Here are the responses of four Modesto pastors to a request for how their churches are responding to the earthquake disaster in Haiti, including any response to the attitude of some, like Pat Robertson, who think the earthquake resulted from Haiti's pact with the devil two centuries ago. Haiti experienced a 6.1 aftershock this morning.
From Pastor Dave Gustafson of Grace Landmark, Jan. 16:
"In response to your request about Haiti 2010.
"Did God say it? I have not read the report from God in any of his prophesy. Woe to those who speak for God when he has not spoken...
"The disaster for that island began back in the slave days and then they were abandoned in poverty when the white man left. No one in the world sees or saw any hope for them nor any asset from them. It has been a hopeless situation in history. Maybe now the island can be bulldozed and started over, but how will it survive with out industry and jobs for the people who still have no hope.
"I predict it will be a well that we will continue to pour money down with out any benefit to any one and life goes on for them on welfare and poverty. When all this help that is pouring in today is gone and eaten up it will still be the same. The only hope the people of this island have is to get off and go somewhere to make a living and no one will let them because they are not an asset to any other society.
"Sad as it is it is the fact of life for them. They were set for this life as soon as the first slave ship landed.
"The only success for any one connected to that island were those who escaped or were brought here as slaves. Emigration even for children takes years to get a visa today. Where is the hope and answers for them? Don't blame God and don't expect any help from the outside either. Nothing has worked so far and another storm will come and you can not blame God or the people it is just where they happen to live now. The only way to solve their problem is for the people of today to die off and for those left to have no more children. Once the population is reduced then it may have a chance to recover on their own, but we know that can never happen as it will just grow and get worse day by day; sad...
"If you do not have a working family and you continue to have babies you are making the poverty worse and that is the basic problem where ever it is.
"AND YOU CAN'T BLAME GOD!"
Grace Landmark Mission
Pastor Dave Gustafson
Meeting location changes.
P.O. Box 5323
Modesto, CA 95352
From Pastor Chuck Adams of The Carpenter's House, Jan. 16:
"We are routing all our efforts through our denominational channels. Convoy of Hope, a relief agency sponsored by our national offices, already had a presence in Haiti before the earthquake, and had just days before re-stocked their warehouses, is actively involved in the relief effort. We will be receiving an offering tomorrow morning, and probably in succeeding weeks, to aid in their efforts."
From Fr. Jon Magoulias of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, Jan. 16:
"The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation supports the efforts of the International Orthodox Christian Charities. The following is an email that was mailed out to the stewards of our parish on January 13. In addition, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has begun collecting funds to support the efforts in response to the tragedy that has occurred in Haiti. Special collections will be made in our parish during the coming weeks to assist in this humanitarian effort to relieve the suffering of the people of Haiti."
"IOCC Mobilizes Disaster Response for Haiti Earthquake
"Baltimore, Md. (IOCC) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is responding to the most devastating earthquake to hit the island nation of Haiti in 200 years. Authorities have not put an estimate of how many were killed by yesterday's magnitude 7.0 earthquake, but thousands are feared dead. People are still trapped in destroyed buildings and leveled shantytowns and there is growing concern about the lack of sanitation, water and electricity.
"IOCC has mobilized its disaster response team and is coordinating with our Orthodox and ecumenical partners to monitor and respond to the emerging needs in Haiti. "Our prayers are with the people of Haiti who have lost loved ones in this disaster that has brought even more suffering to one of the poorest nations in the hemisphere," said IOCC Executive Director & CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou. "IOCC will be working with our fellow ACT Alliance members who are already in place to provide humanitarian aid to those affected by the earthquake."
"You can help the victims of disasters around the world, like the Haiti Earthquake, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit www.iocc.org, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225. You can also donate instantly, online by visiting the link below.
"Orthodox faithful and parishes are encouraged to begin assembling hygiene kits and emergency clean up buckets to be shipped to Haiti. For information on hygiene kits and emergency clean up buckets, see the links pasted below.
"IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented over $300 million in relief and development programs in 33 countries around the world.
"To make a financial donation now click or paste the link below. Thank you.
"Assist by assembling and donating hygiene kits:
"Assist by assembling and donating emergency clean up buckets:
From Pastor Brock Hoyer of Modesto Free Methodist Church, Jan. 18:
"Last week I showed a video from one Bishop Roller who is in Haiti and we took up an offering for Haiti relief. We plan to take up another offering this Sunday also and are planning a fundraiser Valentine's banquet. In the future there will undoubtedly be teams of people going to help from the Free Methodist Church, but Bishop Roller said we should not send any teams right now, just pray and send money. The Free Methodist Church has already begun to respond by bringing in food and supplies from the Dominican Republic. Free Methodists have 105 churches and 15,000 members in Haiti. Three of our missionaries, a pastor's wife, and many of our fellow Free Methodists have been killed, and many buildings destroyed.
"The comment by Pat Robertson about God punishing Haiti for their pact with the Devil was unwise. He has tried to very simply (and ineffectively) deal with a problem which is not a simple one. In Christian theology one of the most difficult problems is called "the problem of evil". How does an all powerful and loving God allow evil to exist in the world, including chaos or random acts of nature. There are several common answers to this which are not adequate for Christians.
1. There is no God. These are just random acts of nature.
2. God is selective, choosing whom he will love, judging some and saving others. Sometimes he will make an example of evil people to prove his power
3. God is weak and can't intervene.
4. God is distant. He has created the universe and set it in motion but now does not care about his creation.
"The Bible deals with this question and answers by saying God does love and care and saves from evil, but he does allow evil to exist for a time for the sake of human freedom and choice. One day all will be made right. Evil in nature is a result of the imbalance in nature or the curse of nature as a result of sin entering the world through mankind (Adam and Eve's) choice. In other words there is a connection between man made chaos and chaos in nature but it is not a direct one. The defects in man and nature (sin) will be cured when Jesus comes back and there is a new heaven and new earth. God helps and sustains us through trials through his own presence (the Holy Spirit) and enables us to grow and mature through these trials. This is not a simple answer, but if the answer were simple, people would probably already know the answer.
"We cannot know for certain why this specific earthquake happened at this time to these people, but we can show our love and care, which God has placed in us and help the people of Haiti."
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Related article: Is there a solution to the 'problem of evil' argument?