Anniversary of quake sparks call for ministry
BY ACE PARSI
SPECIAL TO THE UMCONNECTION
This last August, our region was struck by a 5.9 level earthquake. That event, a mere inconvenience, reminded me of the devastating 7.0 level earthquake our brothers and sisters faced in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. The earthquake left over 230,000 dead, over a million people homeless, and made the country more susceptible to public health vulnerabilities such as cholera and other diseases.
Many of our churches have donated money and even taken trips to Haiti, but the challenges of the Haitian people have not passed and neither must our resolve.
Over the last year, I’ve had the blessing of being able to participate in two mission trips to Haiti. The experience has deepened my faith and enriched Foundry UMC’s spiritual journey. Those of us that have gone have learned that Haiti is a place where the impossible becomes possible.
In Haiti, it’s possible for people who don’t speak the same language to come together and sing joyously. It is possible.
When I got violently ill during my second trip, it was possible for the women in the community to run to me, wash my head, and wipe my face with their bare hands as I knelt and vomited. In Haiti that kind of love was possible.
It’s possible for people who have been beaten down by years of injustice and desperate circumstances to continue to have faith, to work and show such great love. It is possible.
Yet Haiti’s challenges did not start with the earthquake and they will not end over night. This two year remembrance can be our opportunity to affirm that we have not forgotten and we will continue to walk with Haitians as they go about their difficult work every day.
As individuals of faith, we can each do our part to ensure that the memory of our Haitian brothers and sisters does not fade. We can pray, we can give, we can advocate and engage in a range of other activities to show solidarity with our neighbors in Haiti.
God’s brilliance lies in the fact that as a collective we can do more than the sum of our parts. Thus, as small groups we can achieve more than we can as individuals, as congregations more than small groups, and as a collective of congregations across the Baltimore-Washington Conference we can do even more yet.
We invite you to join other congregations across the Baltimore-Washington Conference for a collective day of remembrance in honoring those who lost their lives in Haiti on Jan. 12 and also honoring those who remain who are doing the hard work of rebuilding their communities each day across the country.
Each of our churches will have a different level of capacity for and interest in doing activities. From prayers to advocacy, from taking offerings to holding educational events, there is indeed much we can do as congregations.
We hope that, based on your own interests, congregational strengths and spiritual discernment, you will consider doing something on that day.
As Christ taught us, there are two eternal commandments in our faith: love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; and the second, which is similar, is to love your neighbor as yourself. In this spirit, we hope that this event will simultaneously help deepen our connections with our neighbors in Haiti as it deepens our connections to each other as neighbors here in the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
If you are interested in joining other churches across the conference in activity, please contact Ace Parsi, a member of Foundry UMC in Washington, at firstname.lastname@example.org.