On the radio the other day, the topic of Haiti came up and before we
got into the latest rescue and relief efforts and how much help is
needed and how it’s being handled by the nations and our government in
particular……the first point was the belief many people have that God
brings good out of everything, even catastrophes of this magnitude.
It’s hard, nearly impossible, to see or imagine the good in horrific
devastation in Haiti….

Until you hear and see things like this.

“Given all their country and people have been through, between
political upheavals, human rights abuses, hurricanes, abject poverty
and last week’s earthquake, “If Haitians were constantly questioning
their faith, they would all be atheists.”

“These words came from the Rev. Eric Hill as he prepared to lead
Haitian Mass Sunday at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in
Decatur, Georgia.

“Some of the 100 Haitian parishioners who gathered raised their
hands to the heavens in praise, grateful their loved ones had been
found. Others bowed their heads and clenched their hands for those
lost, still missing and all who suffered. One woman wept out of guilt
because she — a U.S. citizen — had been able to leave her devastated
homeland a day after the quake, while so many were left behind.

“Their unshaken faith and devotion to God is the same sort that’s
played out in other houses of worship, in living rooms and on the
torn-up streets of Haiti.”

This is deeply inspiring.

“Given all their country and people have been through, between
political upheavals, human rights abuses, hurricanes, abject poverty
and last week’s earthquake, “If Haitians were constantly questioning
their faith, they would all be atheists.”

“These words came from the Rev. Eric Hill as he prepared to lead
Haitian Mass Sunday at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in
Decatur, Georgia.

“Some of the 100 Haitian parishioners who gathered raised their
hands to the heavens in praise, grateful their loved ones had been
found. Others bowed their heads and clenched their hands for those
lost, still missing and all who suffered. One woman wept out of guilt
because she — a U.S. citizen — had been able to leave her devastated
homeland a day after the quake, while so many were left behind.

“Their unshaken faith and devotion to God is the same sort that’s
played out in other houses of worship, in living rooms and on the
torn-up streets of Haiti.”

And here’s the magnificence of enduring human faith that’s being played out on those streets.

“At night, voices rise in the street. Sweet, joyful, musical voices
in lyric Creole. A symphony of hope in a landscape of despair.

“It doesn’t mean anything if Satan hates me, because God loves me,”
sing the women at Jeremy Square, their faces almost invisible in the
darkness of this powerless, shattered downtown. “God has already paid
my debt.”

“Haiti is known as a society of devout Christians — Catholics,
Protestants, Methodists, evangelicals — and followers of voodoo. Faith
has long played a powerful role in this impoverished nation, giving
hope to the poor and fulfilling social functions that the government is
incapable of handling.

“But in the days since the earth pitched and rolled here,
pulverizing shanties and mansions alike, the religious differences that
sometimes separated Haitians have come crashing down.

“Port-au-Prince has become a kind of multidenominational, open-air
church. Tens of thousands live in the street together, scraping for
food and water, sharing their misery and blending their spirituality.

“The women singing together in Jeremy Square might never have
worshiped side by side before the disaster, but now their voices
harmonize and soar well past 2 in the morning. Lionelle Masse, a
stringy woman with a deep, sad voice, lost a child in the quake. She
sings next to Rosena Roche, a fiery-eyed Catholic whose husband is
buried under tons of rubble.

“I still have faith in God,” Roche says. “I want to give glory to God.”

This is probably unimaginable to those of us who still have our
creature comforts all about us, maybe even complaining over relatively
small problems or disruptions in our lives. It’s sure given me pause…

“Seekers stream into the parking lot of the ruined Sacre Coeur
Catholic church, a 105-year-old brick gem that was turned into a grim,
hollowed-out shell, its stunning stained-glass windows tossed to the
ground in shards. There, the Catholics and the Protestants and others
seek solace from Father Hans Alexander, a Haitian priest who took his
decidedly un-Haitian first name from his German father. He doesn’t ask
them about their religion; he asks them about their pain.

“Catholics and Protestants and other religions are praying together
now,” Alexander says, as two tearful women slump over his thick, broad
shoulders. “We are saying, ‘We love Jesus; we don’t care about
religions. We just care about the Lord.’ ” He has tried to teach his
followers this lesson for years but did not always succeed in changing
the minds of parishioners who thought their religion was better or
truer than others. The quake, he says, has done much to convince those
he could not.”

Praise the Lord, and pass the humanitarian relief…

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....