One alum’s journey in Haiti
On January 12, Marc Williams ’07, a youth pastor, teacher and orphanage worker, was spending an ordinary day in his family’s home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
At 4:53 p.m., his life and the lives of all Haitians were rocked by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that caused almost incomprehensible devastation. Marc and his family were safe, but they, along with millions of Haitians and others worldwide, have been personally touched by the loss and tragedy.
Here are excerpts of his personal journey and ministry in post-earthquake Haiti, as shared through his updates on Facebook and in chapel with UNW students on January 31. Comments from his chapel talk are noted as such; dated entries are from his group, Marc Williams Haiti Earthquake Update on facebook.com.
“It got very violent very fast.”
I was in my living room, and I have this group that I send e-mails out to every day with Scriptures or quotes from books and stuff. I actually wrote in the subject line, “Are you going to heaven?” And then boom—everything started to rumble. Very surreal. It got very violent very fast.
My mom was sitting on the couch and she yelled “Get out!” So I ran out. I couldn’t run how I wanted to run. It was like putting a board on the ocean with all the waves hitting it and trying to walk. I kept thinking, “It’s going to end right away.”
“Seeing the look of absolute hopelessness and despair in everyone’s eyes was the hardest thing.”
God’s power and love will shine through this, but the devastation is unreal. My sister [Amber Williams ’04] and I took a walk around the streets for a couple miles. We went up the main road called “Delmas” there. The streets were packed with people rushing up and down. So many buildings have collapsed—pancaked down.
It’s hard to believe even looking at it. And there were definitely bodies in the streets, some covered, some not—a lot of injured people. But mostly, seeing the look of absolute hopelessness and despair in everyone’s eyes was the hardest thing.
One of my students died; a 6th grade girl named Coralie Chevry. She said hi to me and my mom every morning before school as we walked past her, and I was her math teacher every day. She was a nice girl with a much-defined personality...but now she’s gone. Her house collapsed on her.
Everything is so different. My school now looks like a military base. More walls are down, but a lot of the rubble seems to be cleared, at least on the roads we were on.
This morning another aftershock hit. It was a 4.7. As I’m sitting and typing this, another one hit and caused me to run outside. SO many people are sleeping in the dirt still. A church started this tent drive. It is VERY much needed. Please tell your churches about it if you are able.
I have a new, nice big crack in my bedroom. I doubt I’ll be sleeping inside for a while.
3 months later, I began having dreams and flashbacks again. And I was talking to other people who lived through the earthquake experience, and many of them had/have the same thing.
“He said he went from the poorest man in the world to the richest.”
I know this family really well. They are a very spiritual and godly family. I know God protected them and led them out. The father of the family heard the building collapsed with his family inside and he went over there thinking that he was going to have to dig out their bodies. But instead he found them alive. He said he went from the poorest man in the world to the richest.
I visited a certain family today. They sleep outside, with all five people all on one mattress. They have nothing. When we got to their place, all they had was a mattress…and guess what? They put on a clean sheet and invited us to sit on the mattress…THE ONLY THING THEY HAD TO OFFER. When people who have nothing are still giving everything, it really humbles you. It was a great day.
I went to visit the Senterra family again today after church. I felt like royalty. They own one chair. One. That’s it. Their mother kept asking me to sit down but also said that her chair was “not good.” But they got that chair out—Gigi folded it down and put it in the shade and Izyanna got a rag and wiped the dust off of it. The girls treated it like a throne. I’m not exaggerating at all.
Count Your Blessings
“There’s more life here than ever before.”
Probably the biggest example of love and of crying out to God was at 4:45 one morning. Another big tremor hit and after it settled down, all these people in the ravine got together and started singing. And their choice of songs is what amazed me: “Count Your Many Blessings” and “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.” That’s something I will never forget.
There’s more life here than ever before. There’s a spiritual urgency among the people that I’ve never seen or felt before.
From the rooftop I could hear three different groups praying and singing this morning.
“Their interest is definitely growing...”
Through this earthquake experience, I’ve been reading the book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan and I absolutely LOVE it!! I really want to do a small group book study on this book with some of my youth group kids. So, here’s where you can help. There’s no way I can buy enough books. I’d say I need about 20–25 books to start off.
There was SUCH an awesome response to the Crazy Love books!! I just got them! I’m going to be starting that group right away.
The book study on Crazy Love is going really well. First off, the kids are hungry to “do something” since most of them are not in school. I would say about 35 total have participated and have a copy of the book. Their interest is definitely growing, so thank you for all who were able to give books. We’re starting chapter 4 today.
“I can trust Him for the now.”
Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has prayed for and given to me, because I wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things that I have done.
In my life, I used to look years down the road to the future to the things I wanted to do or hoped to accomplish. But now, more and more, I find myself just focusing on what is at hand. Living in the now. I can’t trust God for whatever is going to happen 5 years down the road because I’m not there yet. But I can trust Him for the now.
Sometimes I feel like I’m going to wake up and it will be January 12th and everything will be back to normal....
Keep following Marc's story on Facebook. Search for Marc Williams Haiti Earthquake Update