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What God Looks Like in Haiti

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If Pat Robertson didn't say outrageously repugnant things, such as his recent remark that the devastating earthquake that leveled the capital of Haiti was Divine punishment for Haitians having made a pact with the Devil, two hundred and some years ago, to give them strength to break free of the bonds of slavery... well no one would remember that the old man was still alive!

Contemptible as his statement is--in the eyes of God and of all humanity--I'd just as soon dispose of it by ignoring it... let it fade out as the static it is. Except that it's not just static.

Trouble is, a fair number of people will take that attitude to Haiti and call it help. Trouble is, Protestant missionaries of Robertson's uncharitable stripe have been doing just that for a long time now. They have deliberately done, and continue to do, damage to Haitian culture and Haitian religion on the order of the Taliban blowing up those Buddha statues in Afghanistan.

As for Robertson's claiming that the old pact with the Devil was a true story -- well it is true in this limited way: when the Haitian Revolution began two hundred years ago the Haitians prayed to their gods to aid their struggle, as all religious people are wont to do on the brink of war, and their gods are not the same as whatever it is Robertson prays to.

I don't call myself a very good Christian but I think I know one when I see one, and I also think I know when I don't. As a general thing I don't believe in Hell, but after what he said about Haiti I think there must be a Hell just for Pat Robertson.

Now just look at me, all swole up with anger.

At this point I say to myself and whoever might still be listening that not all the Protestant missionaries in Haiti are like that--that many of them must be true Christians and I hope and pray that most of them are.

Then and only today I remembered that I know somebody just like that. In the middle of worrying and praying over so many people I know down in that landslide, I forgot until now about her. I will not say her name although she is wholly present to my mind as I write these lines, and I pray for her as best I can, not knowing if she is dead or alive. She was a girl in a church I attended for a few years when my daughter was of Sunday School age--a church of deep and sincere faith (and very few members, and no presence on TV or in the media). I did not know her or her family well, though I did know she was interested in Haiti and, before the church broke up and we all scattered, she went on a mission trip there. I've seen her since a time or two. She grew up and settled in Haiti, helping to run a very small orphanage on one of the hills of Port-au-Prince.

No matter what disagreements we might have had if we'd ever talked about it, she will always be for me what Haitians call moun lakay--a child of the house.

Here's what I'm guessing: she went down there (as in the case of so many Protestant evangelicals) to fight the Devil, face to face.

Here's what I know: I went down there to see God, face to face.

Here's the sad part (until maybe, Lord willing, we'll one day finally understand and rise above it)-- as much as we keep missing the point, we're both looking, face to face, at exactly the same thing.

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