January 15, 2010

The Tragedy in Haiti

[Today in History: Haiti is the 1st country to recognze the newly founded Greek Democratic Republic -- January 15th, 1822. See second piece below. Yet the first piece is written by an Evangelical expert on the so-called "Prosperity Gospel" and how misconstrued they view the tragedy in Haiti which I found worth a read by all. - J.S.]

Tragedy in Haiti

By Hank Hanegraaff

The tragedy in Haiti is all over the news, and it is a stark reminder that life is paper-tissue thin. Last week I participated in the funeral of a friend, and each day the obituary column is replete with new fresh faces—some very young—and a reminder that the tragedy of life is not to die young, but to live a long robust life, and never use it in the service of the Master....

I’m also reminded of the fact that whenever these kinds of strategies strike, it seems that the Christian world once again receives a black eye - and often times this is a self-inflicted wound. I was absolutely chagrined when I walked into the studio just a few moments ago and saw the words of Pat Robertson. He is talking on his Christian Broadcasting Network 700 Club about something that happened a long time ago in Haiti, and he says: “People might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French…you know Napoleon the 3rd…and they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.’” And then says Pat Robertson, “True story. And so the Devil said, 'Okay, it's a deal’…But ever since they have been cursed by…one thing after another, desperately poor.”

Of course, that’s the Word of Faith mantra that if you suffer poverty, you’re under a curse. And Pat Robertson then goes on to talk about the Dominican Republic, which is prosperous. He contrasts between the part of the island of Hispaniola that is the Dominican Republic, which is the prosperous side, and Haiti, which is in desperate poverty, and reiterates it is the “same island.” The conclusion being that because the Dominican Republic didn’t make this pact with the Devil and Haiti did—allegedly at least according to legend—you have Haiti today suffering for the sins of their forefathers, who made a pact with the devil. Again this is a self-inflicted black eye on Christianity, because here is a prominent Christian leader communicating legendary information, and I might add, this is the same guy who said Ariel Sharon’s stroke was divine retribution for dividing God’s land, and Yitzhak Rabin’s murder was God’s retribution for signing the Oslo Peace Accords.

I can’t help it when I hear these Christian leaders pontificate in startling fashion of the words of Jesus Christ, who had a completely different take on things. For example, when speaking about those who perished when the tower of Siloam crashed down on them, Jesus said, “Do you think that they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you no.” I would much rather heed the words of Jesus Christ than the words of Pat Robertson. And this is a warning to all Christians. Don’t simply believe what the leaders are telling you. Test what they say in light of Scripture, and hold fast to that which is good.

We have no warrant whatsoever to suggest that the Haitians today dying in an earthquake are dying because of a pact that their forefathers made with the devil. This is not only absurd, it is deflective to the Gospel! It is much better that we get on our knees and pray for the Haitians and recognize that our lives are temporary. We live in a cursed creation, a fallen world, that one day will give way to the best of all worlds, a new Heaven and a new Earth, wherein dwells righteousness.

So those listening to the sound of my voice, should be into the word and the word into them, equipped to always be ready to give an answer, a reason for the hope that lies in you with gentleness and respect. Not like those who puff up their chest and say, “The reason I’m prosperous and the reason I’m not suffering is I didn’t make a pact with the devil.” The gospel is each one of us giving a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus Christ.

Greeks in Haiti Safe and Well

January 15, 2010

Eleven Greeks and the Belgian husband of a Greek woman who were in the Caribbean country of Haiti when a deadly earthquake struck earlier this week are safe and well, Greece’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Officials said that the Spanish presidency of the European Union was arranging for the 12 to be flown out of Port-au-Prince, where it is estimated that there could be more than 100,000 dead, by tomorrow morning. More details about the 12 were not made available and it was not clear if there are anymore Greeks on the island.

Greece said yesterday that it would donate 200,000 euros of emergency aid to Haiti. The Church of Greece’s Holy Synod expressed it support and said that collection trays would be passed around at all churches during Sunday services in order to raise money for the earthquake victims.

The Church also noted that Haiti was the first country to recognize Greece as an independent state in 1822.