Learning From Haitians About Hope

by | May 6, 2021 | Founder Series

In this installment of the Founder Series Blog, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon reflects on an experience where her personal understanding of faith and hope deepened and grew, as she witnessed the power of hope in what she had perceived to be a hopeless situation…

I arrived on the Island of La Gonâve, Haiti, after a very long trip via plane, truck, and boat. I was ready for the typical cold shower and fall in bed. But when I disembarked from the small motorboat, I heard all kinds of sounds and a large crowd assembled on the beach.

Soon I learned the tragedy that had happened in a large ferry crossing from the mainland of Haiti to the Island. Yes, the ferry had tipped, and hundreds and hundreds of people were dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. I stood there and no longer thought of my tiredness but entered the pain of those who would find they had lost their loved ones and the joys of those who found their loved ones had survived. It was a mix of loud wailing and loud rejoicing.

I well remember hearing one mother weeping frantically as she was brought to shore. She told of holding on tightly to her two children as they tried to float to some type of safety. Then, suddenly, the small child on her left was hit by a wave and their handhold was broken. Her child, lost to the depths of the sea. I, too, stood there in tears as pain in my heart and body became almost more than I could bear. I immediately imagined myself in the place of these mothers, thinking of my own four children.

The night was hours and hours. Later I met with some of the Americans who were working on the Island and they too were weeping as some of these folks were their best friends. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, I got the cold shower and stumbled into bed.

A ferry crosses the sea from La Gonave to the Haitian mainland

A ferry crossing over from La Gonâve to the Haitian mainland

The next morning, I went to the local Haitian Church. Normally, this church is filled to capacity. Everyone dressed in their Sunday best. Women with the most beautiful hats, men in their suits and ties, and little girls and little boys dressed as their adults. The service is abuzz with excitement, love, warmth, and welcome to all.

But this morning, the church was only partially filled. Yes, people had dressed as normal, but there was not the common vibrancy. The mood was somber. The pastor stood and explained that the people missing on that morning were out burying their dead. Then I realized how much this accident had impacted even this local church. I must admit I was sitting there thinking, “Lord. Where is your mercy? The people are already suffering. Are you present?” My doubts and faith shriveled in the midst of this.

The pastor then announced, “The Men’s Choir is going to sing our testimony about this Tragedy.”

In perfect a cappella harmony, the men began singing in Creole—and suddenly I caught the tune and knew the song in English….

“No One ever cared for me like Jesus, There’s no other friend so kind as He… Every Day He comes to me with new assurance; More and more I understand His words of love.” (Charles Weigle, 1932)

As they continued to sing this old hymn my heart grew in hope with each verse and chorus.

I better understood the words from Hebrews 6:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Today, World Hope International is working in 20+ countries around the world, including Haiti, to provide those in need with opportunity, dignity, and hope so they can possess the tools for change in themselves, their family, and their community.

To support these efforts, you can make a gift to The Hope Fund, which allows us to respond where and when it matters and continue projects centered on clean water & energy, protection, global health, and social enterprises.