 2am but it’s time to pull the plug on the 700 Club and quite possible the network he founded.  How does one stop a network? Does anyone have any actual experience in this? This might become a post-seminary goal right after starting a pub church. I’m thinking the way not to go is creating another Facebook group that begins with “1 Million Christians Who …”. While I applaud their efforts in somehow keeping email free (thereby demonstrating that God is clearly on their side), these groups usually only manage to annoy Christians and non-Christians. Chances are the network will die when Pat passes on (biting my digital tongue) or when the Golden and Boomer generations run out of money but I think as a Church, we need to remove this man as soon as possible and I think it’s time for his network to put on a farewell special for him.

“Can’t we just ignore him?”
I read a tweet of someone I respect and he mentioned that we ought not to call attention to Robertson comparing him to a crazy uncle of some sort.  (It reminded of that scene in Charlie Wilson’s War when Tom Hanks yells, “This is the Cold War – everybody knows about it!”.  Well, for starters, I’ve never had the proverbial crazy uncle. So I’m not sure how that goes. But in the same way that I expect moderate, peace-keeping Muslims to renounce extremists, I am among the many who are renouncing Pat Robertson. He’s like a suicide bomber minus the high commitment level. Seriously, we cannot keep dismissing this man as a senile old man, the old man needs to step down – it’s what a loving Church should do for the encouragement to itself, for the witness of those outside the faith and for the sake of the Kingdom.

For further reading, these are the posts that helped temper me.  One last thought though, please do not channel your grief of the crisis in Haiti  towards this man and not to do something redemptive with that energy (like pray, give, find opportunities to help, etc.).

A Response to Pat Robertson’s Comments about Haiti by Don Miller

“God, Jesus Announce Boycott of 700 Club” by the Desperate Blogger’s Salon page – this one made me laugh.

Why It Matters How We Respond to Bad Theology by Ed Cyzewski