Paulsen, in Haiti, Encourages Adventists
Continued humanitarian response needed, he says
BY LIBNA STEVENS, news coordinator, Inter-American Division, reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti
eventh-day Adventist world church president Jan Paulsen commended the resilience of Haitian Adventists during a mid-April visit, and urged for a continued humanitarian response to the devastating earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation earlier this year.
Accompanied by Inter-American regional church administrators, Paulsen ministered to and showed solidarity with church membership in Haiti during his one-day visit April 17.
About 230,000 Haitians were killed by the January 12 quake; among them were 600 Adventists.
ON THE SCENE: Adventist world church president Jan Paulsen visits Haiti April 17 with local church officials, three months after an earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation.
Thousands more were left homeless, and dozens of churches and schools were flattened.
“It is with very mixed emotions that I stand here with you,” Paulsen told an audience of more than 1,000 at an Adventist church where 22 choir members were crushed to death when the quake hit.
“I am so pleased to see your resilience,” he said, “yet with a sad feeling, as we are standing on sacred ground; not because it is a house of worship, but because so many died here.”
The Adventist leader prayed for the church and family members of those who died in the tragedy.
In what marked his first visit to Haiti, Paulsen also visited several churches, as well as the campus of Haitian Adventist University, where nearly 20,000 people displaced by the quake still take shelter. He also met with staff at the Adventist Hospital of Haiti, and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) warehouse in Haiti and commended their relief efforts.
Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, said he was pleased that Paulsen and regional administrative presidents visited the country. “The church and the people of Haiti should know about the caring spirit of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Leito said.
Later, addressing more than 2,000 church leaders and members at the Adventist Bible Auditorium, Paulsen said he was impressed by the response to the earthquake from church administrative regions in Inter-America.
“I also know what the rest of the world family is doing and that it is continuing to help you and will continue to for months,” Paulsen said.
“I know of no event in recent history which has done more to consolidate the sense of family inside the global Adventist Church towards our church in any one nation like the earthquake in Haiti has,” he added.
“I am amazed by the fact that so many of our members here in Haiti care for clearing buildings and preparing houses of worship before they begin to think about having a house for themselves,” Paulsen said. “I am truly proud to be a member of this church.”
ATTENTIVE HEARERS: Haitian Adventists listen as Paulsen commends their response to the January 12 earthquake.
It’s not knowledge but behavior that matters most, Paulsen said during Sabbath worship services, attended by thousands and broadcast by radio to churches across the nation.
“Spirituality is defined by how we behave. Conduct defines or it denies all spirituality,” the Adventist leader said. “Haiti is a nation in need and each one of you is surrounded by someone in need, so the service that you provide as a Seventh-day Adventist in reaching out to people in need is affirmed by God.”
Audience member Guirlene Louis said Paulsen’s message spoke to her. “It is so wonderful to have the president of our world church visit us and remind us that we must help those in need,” said Louis, an Adventist who lost her home along with several family members.
“The message went straight to
my heart,” added Jean Claude Lallemand, a teacher on the campus of Haitian Adventist University. “We must continue to come closer to each other.”