Monday, January 18, 2010

Haitians' Faith Unshaken by Earthquake

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- The steeple clock at Port-au-Prince's St. Pierre Catholic Church is stopped at 4:53, the hour at which a devastating earthquake struck Haiti nearly one week ago.

The church gates were closed Sunday. The doors shuttered. But it seems Tuesday's quake has only strengthened the religious fervor many Haitians carry in their souls.

"A lot of people who never prayed or believed -- now they believe," said Cristina Bailey, a 24-year-old clerk.

In parks and backyards, anywhere a group gathers, the prayers of the Haitians can be heard. Last week, the call-and-response chanting and clapping that accompany those
prayers pierced the darkness of night and the pre-dawn hours -- sometimes as early as 4 a.m. The singing and praying was particularly intense in Champs de Mars plaza, where hundreds of people have taken refuge. But the scene was repeated throughout the city, with preachers on megaphones exhorting the faithful, who responded with lyrics like "O Lord, keep me close to you" and "Forgive me, Jesus."

Many preachers are telling followers not to lose faith, that God remains with them regardless of what's happened.

Most Haitians don't feel abandoned, Bailey said. "People don't blame Jesus for all these things," she said. "They have faith. They believe that Jesus saved them and are thankful for that."
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