SPECIAL HAITI EDITION
VOLUME 2, NO. 1   COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM




                                                   Haiti...
neighbors being neighbors
                                                         H  aiti fell as a nation years before t...
holding on: Haitian congregation perseveres




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first person: life and death in Haiti                                                                                     ...
BGR: Baptist partners in disaster relief                                                                                  ...
voodoo priest’s son leads other                                                                                           ...
‘no bottled answers’: Haitians ask
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the Silk Road has always
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Commission Stories Tabloid Vol2 No1
Commission Stories Tabloid Vol2 No1
Commission Stories Tabloid Vol2 No1
Commission Stories Tabloid Vol2 No1
Commission Stories Tabloid Vol2 No1
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Commission Stories Tabloid Vol2 No1

  1. 1. SPECIAL HAITI EDITION VOLUME 2, NO. 1 COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM Haiti’s moment of truth? Page 3 Inside: THE SILK ROAD Page 14
  2. 2. neighbors being neighbors H aiti fell as a nation years before the earthquake toppled its buildings into the streets. The country has long been the poorest nation in the Western Hemi- sphere. A look at a satellite image of the island of Hispaniola — which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic — shows an easily discernible boundary between the two. On the east side is the Dominican Re- public, lush and green; on the west, Haiti, barren and brown. Haiti is poor … grindingly poor. The earthquake simply added an exclamation point. As violent as the quake was — with the massive loss of prop- erty and more than 230,000 lives — poverty is still the worst form of violence Haitians face. Jesus talked a great deal about the poor and our relationship with them. Even His restatement of the Ten Commandments alludes to it. Loving your neighbor as yourself is a not-so-subtle reference to our tendency to divide people into “them” and “us” — for what is a stranger but a neighbor we have not yet met, despite CommissionStories differences and distance? Volume 2, No. 1 Yet out of great tragedy can come great opportunity. And Haiti offers such opportunity. In the following pages you will find stories of brothers and sisters in Christ who have responded to this crisis. You will find ways to respond personally through prayer and ac- tion. Both will challenge you. This is an opportunity that will not be realized in days or months, but in years. Many who read these pages will become involved in tangible ways. You will pray CommissionStories (commissionstories.com) is a publication of the for people you may never know. You will give without seeing the fruits of your giving. International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond, VA 23230. You will lug relief supplies up hillsides. You will work side by side with strangers — now The print version is published quarterly in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. neighbors — clearing rubble, raising walls. You will sit in a silence that transcends lan- The online version is published on demand throughout the year. MOUNTAIN OF DAMAGE: guage, holding a hand of sorrow. © IMB, Spring 2010 A hillside community shows the magnitude of the destruction when Through it, you will learn the desires of the Haitians’ hearts and find them similar to Subscriptions: CommissionStories is offered free. Churches are encouraged an earthquake struck Haiti Jan. 12. your own — to live in a house of their own among neighbors with whom they are at Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital peace and to provide enough for their children to thrive and have a chance at a tomor- to subscribe in bulk. Call (800) 999-3113, option 3, visit imbresources.org and largest city, was particularly row better than they had themselves. or e-mail imb@imb.org to subscribe. Former subscribers of To the Ends of the Earth hard hit. In that is great wealth … and through Christ it is something we have to give. and The Commission are requested to subscribe in order to continue receiving CommissionStories. — Bill Bangham, Periodicals Postage Paid at Richmond, VA. editor CommissionStories (USPS Pub. No.: 025436) Haiti’s moment of truth? commissionstories@imb.org CommissionStories (ISSN.2153-2958) To learn more, go to commissionstories.com. Postmaster: Send address change notices to IMB Contact Center, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230-0767 Print staff Bill Bangham editor Kate Gregory Kathy Flores editor, design Roy M. Burroughs O n Jan. 12, shortly before 5 p.m., life as the people of Haiti had known it crumbled. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake More than 230,000 people died, matching that of the 2004 South Asian tsunami, and thousands of others were injured or missing. editor, stories editor, photos Most of those who survived were left homeless and grieving over struck the capital of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, Anita Bowden, Sheryl Hash, Erich Bridges lost loved ones. Access to food and water was scarce at best. The Nancy Robertson global correspondent leaving piles of rubble and death in its wake. It had been contributing editors more than 200 years since an earthquake of that scale had country’s presidential palace was badly damaged. The Port-au- Beth Taylor editorial assistant rocked the city. With a fragile infrastructure, no building Prince airport shut down. As people scrambled for help, the cry for relief quickly spread. Consultants codes and houses stacked like lines of dominoes along Southern Baptists — along with relief agencies around the globe — From the cover: Dan Beatty hillsides, much of the city either collapsed or was badly heard that cry and responded. Haiti, a country marred for decades HELPING THE HELPLESS: A man carries a woman out of one of the tent cities in Port-au-Prince, intent on find- director, digital strategies damaged. by political strife, conflict and poverty, is in its darkest days — and ing medical help for her. They join a parade of tens of thousands seeking aid, food, shelter ... and hope. Mary Jane Welch interactive editor, commissionstories.com the world is watching. There are those who believe Haiti is on the PHOTO ROY M. BURROUGHS Gunther Friedrichs verge of a great revival. Only time will tell. senior producer, video 2 COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM SPRING 2010 3
  3. 3. holding on: Haitian congregation perseveres M ark Rutledge could barely speak as he tearfully stood with a handful of members from Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince. Along with their homes and many loved ones, members also lost their pastor, three other church lead- ers and most of their church building during the Jan. 12 earthquake. One church member told Rutledge, an International Mission Board missionary, “All our strong leaders in the church who were spiritual giants were prepared to go to the Lord, and those were the ones who were taken. “Now we’ve been given a chance to grow in our faith and become stronger, … pray for us in that process,” she said, while standing in the hollow shell of what was once their church. Rutledge has served in Haiti for more than 26 years. He and his wife, Peggy, were longtime friends with the church’s pastor, Bienne Lamerique, who died when his house collapsed during the earthquake. “I understand what they are feeling and sensing,” Rutledge said. “This church had made a huge impact here in this commu- nity and in Haiti. “My prayer would be that the Lord would raise up powerful leaders to lead this church.” Only 100 members of Shiloh’s 2,000-member congregation were accounted for a week after the earthquake. Some mem- bers left homeless by the quake were living beneath a blue tarp tied to what remained of the church building. Twenty-five-year-old Pierre Anderson and several other church members were in the auditorium when the earthquake hit. A few members were injured, but none seriously, Anderson said. The church, however, sustained so much damage it is now unsafe to use. The congregation has been holding services outside since the quake. “It’s been the church’s encouragement that has helped give me strength,” said Anderson, who lost two sisters in the earth- quake. “No matter what happens in life, the only thing that matters is Jesus Christ,” Anderson continued. “If you have faith, He will STORY ALAN JAMES sustain you.” PHOTOS ROY M. BURROUGHS For more, go to imb.org/haiti. The writer and photographer can be reached at alan.jmedia@gmail.com and digipix.csm@gmail.com. ABOVE: “It’s been the church’s encouragement that REMNANTS: IMB missionary Mark Rutledge prays with members of Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince. Sev- eral families who lost their homes during the earthquake live underneath a blue tarp tied to what’s left of the church building. TOP RIGHT: has helped give me strength.” PRAYER REQUEST: Members of Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince gather outside what’s left of their church building. Four leaders of the church, including the pastor, Bienne Lamerique, were killed during the earthquake that shook the country Jan. 12. As church members recount stories of that horrific day, they ask for prayer that God will raise up new leaders to guide their church. 4 COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM SPRING 2010 5
  4. 4. first person: life and death in Haiti STORY ALAN JAMES PHOTOS ROY M. BURROUGHS I didn’t want to go. The trip seemed too rushed, too difficult and, honestly, too dangerous. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti Jan.12, and the next day the International Mis- sion Board’s media department decided to send a team to report on the devastation and relief efforts. We wanted churches to know as soon as possible how they could respond. But there seemed to be too many unanswered questions. How would we get in to the country? What would we do for transportation? Where would we stay when we got there? What about food and water? According to news reports, the capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas were pretty much shut down. We were hearing reports of desperate Haitians looting and threatening to riot. It didn’t help that some of my friends who had traveled to Haiti were saying, “Haiti is scary on a good day.” OK — then what is it like on a bad day? We needed a good plan, but we didn’t know how many logistical details we would have to nail down after we got there. Mark Rutledge, an IMB missionary with 26 years of experience in Haiti, agreed to trans- late for our team. Still, I was concerned about navigating a disaster of this proportion. Getting down there within a week of the disaster didn’t seem realistic. I prayed, Lord, if You want us down there so soon, then You’re going to have to make this happen. The next day we got a tip about Tim Dortch. The bi-vocational pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church in Camden, Miss., Dortch has more than 15 years of volunteer experience “Suddenly everything fell into place. A peace came over me. I couldn’t wait to get there.” in Haiti and owns a compound in the Dominican Republic just east of the Haiti border. His compound had electricity, running water, food, supplies, Internet access and trucks to take us across the border into Haiti. Dortch offered to let our team use his compound. He planned to accompany us to Haiti so he could take supplies — fuel, water and food — to an orphanage on the out- FACING DEATH: The smell of death was everywhere. Unclaimed bodies skirts of Port-au-Prince after hearing about its needs on the news. lay in the streets, often with little more Suddenly everything fell into place. A peace came over me. than rags draped over them. More I couldn’t wait to get there. remained beneath the rubble. When we arrived in Port-au-Prince, we were assaulted by the smell — dust, urine, rot and death. The sight of thousands and thousands of people living in makeshift camps scattered around the city was overwhelming. People were sleeping, bathing, going to the bath- room right out in the open. Cell phones were getting recharged out of the back of a van. A group of men in one of the camps casually chatted around a closed coffin. Our team encountered a woman rolling around in the street, screaming, “I can’t take life in the street anymore.” Though Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, most of the people there had homes before the earthquake. They had jobs and access to water and food. Life as they knew it is now gone. PEACE AMID CHAOS Still, there were moments that confirmed to me God was there. A pregnant young woman sat quietly against a monument in one of the camps. A Bible rested in her left hand. As she read, she raised her right hand toward the sky. It was a quiet moment in the middle of chaos. Then there were the children. Many of them were quick with a smile when they saw cameras and outsiders entering their world. Some played soccer. A couple of boys playfully chased each other through the crowd. Others flew homemade kites made of plastic plates. 6 COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM SPRING 2010 7
  5. 5. BGR: Baptist partners in disaster relief PHOTO FLORIDA BAPTIST CONVENTION LIFE ON THE STREETS: Since the earthquake, makeshift camps have cropped up in and around Port-au-Prince. Mothers cook and care for their children. Everyone tries to hold out hope for relief and somewhere else to go. CUBA lle de la Tortue ATLANTIC OCEAN Many of the young ones seemed oblivious to the devastation around them. The toughest part was seeing collapsed buildings, especially schools, where we knew B aptist Global Response (BGR) connects people in need with people who care. The “people in need” are those suffering from natural disaster, war and epidemic, HAITI: Gonaives GOLFE de la bodies of children remained beneath the rubble. More bodies — ones no one had claimed — were in the street. The smell of death was strong in many areas of the city. as well as chronic issues of poverty, hunger and poor health. The “people who care” are Southern Baptists who want to be involved in making a significant difference in WAYS TO HELP Gonave On the final night of our trip, our team visited a clinic just beyond the Haitian border in the lives of needy people worldwide. In any disaster, the greatest needs Jimani, Dominican Republic. initially are for prayer, money and Saint-Marc The clinic looked more like a war zone. BGR was created in 2006 to help Southern Baptists become more effective and efficient people with skills in medicine, HAITI in responding to global needs created by acute and chronic situations. It seeks to coordi- Canal de DOMINICAN Wounded Haitians were scattered all over the facility. Some were resting on mattresses nate the global resources of Southern Baptists in response to natural disasters, catastroph- disaster assessment and lle de la Saint-Marc REPUBLIC Gonave on the clinic floor or in the grass outside because that was the only space left. Some had ic crises and chronic humanitarian needs outside the United States and Canada. recovery. limbs amputated. Many others had bandages on their heads or pins in their broken legs BGR’s purpose is to connect Southern Baptists with relief and development needs Canal du Sud or arms. Volunteer doctors and IMB missionaries serving as translators were bleary-eyed worldwide. It seeks to mobilize and involve the human and financial resources of South- Port-au-Prince and exhausted from days with little sleep. They walked among the injured, providing ern Baptists for worldwide relief and development, providing a venue for Southern Bap- Pe´tionville whatever medical help and comfort they could. tists to help poor, needy and suffering people. BGR works and cooperates with Southern Again, we found a moment of peace and hope amid the chaos. Baptist state conventions, local associations, churches and individuals to accomplish this. Les Cayes L Jacmel An elderly woman was resting on a bed in the lobby. Claire’s hip was broken and Its primary ministry partners are Baptists around the world. As part of this broad she was waiting for surgery. Looters had stolen everything from her abandoned home. effort, BGR cooperates with the IMB (International Mission Board) to help implement lle a Vache Port-Salut CARIBBEAN SEA And some of her family had died in the earthquake. a more effective and efficient international relief and development effort. Despite all of this, Claire couldn’t stop smiling. BGR is collaborating with the IMB, Florida Baptist Convention and other Baptist n Pray — See page 21 for specific “I have hope in God,” she said in Creole through a translator. “God will get me partners in the current relief effort in Haiti. ways to pray for the people of Haiti and their recovery from the earthquake. through this.” The Florida convention is a major partner in Haitian relief efforts. They have a People like that give me hope for Haiti. n Give — There are two main ways to give. 15-year partnership in the island nation supporting indigenous missionaries, starting BGR (Baptist Global Response) — gobgr.org For more, go to commissionstories.com/haitihope. new churches and sending volunteers. It uniquely positions them for efforts in response IMB (International Mission Board) — imb.org/haitifund The writer and photographer can be reached at alan.jmedia@gmail.com and digipix.csm@gmail.com. and recovery. Over the past 15 years they have enabled the start of nearly 900 churches When you give to Haiti relief through BGR or IMB, 100 percent of your gift is used to in Haiti, supported theological education for their pastors and food distribution help Haitians in need. programs in times of disaster and civil unrest. n Go — If you would like to volunteer for future projects, e-mail info@gobgr.org or ABOVE: Pam Fields, center, works with a Haitian translator, right, to assess the medical needs of a Haitian patient. haitiresponse@imb.org. Include your name, contact information, skills and She works in a makeshift medical clinic set up under blue tarps across the street from the presidential palace in OVERWHELMING: IMB writer Alan James talks with Michell, who lost his mother and brother — and life as he downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Fields is part of a 15-member volunteer team of doctors, dentists and nurses from when you are available. knew it — in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. For James, meeting so many displaced people in the days after First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla. The team sees 150 to 200 patients a day. They treat wounds, deliver babies, pull the quake was overwhelming. teeth and set bones. With hundreds of Haitians in line asking for medical care, food and water, Fields says, “I can see God’s hand in me being here.” 8 COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM SPRING 2010 9
  6. 6. voodoo priest’s son leads other IMB missionaries comfort injured Haitians to Christ STORY TRISTAN TAYLOR PHOTO EVA RUSSO Haitians at border clinic STORY ALAN JAMES PHOTO ROY M. BURROUGHS D elores York sits in the hallway of Good Samari- tan Clinic just east of the Haiti border in the Domini- can Republic. Her feet hurt. She’s exhausted. It’s been a long day for her and other clinic volunteers as earthquake victims fill every room, waiting for treatment. Patients include amputees, those with head wounds, infections and broken bones. They line the hallway as ambulances pull up to unload new patients. Rooms overflow with patients, exhausted doctors and other volunteers, some just trying to catch an hour or two of rest. The only available space for some is a patch of grass and dirt just outside the clinic. “I just did a 24-hour shift,” IMB missionary Dawn Good- win said. “I haven’t been able to get much sleep, but there aren’t enough translators.” Language barriers complicate the situation in what looks like a war zone. Translating is just part of what the IMB missionaries are doing. A day at the clinic can include everything from help- ing lift patients on and off beds to cleaning bathrooms. The focus, however, remains on comforting the patients — most of whom have lost their homes as well as family and friends. “Everything is gone,” said a man visiting his wife, a pa- tient at the clinic. They lost their two children in the earth- quake. “This is all we have,” he said as he pulled on his shirt. “We have nowhere to go.” The writer and photographer can be reached at alan.jmedia@gmail.com and digipix.csm@gmail.com. PRAYERS OF COMFORT: Jean Junior Cineas, a Haitian Baptist, prays with a woman who lost her COMPASSION: IMB missionary Delores York translated, consoled and home and lives in a makeshift camp prayed with patients at a clinic in Jimani, Dominican Republic, near the following the Jan. 12 earthquake. He is Haiti border. In addition to being injured, most patients had lost their the son of a voodoo priest. He accept- homes as well as family and friends. ed Christ as a teenager and now seeks to help those whose lives have been impacted by the Haiti earthquake. Haitian quake survivors suffer added ache of separation O n a hot afternoon in a crowded, makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince, Jean Before long, though, Junior’s father changed his mind — he no longer wanted his son to T he effects of the earthquake that claimed more than 230,000 Haitian lives in January continue to echo loudly throughout the city and surrounding areas. Junior Cineas sits under a tarp suspended by a broomstick. He shares his faith with be a Christian. In hospitals, volunteers offer medical care for broken bones and missionaries deliver supplies to help rebuild broken lives. But five Haitians left homeless after a Jan. 12 earthquake rocked their island nation. When his missionary friend returned to the United States, Junior met IMB missionaries the catastrophe also has broken countless families. Soon, all five pray to receive Christ as their Savior. Mark and Peggy Rutledge in Port-au-Prince. He was able to escape tensions and voodoo ac- Enso Jean Louis is alone in L’Hopital de Fermathe. Unlike many of his fellow patients, the 22-year-old wasn’t accompanied The irony: Cineas is the son of a voodoo priest. tivity at home by staying with the Rutledges on weekends. When Junior finished high school, by any family. Cineas, 26, who prefers to go by Junior, has had plenty of opportunities to share his faith their house became his new home. Enso lost his parents and five of his siblings when their house collapsed during the earthquake. One sister survived, but the since disaster struck. He says voodoo’s influence has diminished and many Haitians are now He learned more about how to study the Bible and now is a first-year theology student at a two were soon separated when Enso was taken for medical care. calling on God. seminary in Haiti. “I do not know where she is,” he says. “I feel that I am alone.” At a makeshift clinic in the Dominican Republic, 22-year-old Johnny Francois sits at the foot of his sister’s bed. Dieula has a The transformation of Junior and many of his countrymen has not come easily, though. ALL ALONE: Enso Jean Louis, 22, lost his parents For more, go to commissionstories.com. and five of his siblings during the Haiti earthquake. row of stitches on her left side stretching from her thigh to her ribs. Johnny has a small bandage around his right foot. While Junior grew up in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, in a family immersed in voodoo religion. his sister sleeps, he gazes listlessly at the floor. The writer and photographer can be reached at d4j1@aol.com and erusso@timesdispatch.com. Enso, a believer, clings to his faith as he lies in a He knew early on he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Johnny is the oldest of 12 siblings. When Dieula was sent to the Dominican Republic for medical care, Johnny went along hospital bed, recovering from an injured right leg. voodoo priest. to look after her. His future changed at age 16 when an International Mission Board missionary visited his “My father — I don’t know where is him,” he says in broken English. “I don’t know this country.” father’s house. The Southern Baptist missionary told Bible stories, and Junior accepted Christ. He looks around the room and shakes his head. His father did not accept the stories but gave Junior permission to become a Christian. “I have no person come to see me. No person come to help me,” he says. “I do not have a friend.” For more, go to imb.org/haiti. The writer and photographer can be reached at d4j1@aol.com and erusso@timesdispatch.com. 10 COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM SPRING 2010 11
  7. 7. ‘no bottled answers’: Haitians ask volunteers ‘what do I do’ now? STORY ALAN JAMES PHOTOS CHRIS CARTER “W hat do I do?” the Haitian man asked helplessly. The Jan. 12 earthquake had destroyed his home and taken the lives of his wife and two children. He was Convention, which has a long-standing relationship with Haitian Baptists; Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist relief and development agency; the North American Mission living out of a suitcase. Board and the International Mission Board. Butch Vernon, pastor of Thoroughbred Community Church in Nicholasville, Ky., struggled The toughest part for a volunteer is accepting that you can’t help everyone, said Daniel to answer the question. Vernon was in Haiti as a volunteer with a Kentucky Baptist disaster Edney, who directed the medical response efforts with the Mississippi team. relief team. “But we can take care of those who God puts in front of us,” said Edney, a member of “I’m not asked that question a lot back in the States, you know?” said Vernon, his voice First Baptist Church, Vicksburg, Miss., who had led relief teams in New Orleans following cracking with emotion. Hurricane Katrina and in South Asia after the tsunami. “It’s not one of those deals where you can say, ‘take two [Bible] verses and call me in the “When those you help walk out with a smile on their face, you know you’ve morning.’ It’s the only time I’m going to see that guy, and there are no bottled answers. done something.” “I prayed with him and I hugged him, and we gave him some medicine that won’t fix [his For more, go to commissionstories.com/haitivols. problems], but it made him feel better,” he added. “We’re seeing a lot of that.” The writer and photographer can be reached at alan.jmedia@gmail.com and photocarter@hotmail.com. From Jan. 31 to Feb. 8, Vernon and the Kentucky team joined forces with a Mississippi Baptist disaster relief team. They were part of a coordinated effort among the Florida Baptist MEDICAL CARE: Emilia Flaven, 90, has her blood pressure checked by Dominican Republic physician IN NEED: Daniel Edney, who led Pedro Juan Gonzalez as medical a Mississippi Baptist disaster relief student Magdalena Dongervil medical team, prays over a Haitian translates for them at a makeshift man who came to a clinic suffering clinic at Concord Baptist Church in from a high fever, dehydration and Port-au-Prince. serious infections. Haitian pastor turns church, home into makeshift clinics STORY TRISTAN TAYLOR PHOTOS EVA RUSSO H e couldn’t find the words to pray. He could only sing. Concord Baptist Church pastor Ronel Mesidor left his Port-au-Prince office at Compassion “I think God left us alive for a special reason,” Mesidor said. “Because these people need someone to take care of them.” International, a Christian child advocacy ministry, at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 12 to drive home. Before he People continued flocking to the church in search of medical care and food. It has was halfway there, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 230,000 become a hub of grass-roots relief activity. One of the pastor’s friends with medical people shook Haiti. experience treats people in the makeshift clinic set up in the sanctuary. Manise helps Shocked and grief-stricken people, crumbled buildings, crushed cars and dead bodies prepare food for all the workers. made streets impassable, so Mesidor continued home on foot. Relief started to arrive from other sources, too. Dominican Baptist and Southern Baptist Feeling his way through the darkness and devastation, the Haitian Baptist pastor sang assessment teams visited the church and delivered supplies. every song that came to mind as he walked throughout the night. It was the longest night of IMB missionary Dawn Goodwin, who has worked with Mesidor, says the church is being his life, he said. used as a distribution center for supplies sent by Dominican Baptists. It was the next morning before Mesidor arrived at his church in Carrefour, a Port-au-Prince Mesidor believes good can come from this tragic earthquake. More than anything, he suburb about 12 miles south of the capital. He found his wife, Manise, there and unhurt. prays that Haitians will find hope in God. He soon learned his five children were OK as well. Miraculously, the church and his house, To learn more, go to commissionstories.com/mesidor. located on the same block, were intact. The writer and photographer can be reached at d4j1@aol.com and erusso@timesdispatch.com. People who had lost their homes soon began arriving at the church — they had nowhere else to go. Manise, a nurse, turned the Mesidor home into a clinic to care for the injured. When space ran out, the pastor opened the church. 12 COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM SPRING 2010 13
  8. 8. the Silk Road has always LIVING IN FELT: Yurts were transportable over steppes and mountain ranges. Nomadic peoples once controlled vast stretches of the Silk Road. Today, a small number of mountain Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uighur peoples can still be found living this lifestyle, but most have settled in farming villages or urban centers. been about dreams ... … dreams of wealth … expansion … adventure … and conquest. T he first to stir the dust of this ancient trade route were moved by THE EAST both selfish and noble motivations. The Chinese needed horses, the Arabs paper, Genghis Khan an empire, Marco Polo a land route to and Oases are generous places. Barrenness gives way to greenery, toil to rest. The city of Kashgar is one such oasis. Here on the edge of China’s Taklamakan Desert the city grips from the East. Above all, the main prize was silk, China’s secret treasure. the landscape. It rises out of the sand in a stunning display of color and activity. Romans, Persians, kings and queens of Europe all coveted the luxurious fabric. People still travel by donkey and camel carts to the city’s thriving outdoor market, but In the second century B.C., the first shipments of Chinese silk arrived at Mediter- they are far outnumbered by trucks and other motorized vehicles. Travelers, traders and ranean ports. Lighter than gold — nearly as precious — silk became a kind of cur- farmers find abundant opportunities for buying and selling. rency in bazaars across Central Asia. As a result previously unconnected cultures It is a city of hospitality. One can see it in the traditions of the Muslim Uighurs who were woven together — much like the fabric they sought — in ways measured populate the area, in the service of Han Chinese to their Uighur neighbors, in the wed- only by the hand of God. dings of young women, and the laughter of old men. Today the eastern end of the Silk Road is vitally important to a regional revival Yet not all is restful in Kashgar. Uighurs chafe under the authority of China. The gov- of commerce. It is in the east the road begins … ernment squelches dissent in the name of anti-terrorism, suppressing Christians and Muslims alike. God’s Word, the one true oasis, gets crowded out repeatedly. Yet hope still persists. Here at the eastern end of the Silk Road, possibilities once again grow in the hearts of modern-day dreamers. What if God, in response to prayers, causes streams to flow in this desert? What if His Word gets planted in the heart of western China — and from here bears fruit all along the old road? 14 COMMISSIONSTORIES.COM SPRING 2010 15

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