Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dr. Hubert Morquette story

Teri and I included this (in link form) in our support letter. I think all of us should read it as it gives excellent background to the country of Haiti. This is from the World Relief website when Hubert was associated with them.

Fighting for Haiti:Dr. Hubert Morquette, Country Director, World Relief Haiti

In the face of trials and tribulations, Hubert Morquette has emerged with determination and a vision for his countrymen. Born into a prosperous Haitian family, Hubert’s early boyhood memories are of a nice home, plenty of food and carefree living.

But that changed in 1964 when henchmen of the Duvalier regime burst into the Morquette home and dragged away Hubert’s father. It was the last time Hubert saw his dad. As a lawyer and a teacher, he was considered a political rival. Years later, when political prisoners were released, Hubert held out a thin hope of seeing his father again. But that never happened. To this day, he does not know his father’s fate.

After his father’s abduction, the Morquette family struggled to make ends meet. The family moved into a one-room house and lost all their furniture except the beds. “Sometimes my shoes were torn and I had to put board into the soles to fix them,” Hubert recalls. “I remember coming home from school and looking to see if there was any lunch. More often than not, we went hungry.”

The 59-year-old medical doctor reflects: “My story enables me to understand the Apostle Paul when he said, ‘I have known how to be in abundance and how to be in need’.”

Hubert studied hard, eventually going to medical school, training in Paris, France, and then returning to his native land. In coming back to Haiti, he has done the opposite of what many of his countrymen dream of doing. “Haitians dream of escape,” he says. “If you look at Haitian paintings, many of them depict the ocean. The ocean represents escape… liberty. For Haitians, the outside world is paradise; Haiti is hell.”

Although Haitians in general have a very low self-esteem, they are a resourceful people, inventive and quick to adapt to survive. “One of the values we carry is generosity,” Hubert says. “We are generous by nature and we have a spirit of sharing, especially with foreigners. I would say that Haitians even have a love for foreigners. While other former European colonies harbor bitterness towards white people, Haitians do not.”

Haitian society is largely fatalistic, Hubert says. “Haitians have a lot of hope. That’s why you see so much lottery because people think they can go to bed poor and wake up rich. People think that if they dream about a number it will make them rich. The saying ‘where there’s life, there’s hope’ is understood by Haiti’s people.”

However, there is a tendency towards irresponsibility in the Haitian culture, fed by a prevalent belief that misdeeds can be blamed on a ‘bad spirit.’ The result is that people frequently do not accept responsibility for their behaviors.

“Ask a Haitian: ‘What do you think you’ll be doing in five years?’ and he will laugh,” Hubert continues. “Our people do not think about tomorrow; we do not plan for the future; we live from day to day. We are a people in survival mode.”

He continues: “The concept that is most prevalent now is survival at all costs. There is no respect, because the poor have been taught to get what they can, however they can… by cheating, stealing, begging. Our society has been built on hatred. I ask, ‘Where is the Church?’ The Church in Haiti must stand for true justice.”

The Influence of Voodoo
Voodoo is a pervasive evil that permeates Haitian society at all levels. Frequently misrepresented in the West, voodoo is misunderstood by many Christians in the U.S. and often viewed as a bizarre fringe cult. In reality, voodoo is a dominant spiritual force.

“Many Haitians say: ‘Voodoo is our culture… we should not speak badly about it, or our ancestors’,” Hubert says. “I tell you plainly: voodoo is very real. It is not a game.”
“Unfortunately, voodoo thinking is invading Christianity in general and even getting into the evangelical Church,” he continues. “This is because churches are moved more by the numbers of converts than by true discipling. Jesus said, ‘Go… and teach them.’ We are seeing lots of conversions but there is very little solid teaching. If there is a weakness in the Church in Haiti, our weakness is that we do not make true disciples because we lack theological training. We are told that 42 percent of Haitians call themselves evangelical Christians – but it doesn’t seem to be having much impact on our society. It is time for us to make a real difference.”

World Relief has a role to play in equipping church leaders, he says. “I believe the Church is poised to transform Haiti, but our pastors and leaders must build integrity and live sanctified lives.”

Serving the Most Vulnerable
Extreme poverty leaves many Haitian girls and women – including those in the Church – highly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. “This is a huge challenge for the Church in Haiti,” Hubert says. “Many of our young girls enter into ‘survival prostitution’. Their biggest challenge is food.”

Hubert explains: “Let’s say that a Christian girl does not eat for a day. She is hungry but she will survive. However, the next day, she has nothing to eat. Now, she has gone two days without food. A married man asks her, ‘Can I take you to a restaurant?’ She will not say ‘no.’ The next day, he offers to buy her clothes… a nice dress. Do you think she will say ‘no’? Before long, she is his mistress. She has become dependent on him for food and clothing. This happens all the time in Haiti.

“You see, these social challenges are also spiritual challenges,” Hubert points out. “Our problems in Haiti are interlinked.”

The Begging Dilemma
An outstretched hand is a way of life for many in Haiti… a sign of being in ‘survival mode.’ At the same spot in Port-au-Prince each day, a girl, about 18 years old, stands and begs. Some would view this young woman with pity. But Hubert has a different perspective.

“Pity is condescension. The true Christian response is compassion and love,” he says. “Take this girl… she is young, pretty and full of energy. She has no reason to beg. When you are poor, you can still have dignity. By begging, a person gives away his or her last shred of dignity. Your dignity is something that nothing should take away… not even poverty.”

Hubert says that those who give handouts to beggars are often seeking to cushion their own conscience, rather than seeking a constructive way to help. “You feel good for a day; you will sleep well tonight – but has it made any real difference?” he asks.

Keys to Lasting Change
After years of political turmoil, dictatorships and unrest, Haiti needs a period of peace and stability in order to achieve a degree of prosperity, Hubert says. He points out the country’s natural beauty, its tourism potential, and the opportunities for investment if only stable government were in place. “Haitians are scattered throughout the world,” he says. “I dream of what could be if Haitians returned to invest in their country. I think that would be a miracle.
“The Church in Haiti must become true ‘salt’ in our society. Elijah told the people: ‘Do not waver… if God, choose God; if Baal, choose him…’ I believe that God is waiting for us – the Church in Haiti – to do our part.”

Hubert says the Church in America has a pivotal role in the restoration of the Haitian people and the edification of the Haitian Church.

“There is only one Church – the Church built by Jesus,” he says. “The Church in America is us. We are them. We ask not just for the Church in America to share its wealth, but the resources of teaching and educating that we so badly need. We need you to share your knowledge with us. We need leadership training. Our pastors need to grow in sound doctrine and knowledge of the Scriptures. Our youth need to meet American youth and hear about their struggles to remain abstinent and pure.”

He adds: “I have watched a rich, white American woman sit in the home of a poor, black Haitian woman in the slums of Port-au-Prince. On the surface, it seems they are too far apart in every way to connect. The socio-economic gulf seems too wide. But then the American woman begins to share how her husband had beaten and abused her. The Haitian woman looked at her with wide eyes: ‘You, too!’ she exclaimed. Through tears, the gulf was suddenly no longer there. Poor black and rich white were on the same level. They could comfort and encourage each other. This is love. This is compassion. This is the Church in action.”