On Tuesday, January 12, faces of men, women and children--lost, forlorn and without hope--flashed across the Internet and television as the world watched one of the Western hemisphere’s poorest nations undergo tremendous human suffering. In the aftermath of the reported 7.0 earthquake which struck the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince that fateful evening, hundreds of thousands were feared dead. But the photos of the dead, wounded, dying and devastation were eerily familiar—echoes of another crisis on American shores we called “Katrina.” Like those most effected by the deluge that wreaked havoc in New Orleans, Haitian victims are also black- and brown-skinned people used to political and economic inequities. They live in a world wrought with uncertainty, riddled with severe lack, and punctuated by social injustice. They are the off-scouring of society, the have-nots and never-wills.
Unlike the woefully inadequate rescue efforts during Katrina, agencies from around the globe seemed to respond simultaneously with one heart and mind to help unearth bodies of the living and the dead, bind up the wounded, and rush to comfort a province of fallen “brethren.” These were not left to wait and die in flooded bayous or stench-filled stadiums littered with hopelessness and despair. It seemed as if the world had learned a valuable lesson that it did not want to repeat: in spite of the color of one’s skin, mankind is a brotherhood of humanity that dwells on the earth’s surface, enduring natural and manmade disasters that affect us all. We can no longer turn our backs on those who are hurting, hungry or destitute. The fact that globally, government relief agencies have so readily come to the aid of Haiti is commendable. The lessons learned from New Orleans, Indonesia, and now Haiti, have taught us that we all are our brother’s keeper.
But is there a message from God in the midst of calamity? Was the January 12th earthquake that nearly leveled the capital of Haiti an omen against wickedness and witchcraft practiced by so many of the region’s inhabitants? Did God allow Hurricane Katrina to unleash His wrath upon New Orleans, renown for its godless debauchery? It is quite possible—Biblical history proves that the moral decadence and sin of a nation does not go unpunished. “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). God can and does use “weapons of mass destruction” such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes to prod and provoke godless nations to cease from wickedness and idolatry.
But well-meaning Christians, especially in the United States, need to take a good look at the moral decadence in our own backyard before pronouncing woe on poverty-stricken Haitians. Have we, as a nation that once knew God, set ourselves up for certain destruction by following pagan practices of infanticide, abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriages? In the U.S., we don’t practice voodoo, pray to the spirits of the dead, or cast bones to determine our future. But Americans have grown accustomed to using subtle yet socially-acceptable means of conjuring up wicked imaginations that manifest into legislation that not only kills the unborn but also challenges and changes laws that protect the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Has our socially-acceptable, politically-sanctioned, twenty-first century rebellion set us up for destruction; or should we take heed to the examples of Haiti, New Orleans, and Indonesia?
As we witness the devastation of earthquake victims in poverty-ravished Port-au-Prince, saint and sinner alike need to take stock of where America is headed morally and spiritually. We yet have time to repent as a nation and turn back to the God of our forefathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We yet have time to exercise our rights of American citizenry to help our country’s leaders realize that a nation that honors and obeys God is a nation that shall prosper economically, and a nation that shall be kept from annihilation. In the Old and New Testaments, when God allowed floods, hurricanes, disease, and pestilence to threaten the Hebrews, He promised to remove those calamities if they would return and obey His commandments. As we pray for those who are hurt or have lost loved ones in Haiti and for the continued recovery and rebuilding of New Orleans, certainly we must examine our own nation’s moral and spiritual decadence and begin to obey God, unless America—one nation once under God—becomes an unwitting victim of natural or manmade disaster.