Joni and Friends Blog
Outreach During Civil Unrest in Haiti
The bumpy ride from the Port-au-Prince Airport to our hotel was an intense 4 hours; the final leg of a trip that began nearly 4 months earlier. Our Wheels for the World mission – originally scheduled for last November – had been postponed due to intense local rioting and political unrest. Which meant, if we were to make it to Haiti to serve the disabled this time, we’d have to heed the call of Luke 14…and ‘hurry.’
Upon landing, amid clear and present danger, the in-country partners Richard and Gina prayerfully and carefully arranged for us to have a security escort; angels cleverly disguised as policemen. And like doctors with an antidote, we’d finally arrived to deliver it. The clock on mission Haiti had started; time that was already running out.
“If we were going to make it to Haiti to serve the disabled, we’d have to heed the call of Luke 14…and hurry.”
Monday’s dawn brought with it 46 families. Tuesday another fifty-six. But as the day progressed, we were informed that the riots in Port-au-Prince were escalating. With word of serious injuries and reported deaths in surrounding areas, we were urged to leave the country. We wanted to stay, however, because a countless number of people affected by disability needed the gospel. Turns out that leaving Haiti proved far more difficult than getting there. We were being forced to pack.
So with an abbreviated itinerary looming, our exit strategy was to make the most of Wednesday. We arrived before dawn and stayed till the loss of light. And what a day it was. As we served – providing wheelchairs and Bibles to those impacted by disability – we’d get reports that many of the families were unable to get back home due to road blocks and angry protesters. Finding refuge in a local church and supplied with food and water by ministry partners, a number of our new friends slept on concrete floors for days; a new Bible under an arm or two I imagine. In their neighborhoods, schools were on lock-down. Pastors of local churches were stranded and separated from their homes. Chaos.
But in the midst of it all, God was at work and grace was happening. If our dwindling time on Wednesday had been calculated in loaves and fish, then 115 families left being full of the gospel and with gifts of mobility. But our time was up. As I type this sentence, we’re heading to Cap Haiten, then a quick stop in the Bahamas to refuel and then it’s off to Fort Pierce FL.
We’re home. But, we’ll be back.
– Eric Jones
Eric oversees Joni and Friends’ national and international ministries. He is an ordained pastor and former Joni and Friends Texas Area Director with extensive experience in disability ministry. A Georgia native, Eric received his undergraduate degree from Atlanta Christian College before moving to California to attend Fuller Theological Seminary. Since graduating with his M.A. in Christian Leadership, Eric has furthered his education at California Baptist University with continuing education courses in Disability Studies, such as the Beyond Suffering Course developed by Joni and Friends.