Dwindling Hope in Haiti

The devastating earthquake left more than 100,000 people dead and thousands more trapped in collapsed buildings.

Two men from an orphan care organization were among them. One was found alive amidst the rubble; the other is still missing.

BY: Steve Rabey


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Earlier this week, national news shows featured shots of a Haitian boy being pulled from the rubble. People called it a miracle. The boy stretched out his arms in a seeming gesture of love and thanks to his helpers, to God, and to the heavens above.

But stories about such late-stage recoveries are growing ever more rare. I am writing this on Thursday, and Hames has not been reached. His wife has stopped giving interviews.

This story has held special resonance for me because I once worked for Compassion International as an editor for their magazine. Like Hames, I used the Hotel Montana as a respite from the difficult work of serving in Port-au-Prince.

Haiti's heat, smell, squalor, poverty, desperation and sorrow could be overwhelming. But then, in the midst of the horrors, you would suddenly discover a mini-Mother Teresa working to extend God's love and mercies to the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick.

I remember spending an hour with a saintly nurse from Switzerland who ran a health clinic for mothers and children in the heart of Port-au-Prince. I learned from others that this woman had been rejected by her parents—and written out of their sizable will—when she informed them that God had called her to Haiti, and she would follow that call.

I rested for a moment in one of hallways of her clinic. The tile on the floor was cool and immaculate. When I went back out in the bustling streets, the chaos and confusion was oppressive, disorienting.

That's part of why the Hotel Montana was so comforting. Sitting on the patio where Woolley and Hames were photographed, you could see enough of the city to recall where you were and what you were doing there. But some days I didn't want to leave the Montana. I wanted to stay on that patio, have another bite of the wonderful tropical fruits they served for breakfast, and keep my distance from the city.

There were days when I asked myself if the work was worth it. Were the results one could witness in Haiti equivalent to the resources of time, work and money that had been poured into this desperate place?

I remember feeling somewhat guilty about asking this question. But I can certainly forgive Renee Hames if she asks a similar question herself.

Kelly Williams is pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, where the Hames family attends. Last Sunday, Williams taught on Romans 1:16-17, a famous Bible passage about how "the righteous will live by faith.

"One of the concepts I'm addressing is that faith begins when answers end," says Williams. "I think true righteousness can be seen in the kind of faith walk that says, 'I don't know what God is doing, but I am going to trust him anyway."

As Williams prepares each Sunday's sermon, he asks people to respond to questions via Facebook, and he anticipates addressing some member comments about the Haiti tragedy this Sunday. But when it comes to counseling members of his flock about how to deal with the existential questions that arise in the face of tragedies like this one, he affirms

"It's not our job to speculate about whether David is dead or alive," he says. "Our job is to support Renee and pray for a miracle, until God reveals otherwise. That's our game plan.

"Meanwhile, we must all make a choice. Are we going to trust the Lord in the face of such tragedies? And I think that's what faith in God is all about."

Family of Missing Man
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Kenyans playing with video camera

David Hames with Kenyan Children.