Writing in the Dark in the Midst of the Storm: Theological Reflections about God, natural disasters, and the inevitable aftermath human suffering?

Writing in the Dark in the Midst of the Storm: Theological Reflections about God, natural disasters, and the inevitable aftermath human suffering?

 I couldn’t sleep Thursday night while Hurricane Matthew was passing by–with  incredible violence and aggression–in Fort Pierce, Florida where I live; rather than sleeping, I was writing in the dark of a category 4 storm. Rather keeping my eyes closed, on that dreadful night, writing about the fragility of life  and the certainty of death in this world has suddenly become a therapeutic moment for me to express my frustrations, disappointments, a sense of hopelessness–giving the fact that science and we humans cannot STOP natural disasters.  My ultimate problem was not/is not science or human knowledge; it was/is God himself. God has become THE PROBLEM in the dark in the midst of the Tropical Storm. 

On the other hand, I must confess that I’m a Calvinist theologically in the sense that I believe firmly in the comprehensive sovereignty and total control of God over natural disasters and human history, and that even natural disasters like deadly and powerful earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, tropical storms, etc. do not take God by surprise, threaten his exhaustive power and sovereignty, and lessen his glorious majesty and overarching governance .

 Why did our prayers fail God’s attention? 
We prayed to God to save our lives, our friends, and safeguard our belongings.

In the case of Haiti, for example, Hurricane Matthew has taken both the lives and belongings of Christians and non-Christians, theists and non-theists, Vodouizan and  non-Vodou practitioners? 

How to think theologically about God, natural disasters, and the inevitable aftermath human suffering?

How to help Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti by Dr. Bertin Louis, Jr. 

How to help Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti by Dr. Bertin Louis, Jr. 
In addition to my previous post about how to help Hurricane victims in Haiti, allow me to share a few more words of advice about donations from a friend, Dr. Bertin Louis, Jr.

” Some people have asked me about Haiti and what you can do in light of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew.

Here’s what you SHOULD NOT DO:

DO NOT DONATE A CENT TO THE RED CROSS.

Here’s a quote from a recent article about the Red Cross’s “efforts” in Haiti: 

“Since the 2010 Haiti earthquake NPR and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and found a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success, according to a review of hundreds of pages of the charity’s internal documents and emails, as well as interviews with a dozen current and former officials.

The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six.”

DO NOT COLLECT IN-KIND GOODS TO SEND TO HAITI. 

Lessons learned from 2004 (Hurricane Jeanne) and 2010 (earthquake) is that these in-kind donations:

a) Destroy the local economy and destabilize the communities. Despite the media portrayals of Haiti, many of the goods you find here in the US can be found in Haiti. Merchants sell rice, canned goods, clothing, etc. So, how can they compete with free? 

b) Cause logistical and financial problems. You will need to collect/ package the goods, get them through customs in US and Haiti, and have a mechanism for distribution inside the country. Many groups in 2010 were stuck with a stockpile of goods that never made it to the intended people. Use your money, time and energy wisely.

c) Lead to an overabundance of some goods and a short supply of others. We see a number of well-intentioned organizations, churches, politicians hosting collection drives but without an official assessment of what is needed on the ground, the collections may end up being futile and leading to same problems as mentioned above. So, if a decision is made to take in-kind donations, the advice given is to wait for the official assessment of needed items.

Here’s WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Donate. Preferably to an organization on the ground with a solid reputation of delivering on its mission.  Here’s a list of Haitian NGOs that you can donate to.  I list Haitian NGOs here because, as the Haitian Embassy has mentioned in a previous Tweet sent out after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti: 

“Hold off on clothes & food drives until assessments have been completed by those on the ground to avoid past mistakes”.  

Those “past mistakes” refers to donating to international aid organizations like Red Cross.  If you donate to a Haitian NGO, that aid will get to those affected on the ground.

HAITIAN-BASED ORGANIZATIONS:

MADRE (https://www.madre.org/)

Lambi Fund of Haiti (http://www.lambifund.org/)

Sowaseed (http://sowaseedonline.org/)

Haiti Communitere (http://haiti.communitere.org/)  

Sakala Haiti (http://www.sakala-haiti.org/)  

SOIL Haiti (https://www.oursoil.org/)

Konbit Solèy Leve (http://www.konbitsoleyleve.com/)

Volontariat pour le Développement d’Haïti (http://www.vdhhaiti.org/)

Fondation Aquin Solidarité (https://hibiscus-haiti.org/projects/fondation-aquin-solidarite-fas-park-design/)

GARR (http://www.garr-haiti.org/)

Hope for Today Outreach (https://hopefortodayoutreach.org/

If there are any other Haitian organizations that you know of, please tag them and/or add them to this list and share with others.  If you know of any Haitian NGOs that are in Jeremie, Port-à-Piment, Les Cayes, Port Salut, Dame Marie, Pestel, Aquin, St Louis de Sud, and Leogane, please post links for them so people can direct funds to places where aid is needed and can get in the hands of those who need it most.

Here are some non-Haitian organizations with proven track records of helping and partnering with Haitians:

NON-HAITIAN ORGS WITH PROVEN TRACK RECORDS IN 

HAITI:

Doctors without Borders (http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/)

Roots of Development (http://www.rootsofdevelopment.org/)

Partners in Health (http://www.pih.org/)

Border of Lights (http://www.borderoflights.org/)

Nova Hope for Haiti (http://www.novahope.org/)

IJDH (http://www.ijdh.org/)

Thank you for your time and attention. My hope is that whatever aid that is intended for helping Haitians in this dire time will get directly to my people.  

Keep Haiti and others in the path of Hurricane Matthew in your thoughts.”—Bertin Louis

How to Help Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti

If you want to make a donation to those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, please send your donations to the address listed below:
Hope for Today Outreach (HTO)

P.O. Box 7353

Port Saint Lucie, FL 34985

Or you contact us below:

By Phone

772-985-0696

• By Email

customers@hopefortodayoutreach.org

By the way, among the other items we’re taking to the Hurricane Matthew Victims in Southern Haiti (i.e. Les Cayes: Chardonniere), we just purchased 300 “185Lumens Waterproof Portable Outdoor Camping Lantern solar Lamp Rechargeable Emergency Tent Light with USB Hook” for $ 1374.00 at Dhgate.com. Our goal is to purchase 1000 of them to distribute to 1000 Haitian families.

lamp

If you want to make a donation toward this goal, please click on the link below for further instructions:

https://hopefortodayoutreach.org/…/post-hurricane-matthew-…/

* We’re sorry that we will not take to Haiti any items that are already available in Haiti or American goods that will weaken Haiti’s agriculture, economy, and market.

Thank you very much
Dr. Celucien Joseph (“Doctor Lou”)
President of Hope for Today Outreach

Please help us! Do not humiliate us!

The Haitian people in Haiti are experiencing a devastating tropical storm named Matthew. It has already caused severe damages in many parts in Haiti. In the process of recovery, we are soliciting your prayers and assistance. Allow me to offer a few words of advise and caution to those who are helping the Haitian people in the transition.

Just help us!

We do not want war. 

We do not want more US occupation of Haiti and in Haiti.

Do not humiliate us while helping us.

Do not demonize us while providing temporary relief.

Do not remind us we are the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. 

Do not remind us we are devil’s worshippers.

Do not exploit this moment of weakness and vulnerability for forced Christian evangelization and conversion.

Just help us while maintaining our dignity and humanity!

Pray with us and pray for us!

How to have a Love Life!

What I learned from my Pastor (Pastor Mike at Calvary Chapel PSL) today about “How to have a Love Life” include the following imperatives, which are drawn from the book of Romans 12:9-21:

1. Be genuine with others.

2. Be respectful to others.

3. Be an example of spiritual fervency to other people.

4. Love strangers.

5. Give to others in their time of need.

6. Show sympathy to others.

7. Don’t be arrogant around people.

8. Do good to others and overcome evil with good.

If I may summarize these eight points in one single sentence, it will be something like this:

What is love?

Love is to see others in ourselves and   ourselves in others.