In the days following the earthquake in Haiti, two things became my constant companions: the TV news channels and the "refresh" button on my Facebook page. Having once worked with International Child Care, which operates Grace Children's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, I had more than a humanitarian interest in this crisis.
I had made several trips to the island and fell in love with the people and places that make Haiti a beautiful nation in spite of its crippling poverty.
No matter how many times I hit that refresh button, news about the hospital and others in Haiti was slow in coming. No surprise — even under normal conditions getting calls and e-mails through to Haiti can be a challenge.
When updates finally came, my heart was alternately breaking and rejoicing as I heard word of friends lost and friends spared. There were miracles — all but one child at the hospital survived despite significant structural damage. But there were many tragic losses, like hospital staff member Claudy St. Juste, who always went the extra mile to help even at great cost to himself.
Beyond my grief for St. Juste and others who died was the feeling of helplessness. I kept up with the news, made donations to three relief organizations, and appealed to friends and family to send money and prayers. Yet I ached to do more for these people whom, directly and indirectly, I had grown to love.
Then one night, as I rocked my infant son back to sleep, I began to pray in rhythm with the rocking chair:
"Lord, be present. Hold them close. Lord, be present. Hold them close." I couldn't physically be with the babies sleeping out under the sky that night. My hands couldn't lift rubble or mend broken bones. But by walking alongside them in prayer, I could call upon the God who knows what it is to be broken and holds all precious children.
Long after the news crews pack up and leave, let us continue to pray for the Haitian people. The weight of poverty, disease and hunger rested heavily on their shoulders before the disaster struck and is sure to be multiplied in the months and years ahead. The more we walk beside them, the lighter that load will be.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers