RRT chaplain Phil Rhodes talks about his first impressions upon landing in Port-au-Prince. “It’s not what we saw, it’s what we smelled – the aroma of stagnant water – that will stay in my memory for a long time. The airport is somewhat distanced from the epicenter, so the farther we drove into the city, the more destruction we saw.”
Rhodes says that when he was asked to go to Haiti, he knew he had to go. “I was told that we would have the opportunity to minister to and pray with the many people that are dying. There is no reason on this side of heaven that I wouldn’t go. To bring the hope and Good News of Jesus Christ to people before they die is an honor.”
While Jack and Becca Dowling, the pair of RRT chaplains who have been in Haiti since the day after the earthquake, are ministering to those in the Baptist Haiti Mission hospital, Rhodes and his wife, Pam, have been concentrating on the displacement camps, which host thousands of people who have lost everything.
Of those people, there was one elderly couple in particular who stood out to him.
The man and woman appeared to be frail and weathered camping out on the side of the mountain. Phil and Pam were walking down the path and saw them. “We stopped and told them that we know Someone who loves them very much, and His name is Jesus,” said Phil. “The man said he didn’t know about Jesus, but would like to know more. After several minutes of sharing, they both invited Jesus Christ into their hearts. It was such a privilege to minister to that couple.”
“The people are hungry and thirsty to hear the good news,” continues Phil. “The Gospel has been very well-received here.”
Jack Munday, Director of the Rapid Response Team, agrees with Rhodes. “There is an unbelievable openness to the Gospel. The chaplains are making rounds, like a doctor would, ministering to people, whether or not they have accepted Christ.”
Munday continued, “Miracles are happening all over Haiti. I spoke with one gentleman who didn’t know if he was going to live and needed to have his leg amputated. He later accepted Christ. The presence of God’s spirit is on this place.”
While wonderful things are happening in the name of Christ, there is still devastation and brokenness that needs attention.
“There is mile after mile of sheer devastation. Streets are packed. There is still pain and suffering and heartache. Children are still unable to sleep through the night for fear of another earthquake. Effects are going to be a long time in recovery,” said Munday.
“Not only is this the time to share the gospel with people who don’t know Jesus. It’s time to see the power of the Gospel manifested in the lives of the believers.”