Hello friends, family & supporters
I write to you today as I sit at home with my family in the US. The series of events that have led to this moment are surrounded by God’s grace, protection and divine intervention. Friday of last week, myself and our summer intern were in Port Au Prince picking up a wire when we were caught in one of the worst parts of a protest. We were inside a grocery store when the tires began to be burned. Within 15 minutes the sky burned black from several other zones in the capitol. What first began as burning tires and blockades quickly turned into looting and destruction of many businesses all over Port Au Prince. Hours later we managed to escape after two failed attempts. The first attempt was by vehicle and we were surrounded by angry protesters with rocks. The second attempt we traveled by foot and were surrounded by over 50 men who argued over whether or not to let us go. Minutes after they forced us back inside the gates, rounds of gunfire went off for 15 minutes straight. We hid behind a wall and took cover while the shots rang out. The business across the street was being attacked. Today that business has no merchandise left and was stripped bare and destroyed. Our third attempt, we were led to safety in between gunfire by a protester and two friends that risked their lives to rescue us. While we ran there were many men threatening to end our lives. One specifically stopped me in a trench and told me he would kill me. By the grace of God, my Haitian friend stepped in between us and replied, “Then you will kill me first”. We managed to escape, but these moments were the most terrifying moments I have ever experienced. BUT GOD, in His faithfulness, took care of His children and put a hedge of protection around us as we went directly through a mob of angry protesters and several barricades.
There may be many headlines you will read about the destruction and violence of Haiti, but I am here to tell you that without the loyal bravery, the generosity and the unmeasured amounts of love from Haitians, things most certainly could have had a different ending. There is a small percentage of people who are causing these protests out of 10 million people in Haiti. What you don’t see in headlines is how many people were protected by their Haitian community and the people that went directly into danger to save those they loved. My neighbors, two other American missionaries, were stuck 3 villages away when the riots began. They made a call and within minutes, 6 men came to aid them. Three men sat on the front bumper of the truck with machetes while three were clinging to the back. They were “hemmed in behind and before…” by Haitians that God used to save them. I read a story from a fellow missionary who works in emergencies on an ambulance. She was stuck in a mob outside of hotel where cars were being burned. Her MAID and GROUNDSKEEPER stepped into the middle of the mob to protect her and make sure she was okay. Our head of maintenance, Awoyo, made it through 15+ barricades to my house in the middle of the riots when he heard I was stuck in the capitol. Simply because he wanted to make sure my house was okay and my dogs had food and water. And last but not least, when I was stuck inside a grocery store parking lot while men began to make threats and get violent, my two friends Kensley and Amos were a half a mile away and they ran through barricades, bartered with protestors and shielded me while we ran for cover through trenches and riverbeds. John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. I experienced that specific love over the last week and it has completely changed me and my perspective of bravery. If anything it pushes me to be braver and more self-sacrificing. More than anything, I fell more in love with the country that stole my heart over four years ago.
Many of you have reached out with how you can help and support us in this difficult time. I am overwhelmed by the amount of encouraging messages and emails. THANK YOU. You’re prayers and love have been felt. On a practical side, this emergency situation did not pass without taking an emotional, physical and monetary toll on myself, our summer intern and our staff. Below are some ways you can help meet needs and support us in this time:
- Will you pray for Haiti, our staff, & our ministry to be safe during the weeks ahead?
- Will you pray for the political unrest to be resolved quickly and peacefully?
- Will you consider bridging the gap for the expenses caused by the emergency situation?
- Will you consider donating to my return home so that I can rest without worry of living, self care, and counseling expenses?
If so, click DONATE and our partners at Storehouse Mission Support can help you do just that. It would certainly help ease the stress as we move forward.
I truly believe God is continuing to breathe NEW LIFE into the darkest situations and I anxiously wait to see what beauty will spring up from the ashes. I am already seeing the ways that He is using traumatic moments for His glory. As I remain in the states, I will be taking some time to process and recuperate from the events of this past week. They have most definitely taken a toll and my heart is broken for the destruction that has taken place and the people it will ultimately effect. My time is NOT over in Haiti. I do not know when I will return, but I can promise you I will return stronger and more passionate than before. This experience will allow me to be able to look in the eyes of women that trauma has touched, and be able to say, “FEAR is a LIAR and has no place here. I am living proof that it is possible to rise up out of fear and walk with strength and confidence again”. And with time and the love of the community around me, that is EXACTLY what I will do.
Our Haitian staff are keeping this moving on the ground for now and I am so proud of their willingness to take ownership of the ministry we are passionate about. And as always, as a team, we will continue the fight for restoration, freedom & NEW LIFE in broken, abused & sexually exploited women in Haiti.
(All photos were taken by other people stuck within the capitol. We do not take credit for them)
Salem Ann Hicks
Founder & Executive Director