Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Haitian Slavery

As many of you may know, I spent one week in Haiti on a missions trip, and God continues to remind me of Haiti through a hurricane and even a blog post by a man I respect - John Piper.

This post shares a quotation from a book on child slavery in Haiti. You can read the section below, but I want to take a moment to comment on the final statistic of the quote. The writer states that 400,000 children are child-slaves (restavéks - the Creole term) in Haiti. That number to me is almost unfathomable!

It's unfathomable for many reasons:

1. Haiti, as a nation, largely has its roots in slavery. Here is a country that has never truly understood how to live like free people and even though they became free themselves, they are now following the same pursuits as their persecutors of ages past. (By the way, this can be an example for Christians of how we are freed slaves. We no longer have to follow the pursuit of sin, but our flesh still wages war on us and we so often continue to go to the past instead of realizing and embracing our total freedom in Christ.)

2. The population of Haiti is only 8.3 million. So, about 5% of the population of Haiti are slaves. If you look at other estimates, that would be about 10% of all children. And, if you take the 2002 number of 400,000, that is roughly half the population of Cap Haitien - which is the second largest city in all of Haiti. It is also ten times the population of Holland, MI. This slavery is sin - against the very nature of God and I pray that it disgusts us all and leads us to some type of action - no matter how "small" it may be.

Honestly, I don't know what a full solution to this problem would look like, but I definitely hope that we would be praying for this situation. This past weekend I watched (for the first time) the movie Amazing Grace, and I pray that Christians around the world would stand up against these injustices in a way that glorifies God. Would you pray about this situation in Haiti and be open to how God moves in your heart?

For more information, read this commend from the Desiring God Blog:

He [Doug Nichols] writes: “Let me share a few paragraphs from the recent book A Crime So Monstrous, by Benjamin Skinner:

…[Slaves] are everywhere. Assuming that this is your
first trip to Haiti, you won't be able to identify them. But to a
lower-middle-class Haitian, their status is 'written in blood.' Some
are as young as three or four years old. But they'll always be the
small ones, even if they're older. The average fifteen-year-old child
slave is 1.5 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than the average free
fifteen-year-old. They may have burns from cooking for their overseer's
family over an open fire; or scars from beatings, sometimes in public,
with the martinet, electrical cables, or wood switches. They wear
faded, outsized castoffs, and walk barefoot, in sandals or, if they are
lucky, oversized shoes...

[Y]ou may see their tiny necks and delicate skulls
straining as they tote five-gallon buckets of water on their heads
while navigating broken glass and shattered roads.

These are the restavéks, the 'stay-withs,' (child slaves) as they are
euphemistically known in Creole. Forced, unpaid, they work from before
dawn until deep night. The violence in their lives is unyielding. These
are the children who won't look into your eyes. (-6)

Nationwide the number of restavéks ballooned from 109,000
in 1992 to 300,000, or one in ten Haitian children, in 1998, to 400,000
in 2002."

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