Interview with Micah Challenge Coordinator in Haiti December 20 2006 Why have you started a Micah Challenge campaign in Haiti? When I heard about Micah Challenge, immediately, I thought that this was the most appropriate campaign for a country like Haiti. Haiti has huge difficulties with all the issues reflected in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). If you take each one of them, we are struggling. I think it is entirely appropriate for the Church in Haiti to mobilise and to become a prophetic voice so that the authorities will abide by their commitment to reach the MDG targets. What kinds of activities are you planning for Micah Challenge Haiti? We have just launched the campaign here (Nov) at a conference for evangelical church leaders. We invited 200 leaders from around the country under the theme ‘The Integral Mission of the Church’, 230 came! Erika Izquierdo from Micah Challenge Andean Region and Lawrence Temfwe from Micah Challenge Zambia came to speak with us. We were also joined by Haitian speakers and economists who told us about the MDGs and what progress we are making in Haiti. From that conference we developed ‘pairs’ of commitments for each of the first seven goals. For each one we committed ourselves to take action within the Church and we committed to press our government to keep its promises. For example, the second Millennium Development Goal says that by 2015 all children should have free access to primary education. So we’ve committed ourselves to see that there should be no child in any church without access to school by 2015; and to promote literacy among 19-30 year olds within the Church. But our second commitment is an advocacy commitment; to press our government to fulfil its constitutional responsibility to provide free schooling for all children in Haiti. Currently there are 500,000 children in our country who don’t go to school. We’re also planning: a press campaign to publicise the MDGs and Micah challenge. meetings with church pastors and church associations around the country, to tell them about the MDGs and to collect signatures for Micah Challenge. the development of a theological programme for seminaries and Bible institutes in Haiti so that those training to be leaders can develop a good understanding of integral mission. What kind of impact do you hope Micah Challenge will have? My vision for Micah Challenge is that it will impact the whole of the evangelical church first. Impacting the way we see our mission, and our understanding of what it means to be a prophetic voice in our country. Secondly, I hope there will be a change in the direction of public policy on social issues like education. I believe we will see a big change in these areas. And we’re not going to be alone. We will network with other groups who are working to see these goals fulfilled. Where does Haiti stand in relation to the MDGs? In a nutshell our MDGs 'report card' is awful. From 2000 - 2006 we’ve made no progress and on some of the goals we have gone backwards. Given the history of economic and political instability in Haiti how will churches play their role? There are obstacles. We have not enjoyed traditional liberties like freedom of speech, which is new for us. And our government is not naturally tolerant. Another obstacle comes from within the Church itself. Evangelical churches have tended to be conservative in nature, not seeing their role as being a voice to authority. Instead they have tended to see governments as authorities given by God and so not to be challenged. With this kind of mentality the first challenge will be to see ourselves differently. To stop seeing our role as evangelicals with a small ‘e’, rather with a big ‘E’. As evangelicals we believe the call of Jesus is to make disciples and to heal humankind in its wholeness - mind, soul and spirit, not leaving anything out. In speaking to government, we’re already implicating them at the start of Micah Challenge by inviting them to the launch. We even invited our Prime Minister! In the end the Minister for Planning and International Cooperation, the Minister for Education and one Senator, who is President of the Human Rights Commission, all attended and addressed the assembly. How can Christians from other countries help Micah Challenge in Haiti? Co-operation has already started with Micah Challenge speakers coming to share with us from Latin America and Africa. We are also sharing materials and this is very good for us. We also count on the prayers of Christians all over the world to help us to be faithful to our commitments; to pray for us to have the courage to face ourselves in the Church and the courage to face authority and speak out. Life is very violent here. And we need financial assistance. Micah Challenge Coordinator in Haiti is Jean Claude Cerin.
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