Report from Haiti: “The free man will never be broken”

This inspiring story comes from the latest Partners In Health e-newsletter. PIH has had a presence in Haiti for many years and is on the front lines of the post-earthquake relief effort. Visit their Stand With Haiti page to donate money and read more tales from the field.

PIH Medical Director Dr. Joia Mukherjee arrived in Port-au-Prince less than 48 hours after the 7.0 earthquake left hundreds of thousands of people dead, injured, homeless, and afraid. However, the image burnt most powerfully in her memory is one of hope.

After her first day treating patients, Joia asked the Zanmi Lasante driver, “Kote Neg Mawon?” (Where is Neg Mawon?) He brought her to the destroyed National Palace, and there in front of it was the statue of Neg Mawon. The symbol of Haiti, Neg Mawon means at once marooned man, the runaway man and the free man.

In 1804 the Haitian slaves defeated the army of Napoleon making Haiti the first and only nation founded by a slave revolution. This victory resulted in Haiti being feared by the world’s powerful countries and thus politically marginalized or dominated for the next 200 years. Symbolizing this epic struggle, Neg Mawon stands, shackles broken, machete in hand, defiant and unafraid. He blows a conch to call others to freedom.

Joia found herself weeping in front of the statue when a Haitian woman–a survivor who until that moment was a stranger–approached her. She too was crying and as she put her arms around Joia, she said, “Neg mawon pap jamn kraze.” The free man will never be broken.

See the photo and read the rest here.

New Radio Program at Gay Christian Fellowship

The Gay Christian Fellowship is an affirming evangelical website featuring Bible studies, a discussion forum, book and movie reviews, and (coming soon) a searchable gay-friendly church directory. Their latest project is The Voice of GCF, a weekly streaming radio show hosted by Bryan Dillon and Pastor Romell Weekly. Pastor Weekly is the drafter of the Affirmation Declaration, an inclusive response to the Manhattan Declaration. I enjoyed listening to their first show, which covered, among other topics, the importance of reading the Bible for yourself. New half-hour episodes will be released every Monday.

Here’s an excerpt from one of Pastor Weekly’s articles at GCF:

If there’s one thing about God’s people that hurts my heart more than anything, it’s how little we understand our worth in the Lord. Our poor concept of humility has led to a deficiency of confidence, both spiritually, as well as naturally. Somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves that this was a virtue. IT IS NOT!

It is neither haughty nor prideful to be sure of who we are as children of the King of the Universe. Our Father is not some far away, detached demagogue who selfishly demands worship but has no interest in positively impacting our lives. To the contrary, He intensely desires for our lives to be enriched by His presence working in and through us.

Now, if the Personhood of love is at work in our lives (whether we can perceive the evidence of it or not), what justification could we possibly have for looking down upon the gift of God at work in our lives? Sure, He’s not finished with us just yet—some of our rough edges have yet to be smoothed out—but still, Scripture calls His work in us “good” (Ph. 1:6).

Think about that for a moment. The Creator of Heaven and Earth is doing a work in you, and He calls it a “good work”. Now, if His work in you is considered good from the Divine perspective, surely there’s nothing in that worth feeling ashamed of.

Is a master painter ashamed of his work-in-progress? Does he consider horrid the splashes of color on the canvas, just because the image has not yet taken form, or does he value the present mess as though it is the masterpiece he knows it will become?

Read the whole article here. This message particularly spoke to me because I often am ashamed of my novel-in-progress for its imperfections, which has less to do with my novel than with unhealed personal shame that needs continual doses of God’s grace. Unless I “value the present mess”, I won’t be able to pick up my notebook each day and try to make it a little bit better.