By Brian Koonce
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Even as piles of trash grow taller than the piles of earthquake debris, Daniel Miller sees reason for optimism after his recent mission trip to Haiti.
“The hearts of the people are in a perfect state to receive the Gospel,” he said. “They need prayer. Lots of prayer. You can’t pray enough for the people of Haiti. There are lots of places and people all over the world that need prayer, but Haiti is a broken, dark, dark place, and the only way out is Christ.”
Miller was unsuccessful in his attempt to form a mission team to go to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, but he still felt God calling him to make the trip. He recently returned from the mission trip where he worked with International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries working to coordinate disaster relief teams.
A member of Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Miller flew to the Dominican Republic before driving into Port-au-Prince. As one person, he was unable to rebuild houses like many disaster relief teams. Instead, he served alongside the IMB missionaries rebuilding and repairing the Haitian Baptist compound to prepare it to receive future teams. The compound’s wall was destroyed during the Jan. 12 earthquake and several buildings and other structures were severely damaged.
“It doesn’t seem to directly relate to disaster relief, but the better you can make the missionary compound, the easier it will be for them to do ministry outside the compound,” he said.
Mission teams from all over the United States are staying in the compound’s large tents throughout the summer.
The images of rubble and the homeless thousands are seared into the minds of Americans who watch the aftermath of the earthquake on TV. The poverty and devastation made its impression on Miller, but more than anything he took notice of an overwhelming spiritual darkness.
“Haiti is in an odd predicament,” Miller said. “Even before the earthquake, the only role of the Haitian government is to lobby other countries for aid. The people are pretty much on their own. It’s a country deeply rooted in the worship of Satan. As a Dominican pastor said [not specifically about the earthquake but the state of Haiti in general], this is what happens when you abandon God and substitute Satan. I can’t say that the country is cursed, but it’s a spiritually dark place.”
When the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince in January, much was made about the account of a voodoo sacrifice of a pig to Satan during the 1791 revolution against the French.
“I can’t even put into words the feeling of darkness, even in the middle of the day,” he said.
Miller said there are pastors and “good, solid churches” in Haiti, but they are rare. Being a Haitian Christian is difficult. Many churches are plagued by the blending of traditional beliefs with Christianity. There are “simple churches,” a true, Bible-believing Christian congregation and “not-simple churches,” where the pastor of the church claims to be a Christian but is also a voodoo witch doctor.
“But even though the earthquake was a horrible catastrophe, I believe God is going to use this in Haiti,” he said. “The hearts of the people are broken. Once we get the humanitarian stuff taken care of, that’s the moment we need to really push the evangelism. That’s exactly how Christ worked: He met their needs and they were ready to receive His message.”
That message, Miller said, is truly the only the long-term solution Haiti has to its myriad of problems.
“It’s not about health, wealth and prosperity,” he said. “Their problem is not that they have nowhere to live. Their problem is that they don’t have a relationship with Christ.”