Haiti (MNN) — Two years ago this Thursday, Haiti was rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, leaving hundreds of thousands dead.
Since that fateful day, success and bereavement, spiritual joy and questioning, health and sickness have all swept in and out of the lives of Haitians.
In a recent interview with Mission Network News, Mark Lewis–Crisis Response director with TouchGlobal, the relief branch of the Evangelical Free Church of America–was able to reflect back on the progress that has been made over the last two years in Haiti, as well as look ahead to the years of recovery still ahead.
In the days directly following the disaster, says Lewis, the EFCA was able to respond with immediate aid, including water, food, and temporary shelter. That immediate phase didn't last long, though. TouchGlobal knew they wanted to stay in Haiti long-term and quickly started working toward that end.
One of the biggest projects the ministry tackled was the creation of housing. "We were able to complete a project with some partners and got just under 1,000 transitional homes set up," says Lewis.
Working in conjunction with a number of partners, TouchGlobal was able to help rebuild a clinic, begin a community health evangelism program, provide clean water solutions, embark in teacher training, and begin building church leadership.
It's an extremely short version of what the ministry was able to accomplish in two years. No amount of description can explain the relationships built, the lives given new hope, or the joy of those meeting Christ for the first time. Much headway has been made.
So where is Haiti now? Nearly fixed? Lewis says, "Hardly."
"There are still about half a million people living in some type of very temporary shelter. That number's down from like a million and a half," notes Lewis.
Progress to be certain, but more to go. Fear is still present throughout the nation, and Lewis says many middle class Haitians he has met are still far from obtaining permanent housing as they knew it before January 12, 2010.
"The idea of actually rebuilding back to a brick-and-mortar or concrete type of structure comparable to what they had prior to the earthquake just seems like that's going to be a decade away for so many."
Lewis adds that debris removal, which has been a long and drawn out process, is only about half way to completion.
Although the physical state of Haiti as a whole may not be back to what we might think of as standard, the spiritual realm in Haiti continues to transform.
"There was a huge response after the earthquake with many, many people coming to faith, and many of them have stayed with their local church," says Lewis. "But that's provided a big challenge to the local churches in the areas of discipleship and leadership development."
That's one of three areas that TouchGlobal hopes to address long-term: discipleship and leadership development. TouchGlobal wants to come alongside the indigenous church to help train it to best reach its people.
Looking ahead, the two other areas TouchGlobal plans to focus on permanently are education and community health evangelism. Both education and health are vital to the recovery and growth of the nation. More importantly, both will serve as vehicles to share the Gospel.
In the months and years to come, TouchGlobal needs people to pray for Haiti as well as to volunteer to go the country to help with teacher training and other projects. To learn about all of the ways you can get involved with Kingdom work in Haiti, visit touchglobal.org/Haiti.