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Haiti: Updates from a Country in Turmoil

By Esaie Etienne, Mar 26, 2024

Editor’s Note: Esaie and Natacha Etienne are natives of Haiti and MTW missionaries who have served the city of Gonaives since 2008. While Haiti has known significant political and social instability in the past, it is currently in what Esaie calls a “downward spiral.” This is their most recent update and prayer letter.

Haiti has been mired in a downward spiral of a multifaceted crisis that has brought its people to their knees with a cry of desperation. Everybody is affected. Everyone, the rich, the poor, and everyone in between, has received one way or another their share of suffering in this unfortunate situation. It may seem unfortunate that a major part of our ministry update has been to report on the volatile and dire situation in Haiti for the past five years or so. However, our goal in this has not been to just make you aware of the suffering, the unsafe aspect of life in the country for everybody, and the increased level of poverty among a very large group of the population. Our goal is mainly to attract your attention to the sinfulness of sin in mankind left to themselves. We want you to be sensitive to the urgent need to preach the gospel of Jesus, which is the only remedy for the twisted hearts and minds of man everywhere of which Haiti is not an exception.

A Nation in Peril

The past 14 months have been especially alarming and destructive for the people of Haiti who have found themselves taken hostage by more than 300 armed gangs that have terrorized them on every front and everywhere on the 27,750 square kilometers that make up the republic of Haiti. The United Nations has reported that “more than 8,400 people were victims of gang violence in Haiti last year, including killings, injuries, and kidnappings—a 122 percent increase over 2022.” There are also more than 300,000 people who are internally displaced because the gangs have chased them out of their homes and neighborhoods. In just one week, more than 15,000 people have been displaced, and the gangs have broken into two of the major prisons in the capital and have freed more than 4,000 prisoners of which a large number are notorious criminals. 

Like most organizations and businesses, our ministry has been strongly affected by the fury of the plagues that fell on the country over the past few years. In September 2020, we were supposed to launch our Presbytery in collaboration with two other Reformed ministries, but the degradation of the security situation has precluded us from doing so. For the past five years, the kids [at Docine Christian Academy] have never had a full year of school and we have lost many teachers that we have trained. We have lost many of our leaders in the churches because most people are trying to leave the country in search of peace, security, and a better life somewhere else.

More Recent News

Since March 1, the gangs have united under one agenda to take over the country. The population is waiting impatiently for the multinational forces that were approved by the United Nations to bring some support to the national police. The country is now put under siege by a very dysfunctional government in the hope of bringing some control to the gangs that are taking over most of the government infrastructure in the capital. In the meantime, according to the UN, 1.3 million people in the country are highly food insecure and 4.5 million don’t have enough to eat. With the last waves of violence that gangs have launched in Port-au-Prince, the population is imprisoned in their own homes. Businesses are closed, schools are not functioning, and food and water are precious commodities.

Our New Lives in the DR

As you were aware Natacha and I were planning to move [from south Florida] to the Dominican Republic. We moved last January, and we are now in Santo Domingo. We have been multiplying our contacts, nurturing a few friendships, as well as trying to learn the language which is Spanish. We plan to develop some ministry here and continue to oversee the ministry in Haiti by going back and forth between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This is something that is going to be very challenging if nothing is done soon with the security situation.

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for the UN-approved multinational forces to come very soon to help stop the bloodshed.
  • We have received a lot of requests for help with food from the churches and communities that we serve in Gonaives. Please pray for some resources that allow us to do that. If you feel led, please donate to Haiti relief through Project #P-0474
  • Please pray for the safety of our ministry partners in Gonaives as they continue to labor patiently with the people.
  • Please pray for our transition here in the Dominican Republic and our residency visa process.

Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches over me
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me (He watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches
I know He watches
I know He watches me.

— His Eye Is on the Sparrow, by Civilla D. Martin

This story originally appeared on and is republished with permission.

Esaie Etienne
Esaie Etienne and his wife, Natacha, are natives of Haiti and MTW missionaries who have served the city of Gonaives since 2008. They currently live in the Dominican Republic and minister to both nations. Visit their missionary profile to learn more about their ministry.
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Please pray for Haiti, and particularly for the safety of our ministry partners in Gonaives as they continue to labor patiently with the people.

Please pray for Haitians, particularly those in southern Haiti, whose communities were devastated by the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

Pray for God's work in Haiti as people are struggling under political turmoil and COVID-19.

Pray for our rebuilding efforts in Haiti and the Bahamas that is a response to Hurricane Matthew. That God will muliply the funds and strengthen the church.

Pray for the ministry of the Etiennes in Gonaives, Haiti. Pray for the church, schools, children's homes, and for the raising up of national leaders.

Pray for churches to send short-term teams to Haiti, and that these trips would make a significant impact. Pray for trip participants and for the Gonaives church they go to serve. 

Pray for God's grace for missionaries as they seek to be an example of love and hospitality to their neighbors while facing ongoing stressors of life.

Pray that missionaries would feel cared for while on the field. Pray, too, for our Member Care Department staff as they seek to care for missionaries well.

Pray for God's work among the nations in South Korea through MTW's Diaspora Ministry.

Pray for MTW's ministry in Haiti in the midst of ongoing gang violence and ongoing instability.


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