(Nashville, Tenn. – 7/12/2011) – Patrick Villier, the President of CONASPEH, the National Spiritual Council of Haitian Churches, presented the “Be the Change” lecture on Tuesday afternoon. CONASPEH is an ecumenical council of about 8,000 Haitian churches.
The emotionally and spiritually charged presentation by Villier shared the voice of Haiti with the hundreds assembled in the plenary hall. The main themes were what it means for Disciples to serve in a changing global context and what we can learn in relationship with partners like CONASPEH as the people of Haiti face disaster upon disaster.
The church has always been challenged by change. And change is nowhere more evident than in Haiti, El Salvador and other countries experiencing large scale change.
President Villier came to the Assembly not out of spiritual pride, nor humiliation but from a land of experience and hope, turmoil and two centuries of misery, diversity, adversity and waiting for change.
He reminded us that to believe requires hope in the midst of adversity. The church in Haiti is giving that hope, and the assurance that God is there, in the midst of the adversity, pain, natural disasters, slavery, poverty, governmental corruption, control by NGOs, injustice, exploitation, adverse decisions, coups, disease and on and on. Even in this, especially in this, God is there.
It doesn’t work to try to be someone we are not. Haitians need to develop their own policies and reconstruct themselves and their country. This will not be easy as so many of Haiti’s brightest minds have left the country and 75% of farmers have sold their land.
Glen Stewart, Regional Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tennessee, has firsthand experience and knows the church and people of Haiti. Over the years he and an annual team from Tennessee have traveled to Haiti to understand the people and their needs and responded with support and love for the people’s ministry. He and a team were there in January of 2010 when the earthquake hit. Even in that disaster, the faith of the people of Haiti was witnessing the power and presence of God. And the church in Haiti knows how to “Tell It!”
Haiti is a land of hope and experience. President Villier invited us to join him there to experience the history, hope and promise of this remarkable people and to feel the presence of God working there.
By: Cyril Stewart