Parting the waters of Caribbean bureaucracy
Anyone who has worked, lived, or passed through a country like
Haiti knows that trying to get any bureaucratic thing processed means
navigating an interminable quagmire of paperwork, signatures, and
stamps. Getting official approval for a personal visa alone can be a
nightmare, much less see through logistical details for a rally for a
tens of thousands of people.
I’ve been a part of events where maybe God was with us, maybe not. For
this month's Anniversary Rally, the Red Sea was parted in ways we never
asked for or could have expected. We merely got to walk on the dry
Here's a look at God's graces that were going on behind the scenes of the rally:
- Two weeks before the event, we took our letter of approval to the
Haitian National Police. When we tried to confirm the location and
security, they pointed out that our letter was inadvertently dated the event for January 12, 2010 … instead of 2011.
The letter, which took two months to obtain in the first place, was
null and void with only two weeks to go. So we called the mayor of
Port-au-Prince. By God’s grace, he answered our phone call and provided
us with a new document that same day.
- We originally intended to broadcast the service on a few Haitian television stations. But, right before the event, the networks raised their prices and were asking for double the usual rates.
The one group that we were able to finalize an agreement with was Tele
Ginen, who historically has avoided Christian programs. As for the other
stations, we decided not to hire them. They ended up airing the service
anyway … for free.
- Our shipping container of sound equipment shipped and cleared customs in four weeks – a record for CHC. That equipment has since been donated to Haitian churches.
- The day before the event, we showed up at 5 a.m. at the intersection
to set up the stage and were greeted with a strange sight: there was already a stage in place.
It turned out that the government had set up a platform in the same
intersection for their memorial service which was to be held later. In
the end, they allowed us to use their stage and equipment, saving us
thousands of dollars and improving our quality.
Alabanza, above, is a famous Haitian gospel band who left Haiti six
years ago and had been unable to return to their country. The group,
along with many Haitian churches, had been waiting for an opportunity to
return. This worship service was their first time back in Haiti,
both individually and as a group. The crowd knew and sang along with
every word. This was more than just a performance; it was a reunion and
Moreover, this was a service for the Haitian people by the Haitian people. Leading from behind
meant Haitian leaders deciding, Haitian volunteers serving, Haitian
bands performing, and Haitian pastors speaking. Twelve pastors came
together to work on this service, representing over 3,000 churches. They
met in small groups with churches all over Port-au-Prince and Léogâne
to cast the vision for this event. Radio Lumière held interviews and prayer meetings over the radio.
Because of their leadership in it all, they could hold an event like
this again without CHC. In fact, after eavesdropping on a few pastors
discussing the idea of holding the Anniversary Rally as an annual event,
I pray they do.
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask
or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in
the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and
ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
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