Following the recent massive earthquake in Haiti, a question hangs in the air: of all the places in the world to be struck with total devastation, why Haiti? The death toll seems likely to reach 200,000 according the Haitian Interior Minister. Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, has been virtually destroyed by this earthquake. Chaos, anarchy, and devastation–all these words seem inadequate to describe the suffering of this Caribbean nation. So, again, why Haiti?
Perhaps the better question to ask, though, is why not here? It is too simplistic to look at Haiti’s poverty, superstition, and inept government and say that this was a tragedy just waiting to happen. Yes, cities in Haiti deserved to be punished. But then, so do Miami, New York, Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Birmingham, Peoria and South Bend. Which city or country on earth can say that it has honored God as it should? You might even argue that American cities which have benefited more from the wise teachings of the Bible are even be more accountable for failing to follow God in righteousness than Haiti is.
To any trained observer, it should have been easy to see that Haiti was ripe for destruction. Poor building codes and construction, overcrowding, and corrupt leadership in a geographic region prone to hurricanes and seismic instability–all of these comprise a recipe for disaster. Yes, Haiti needs help today. But the nation was also in need of help before this devastating earthquake. This is the lesson to be learned. You see, there is another recipe for disaster that should catch our attention.
What would you say about a land that encourages the killing of unborn infants, a land that is indifferent to sexual immorality, that governs without regard to God’s written Word, that protects the rights of those who publish pornography while forbidding its schools to pray and give honor to the one true living God? Is such a land not mocking the God of the universe? Americans enjoy unprecedented material comfort. Yet we do not want to give God any credit for his blessings to us for fear we might offend someone who hates Him. Just as there were plenty of indicators pointing to trouble ahead for Haiti, there are many more indicators that point to trouble ahead for America. The question is, will the church lead the way in repentance? Will the church lead the way in rescuing the lost? Just as with Haiti’s earthquake, no one can predict when God’s patience will come to an end. We do know, however, that it is not good to presume upon God’s mercy. Calling out to the lost is the mission of the church. If the church embraces this calling, this Great Commission, God may yet withhold his hand.
It is a good thing to offer help to the Haitians and to pray for them. It is a good thing to consider the desperate need for the gospel in many other places are around the world. It is a good thing to pray for God’s mercy upon us. But it is a foolish thing to live as if God is indifferent to the sin and rebellion against Him that persists in our own country. America is said to have entered its post-Christian phase. Perhaps that is true. But it is also true that thousands and tens of thousands of Christians live in this country. As in the day of Jonah, our God is able to call people back from sin and self-interest. May the people of God, his church, see the signs of our time. May we passionately call those around us to come to Christ, the great King. I pray that God will use the events in Haiti to cause us as Americans to see our great need of the saving mercies of Jesus Christ. Consider how you will respond if you hear someone ask, why Haiti? Perhaps your answer should be the gentle reply, “Why not here?”