THEY SUFFER IN FAITH …stories of the life transforming work of God among and through the people of Haiti
By April Perry
In 2006 April wrote a book entitled “THEY SUFFER IN FAITH…” which detailes her experiences providing medical care in the country of Haiti.
Click on the link below for reviews, information on the book and how to order on line or via snail mail (postal mail with invoice) .
Proceeds from the sales of the book go to provide scholarhsip for health care students in Haiti through Luke’s Mission.
Preview Chapter One
Hope in the Darkness
“Wednesday, May 2, 2001
It is hard to find beauty here. Our team leader assures us there is some and it will have to be in the people. It doesn’t appear to be anywhere else. Even my discriminating eye can find no wonders of God’s creation here as I look out on this desolate place.
It’s pretty amazing how quickly I have gone into the western version of a survival mode. My appearance, once somewhat important, has little consequence now. My main goal is to salvage as little comfort and relief from the heat as I can–it matters little what I look like in the process. Mascara, matching clothing, well coifed hair means nothing. And what I am feeling is only a fraction of what the Haitians must feel. A pink head band and a brown dress-who cares as long as it keeps the sweat out of my eyes.
I saw between 40 and 50 patients today. It was about mid day before I saw one who smiled and it so impressed me that I took her picture. The people here look so tired (many are anemic, some sickle cell), weary, and frequently in pain somewhere or the other.
Remy, my translator, was a real gift. He was quite capable and a true joy to be around. The work was physically (because of the heat,) mentally and emotionally exhausting. I was very tired at the end of the day.
God has not forsaken these people–I know that now, but He has asked them to bear a heavy burden for Him. Many people had problems our medicine could help for a time anyway. My most heart breaking moment today was telling a mother her 15 year old’s problems were all rooted in his lack of food. I asked the translator, Remy, to ask her if she had money to buy more food–the only thing he would not translate the whole day. I was wearing my ignorance. Of course she had no money for food. If she did, she would have bought it.
We gave him some analgesics, iron and vitamins, but that was all I could offer, except the love of Christ, our Savior. And I did my best to offer that. As I took Maggie’s suggestion to pray with every patient I saw, I was blessed. It was wearying but everyone said Oui, Oui.”
That is the journal entry for one of my first days in Haiti. As you can see, my outlook on the situation was pretty bleak. Our work takes us to an urban slum of Port au Prince, the capital city of Haiti. In it, there are 500,000 people living without electricity, any form of sanitation, access to clean water or health care. All of this within the confines of 4 square miles. Unfortunately this area has the distinction of being the poorest slum in the western hemisphere.
The road to the clinic had pot holes as big as our truck. It is not unusual to see several children bathing in these pot holes following a rain storm. It is obvious why skin diseases are one of the most prevalent things we treated. We dispense soap from the pharmacy because it is like a drug there.
Raw sewage runs in the street-thus the requirement by our team leader to not wear open shoes to the clinic. And to wash you hands after tying your shoes. How often do we do that in the United States?
Our clinic is only one of two to serve nearly half a million people. Some people travel, for days to arrive to see the “missionary doctors”. It doesn’t matter what level of health care provider one was, everyone was a “doktor blan”.
Situated less than 500 miles from the United States borders, who would believe this degree of poverty and need would exist so close to our own borders. Built on a land fill, houses in this area-and I use the term as loosely as one can- are made of used corrugated tin held up by sticks in each corner. Human waste is often disposed of by throwing it on the roofs. This slum has the distinction of being know as the poorest slum in the western hemisphere. Our outpatient clinic is only one of two available for the health care needs of the people of area.
However, even from the start I could see that the resources which were the most valuable to this small country, a country only about the size of our state of Maryland, are her human resources. If Haiti was to survive, it would be her people who would make that happen. And they have the resources to do just that but they won’t be able to do it alone.
In the center of this vast land fill which serves as a home to nearly a half a million people, is an oasis known as the Christ’s Church of the City. It is a complex surrounded by a 12 foot cement block wall with the typical Haitian security system-broken glass and/or razor wire embedded into concrete on the top blocks to prevent scaling of the wall. The gates were open frequently in our early work there.
Enclosed in this fortress like structure is a source of hope, the only one that many had in their entire lives. Behind the turquoise painted wall was a church which seated 3500 and most Sundays, until the last few months, was nearly full for at least one of the two services it held. There is also a school for 400 children ranging in ages from preschool to sixth grade. Our clinic building is the third building housed in this complex.
A simple concrete structure which had been upgraded over the years with sinks for running water, storage cabinets and shelving for the drugs located in the pharmacy as well as window air conditioners in two of the rooms, this building is the only access to medical care that many of the people in this slum had. In addition, when word reached the edges of the city and even the countryside that the American “doktor yo” (“doctors” in Haitian Kreyol) were coming, many people walk for hours to get there.
Our clinics are typically a week long. Usually on Sunday afternoon after church, before we do our regular clinics, we run a special clinic for the church leaders. These men and women don’t get much recognition for their work in the church so it is a little perk that they can come to the clinic first. Because most of them are healthy or don’t have serious health problems, it gives the team a chance to perfect their roles and for us to work out any bugs in our system prior to beginning a full week of clinics with the average Haitian patients we see, most of whom are pretty ill.
But the highlight of the week always was the two hour worship service in which we would participate on Sunday morning. Most of us couldn’t speak Haitian Kreyol, one of two officially languages in Haiti. French is the other and used nearly exclusively in schools, and places of business. However, Haitian Kreyol is the language of the people and the indigenous language of Haiti. Unfortunately is has come to be known as the language of the peasants, diminishing it of its beauty, simplicity, and removing it as a source of pride for most Haitians.
Regardless of the language in which people spoke or sang in the worship service at Christ’s Church of the City, communication isn’t a problem because the language of the Spirit transcends all others. We sing with the Haitians, and their prayer time is one of the most powerful worship experiences I have experienced in my lifetime.
The stories which follow in this book will begin to show the transforming work of God in my own life through my work in Haiti. But that is only the beginning of the story. The transformation continues.
I have traveled to Haiti many times leading medical teams and traveling alone for work with a small village in a rural plain for Luke’s Mission. I have come to see how repentance and service is the vehicle which God uses to begin to grow the character of Christ in my life. I have come to see how Jesus must have felt in many circumstances and why His teaching regarding the care of the poor and less fortunate took up so much of His teaching during His short three year ministry period.
Now, nine years later, my outlook is not bleak at all. It is with gratitude that I thank our Heavenly Father for the great privilege of working side by side with His precious children in Haiti.
This is a love story—a story of my love for the Haitian people, their love for me and the love of a God that will not let me go. You will see in the stories that follow how those loves are transforming me. As I walk with the people of Haiti, God continues to transform my life into the person that He created me to be. I pray that, as you read this story, He will transform you as well.