Pray for the safety of our Haitian brothers and sisters in the DR.

A week before my (Jeff’s) March trip with Crosspoint there was a tragic incident in the neighborhood where our ministry is headquartered. Will Partin and John Martinez both responded to a Haitian man in a desperate situation. Will stepped out of his apartment on the second floor only to discover a Haitian man collapsing in the street. He ran to get help from John. Within moments they returned and were dismayed to discover the man surrounded by Dominicans from the neighborhood. It was clear that the man was in need of help but the bystanders were only gawking. John and Will pushed by and tried to access the man’s situation. It was clear he had been attacked by someone wielding a machete. He had two deep 5 to 6 inch gashes on his head revealing blood, bone, and brain matter. He was still breathing, moaning and groaning. The crowd around them offered no help. They argued back and forth over whether someone should call the police and who, but no one would touch him. Will and John managed to lift him and put him in the back of a pick-up truck owned by the ministry. Leaving a pool of blood behind they raced to the hospital, John in the back, trying to stop the bleeding from the man’s head with a shirt.

They entered the hospital and the Dominican staff asked John, “Why did you bring him here? It’s dangerous.” They did not respond to this situation as if it were a real emergency. They mostly argued over who would pay for the treatment before they would even give the man a second look though John made it clear that he would cover the cost of everything. Once that was settled they cut away the man’s clothing. This revealed a significant wound to his abdomen that had exposed his intestines. The doctors explained that he would need a surgeon and that there wasn’t one on duty at this particular medical facility. They would have to take him somewhere else by ambulance, but not before the service was prepaid. At each turn John and Will were met with resistance from people who were supposed to be committed to serving the sick and injured. In tearful and prayerful frustration they got the ambulance paid for and sent the man off from there.

After reflecting on the general attitude of all of the Dominicans they encountered in the entire process Will and John now doubt this decision in the chaotic moment. They fear that without the proper supervision, this man may have just been dropped off at the morgue to die.

We do not know why the man was attacked for certain. It may be that he was attempting to steal something; it may be that he was caught up in some dispute with another Haitian. Regardless of the causes for his injuries the response to his critical needs by those that could have offered him aid is inexcusable. It is inexcusable and also to be expected of a culture in which the Gospel has not cured its heart of the disease of racism, nationalism, and classism.

Many of the Dominicans did not act out of fear of the police. When there is an assault or a murder the police typically arrest everyone around and take them in for a day or more of questioning. No doubt this is part of why Will and John were greeted at the hospital with, “Why did you bring him here? It’s dangerous.” But regardless of the danger imposed by the police real or assumed, inconvenience is not an excuse to refuse aid when one is in such desperate need.

Some did not act out of a lack of concern. At best, this bloodied Haitian collapsed in the street was only a spectacle to behold. There is little doubt that deep down some likely relished this tragedy. This will be one less Haitian causing “trouble” for Dominicans (never mind how much Dominicans benefit from the daily presence of inexpensive labor in their own country). Had this victim been a Dominican citizen you can, rest assured, count on them having been rushed to the hospital and treated with no resistance, because when a Dominican is hurt they are considered a person.

This spiritual sickness (the three headed monster of racism/nationalism/classism) lies mostly just below the surface in the Dominican Republic. An event such as this reveals how deeply the monster is rooted in the culture. When a Haitian commits a violent crime against a Dominican (or is just accused of it) the nation is inflamed with rage and results in countless reprisal killings. We have felt the affects of this reality personally. A few years ago a Haitian had been accused of attacking a Dominican family in a community 2 hours away. Daily, Haitian bodies were showing up at the morgue all over the Dominican. Among them was a friendly Haitian day laborer I had had an opportunity to get to know a little bit. We had worked on a few construction projects together. He and his cousin had been walking down the street, lunch in hand, heading towards a job site (unrelated to G.O.) and had both been gunned down by a Dominican passer-by in a pick-up truck. They were murdered simply for being Haitian. It happens more than most would care to admit, without much of an investigation to follow.

These stories are difficult to hear and tell but they must be told if we are to properly understand the daily dangers of being Haitian in the Dominican Republic. They need to be told, especially to those who Partner with Haitian pastors in the Dominican Republic. These men and flocks they serve in Jesus’ name are daily potential victims to random acts of violence for no other reason than that they are Haitian. The attack of the Haitain man in our neighborhood and the subsequent ignoring of his situation by Dominican bystanders served to underscore the seriousness of the possibilities facing Moise Jean, the Haitian pastor that Crosspoint Community Church partners with. John Martinez was gracious enough to recount his experience on Crosspoint’s behalf, that they might be admonished to pray for Moise and his flock regularly and intensely. Please join them in those prayers both for Moise and all of the Haitians attempting to make a living in the DR.