PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Before
the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti Jan. 12, Port-au-Prince neighborhood
Vallee de Bourdon was a beautiful place to live.
An otherworldly light filled
the hillside community when the setting sun angled its rays through the
surrounding lush trees. Like stadium seats, houses were stair-stepped up from
the riverbed below. Stairways leading from one level to the other functioned as
sidewalks on slopes too steep for roads.
Now, “… the neighborhood is
almost completely destroyed,” said Hubert Duchatelier, a Haitian Baptist and
father of five who has lived in Vallee de Bourdon for 13 years.
When the earthquake started,
Hubert was on his home’s flat rooftop. From there, he had a view of the whole
valley and saw the houses of his neighborhood shake and fall. When the quake
ended, all he could hear was wailing.
His family was unharmed. So
were his mother’s and sister’s households nearby. But his brother’s house, only
yards away from his own, collapsed on the family inside. The bodies of his
brother, Edgar, and four others are still buried beneath the rubble.
But Hubert is grateful that
so many others have survived, given that most of the houses covering the
hillside are only broken shells of concrete. Walls have collapsed, exposing
People continue to move
along the stairways, but few stop at any houses. Some people sought shelter in
other communities. Those who stayed have made do along the riverbed in
sheet-metal shacks that used to house their pigs. Though difficult to live in,
these leaky huts pose less of a threat than the houses if another earthquake
“We live like pigs here. I
can say that because it’s me,” said Hubert, pointing out the mud, burning trash
and wandering pigs. “This is not a way to live.”
After saving money for two
weeks, Hubert was able to move his wife, Marie, and their five children between
the ages of 2 and 12 out of their sheet-metal shack to a one-room house in
Marie’s hometown of Saint-Marc. Every day, Hubert uses public transportation to
travel nearly 46 miles from Saint-Marc to Port-au-Prince, where he works at the
Florida Baptist Convention’s Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d’Haiti (CMBH)
Hubert recently received a
theology degree from Haitian Baptist Theological Seminary after three years of
study. Before the earthquake, he led Bible studies in his home, gave
devotionals for his neighbors twice a day and shared the JESUS film along with International
Mission Board missionaries Mark and Peggy Rutledge. Sometimes he stood in
public and spoke against voodoo.
“I am not afraid of (voodoo),”
Hubert says. “When (people) talk about that, I take out my Bible and read Psalm
91 to them and I tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid, because God is your shelter.’”
Hubert will have to make a
new start — and find a bigger home — in Saint-Marc. But he has every intention
of continuing his ministry. He plans to speak out about his faith and share
devotions with his neighbors in his new community.
“You’re supposed to minister
where you are. I plan to do the same thing in Saint-Marc,” Hubert says. “After
this earthquake, if God saved your life, He saved it to continue His work.”
Haitians are interested in
God’s Word right now, Hubert says. They believe God spared their lives, and
they will listen carefully to people who talk about Him.
Hubert asks for people to
pray that his family will stay close to God.
“Tell the people in America to be
praying, because I am going to start a new work for God where my family is
now,” he says. “And for me to touch people’s hearts when they hear my teaching.
“And pray for me,” Hubert
adds. “For God to give me strength to continue His work in good and bad times.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Taylor
is a writer for the IMB in the Americas.)