Break Every Chain
In a feeble attempt to package some major events that have impacted Haiti's growth and culture, I will over simplify for the sake of time and understanding (yours and mine). This is not to sweep under the rug, dismiss or ignore the pain, sacrifice and at times, tragic history that is Haiti's story. I recognize I am not the expert; I am still learning and acknowledge I will never fully understand the rich, complex culture of Haiti as a foreigner. I only want to bring to light a couple parts of her story to begin to fill in the color that has been erased (intentionally or not) from our US American history books and offer a different voice from major news stations trying to define Haiti's narrative.
I humbly submit my understandings below; praying to show you the plight and dignity of the people of Haiti with grace and truth.
1 January, 2019
The anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Haiti, the world's first black republic. We are reminded on this day of the chains of oppression and slavery Haiti proudly threw off of her two hundred and fifteen years ago. Though Haiti is an independent country, she is still bound in many chains.
In 1806, Haiti was diplomatically isolated. It had audaciously declared its independence two years before, after crushing the French army sent by Napoleon to re-enslave it.
But no country in the world recognized its independence. Certainly not France, which had just suffered a major blow to its fortunes and ego. Not Spain, which still had its slave-based colonial empire in the Caribbean and Latin America. Not Great Britain, worried over its plantations in Jamaica whose profits also depended on the brutal super-exploitation of enslaved Africans.
In return for "diplomatic recognition," France demanded repayment by the Republic of Haiti in claims over property lost through the Haitian Revolution, to the sum of $40 billion USD (as of 2010 with consideration to inflation.) The chain of debt plagued Haiti for generations. Finally, by 1947, Haiti payed off all the associated interest of the debt.
Even after the Haitian revolution ended slavery, there was substantial trade between the United States and Haiti. Haiti sold coffee, molasses, sugar, cotton, hides and so on, and bought dried cod, cloth, hardware and other bulk commodities. But Thomas Jefferson, the slave-owning, slave-selling president of the United States, was terrified by the successful slave rebellion and went so far as to call Toussaint Louverture's army "cannibals." Jefferson called upon Congress to abolish trade between the two countries. This decimated the Haitian economy, already weakened by twelve years of hard fighting and much destruction. (Thanks to Greg Dunkel for articulating the fine details! Read Haiti: A Slave Revolution.)
This is the beginning her journey.
Haiti has been riddled with political instability and corruption; from the self-proclaimed "Presidents for Life," Jean-Pierre Boyer (who signed the indemnity agreement with France) to Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier (who killed about 30,000 people who opposed him and his son, "Baby Doc"), to recent Presidents and government officials who basically stole over $2 billion USD dedicated to rebuilding the country and current elections where foreign countries manipulate results so it's favored candidates win (we're looking at you, United States.) Because of the meddling and corruption, International Mission for Monitoring Haitian Elections has been established.
Time to vote!
Haitians head to the polls to submit their votes for President of the Republic of Haiti.
This isn't meant to be a history lesson, however, it can be difficult to identify with the struggle of
chains of corruption and political instability
reclined on your couch, in a climate-controlled room, clicking through hundreds of channels with one hand in a bowl of popcorn and the other scrolling through your smartphone; I want to share more tangible insights so you can interrogate a different reality.
Even though she has thrown off the chains of slavery hundreds of years ago, Haiti is practically immobilized with chains of corruption, poverty, racism, human trafficking, greed, and hopelessness.
If you have turned on a contemporary Christian or gospel radio station recently- you've heard Tasha Cobbs Leonard belting out "Break Every Chain." It is the anthem of desperate people, not just of those living in developing countries, like Haiti. It is for people who recognize they are powerless and hopeless to overcome shame, guilt, addiction, or sin without the healing power of Jesus Christ, desperate for Him to break their chains of bondage.
There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain!
At the start of the year, I asked a friend if he and other Haitians made New Year's resolutions. He explained, "No - I do not. In the United States, you have the hope for a future. Here we do not have these wishes." Ouch! - another innocent question turned into a lesson of privilege I unknowingly took for granted, hope.
But these lyrics are not empty words, they are a promise! We have a power gifted to us, a power stronger than any problem, any fear, any doubt, any organization or any evil in this world! "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 The awesome power of God gives us hope and equips us when our feeble hearts cannot see a way past the obstacle.
There's an army rising up. There's an army rising up. There's an army rising up to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain!
There is a new energy pulsing through the country. Refusing to be chained anymore, the church is leading the way - demanding justice for all Haitians, and accountability of those who do not hold the best interest of the people in their hearts, demanding an end to the government's corruption. Haiti is crying, "Let's break the chains that hold us back and throw off the ropes that tie us down!" Psalm 2:3 NCV CONASPEH was a presence on the radio and television during the larger protests in November, urging citizens to fight the good fight, stand for justice and to do so peacefully.
Walk of Glory to the Eternal
CONASPEH (Bishops, pastors, congregations and staff) participated in a walk on January 1, from Port au Prince to
Carrefour (13 km.), to show community, solidarity and commitment against injustice of the Haitian people.
I hear the chains falling! I hear the chains falling!
When you come to Haiti, stand in the warm Caribbean sun, be still and listen to the sounds of Haiti surrounding you - listen deeply... past the crows of roosters, the many honking diesel trucks and women chattering at the market, past the sounds of children playing and roar of motorcycle engines zipping past you. If you keep listening, you can hear it. Softly swaying in the air hangs a distinct sound; the church is singing.
The apostle Paul tells us that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13
Haiti is calling.
Recently, there have been major drug and gun busts in the country, high officials being brought to trial for money laundering, positive movements towards infrastructure construction and continued peaceful protests against the injustice.
And so we thank our God for His precious grace, fresh mercies, intersession and unfailing love to not leave us in these chains - but through His power and calling on His Name - we can be free!
We are victorious in Jesus Christ! Listen now; can you hear them? Can you hear the chains falling?