Ilexene Alphonse is manager of the Ministry Center and Guesthouse of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, where he serves as a program volunteer for the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service program. He sent this letter to the Church of the Brethren in the US:
Port au Prince, Haiti
January 5, 2012
Dear beloved Church of the Brethren,
January 12 is my wedding anniversary to my wife Michaela. January 12 is the day I saw my country falling, my people dying, and my hopes for my people fading. I lost family members and friends. I felt like a bird with two wings but could not fly to avoid danger. I imagine on January 12, 2012, there’ll be mourning, praying, singing. People will light candles, visit mass graves to remember loved ones. People will give speeches. People will again make a lot of promises. As for me I will remember this day in prayer thanking God for life and thanking God for the Church of the Brethren.
Some people prefer not to know what’s going on, because information might bring obligation. The old saying is “What you don’t know doesn’t hurt.” Nehemiah asked about Jerusalem and the Jews living there because he had a caring heart. When you care about people, you want the facts, no matter how painful they may be.
Church of the Brethren, you did not rebuild Haiti in 52 days, but the rebuilding, restoring, and healing started two days after the earthquake. When brothers Roy Winter, Jeff Boshart, and Ludovic St. Fleur showed up the people saw a very small but very bright light coming out of the dark. They had hope.
Church of the Brethren, you didn’t just ask about the Haitian remnant, you didn’t say: You are Haitian, you are strong, you are a resilient people you’ll survive. But you stayed. You’re touching lives, giving hope to a hopeless people, feeding school children, providing hygiene kits, mobile clinics, building houses, building relationships, and still doing these things today. I have seen school children rejoicing after a hot meal, people receiving medical treatment, moving from homelessness to a beautiful home. The smiles are incomparable. All this happened because you care, and you asked for the facts.
I don’t have the right words to thank you for what you’ve done for the people of Haiti. For the love you’ve shown, for the peace you brought, THANK YOU. Thank you for answering God’s call when you came to our rescue. Thank you for saying yes. Jesus will never take what you did for granted. When you do it to the least you do it to Him. “Who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17).