By Katelin van Zyl

On Thursday, 23 May, three American missionaries serving in Haiti were shot and killed by gang members after leaving a youth group activity at a church in the capital, Port-au-Prince. One of the victims was the local director of Missions in Haiti Inc., Jude Montis, and the other two were Davy and Natalie Lloyd, a young married couple also serving with the organisation started by Davy’s parents in 2000. Missions in Haiti Inc. primarily focuses on seeing the Gospel impact the lives of young Haitians. David and Alicia Lloyd, the founders, wrote on their website that “Although the entire nation is steeped in poverty, the children suffer the worst. Thousands are malnourished, uneducated, and headed for hopeless lives apart from Christ.” People have suffered tremendously in the absence of an operational government since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. The area controlled by gangs has increased to approximately 80% of the capital now. Thousands have been killed, kidnapped, raped, and displaced in gang violence. Many services have ground to a halt and nearly two million people are believed to be on the verge of famine. After Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to resign, a transitional council was sworn in on 25 April to combat the gang violence, deal with the humanitarian crisis, organise elections, and take steps towards restructuring and strengthening state institutions. However, gang leaders had expressed anger over their exclusion from transitional negotiations, and the council has seen a rocky start. To assist local police, a Kenyan security mission is due to arrive in Haiti in around three weeks.

Amid unrelenting gang violence and government inaction, the practice of Vodou has grown in popularity. Although the religion originating in West Africa has a long history in Haiti – including playing an integral part in Haiti’s independence revolution – it was also publicly condemned by many politicians, intellectuals and the Catholic Church. Recently, it has become more accepted, and many Haitians look to Vodouism for protection, solace and help in meeting many different needs. There are over 1,000 spirits (Iwa) that can be called upon and invited to inhabit a person. Vodouism is described as syncretistic because it combines different beliefs and practices. There is a popular saying that “Haiti is 70% Catholic, 30% Protestant and 100% Vodou.” The Bible is full of descriptions of the power, provision, protection and all-sufficiency of God. For example, in Psalm 18:2 we see David describing God as His “rock”, “fortress”, “deliverer”, “shield”, and “stronghold”. In Psalm 23:1-6, David says that he “[lacks] nothing”, because the Lord is his “Shepherd”, who provides for him, refreshes his soul, is with him through the darkest valley and gives him an eternal dwelling in God’s household. since their longings and needs can only truly be found in Jesus and not in the practice of Vodou.

Amid the sadness and mourning over the missionaries who were promoted to glory, we find encouragement in knowing they faithfully served the Lord in Haiti, refusing to abandon God’s call despite the risks. They exemplified Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow Him, being light in utter darkness and chaos. The Bible calls followers of Jesus to shine the light of Christ, pointing those living in darkness (those who do not know Christ) to Jesus, the true source of light and the hope of the world (for eg. Matt 5:14-16; John 8:12; John 1:4-5, 8-9, 14; Eph 5:8-11; 2 Cor 4:6; Rom 15:13; 1 Tim 1:1). Jesus laid down His life that we might be saved and have eternal life in Him. Col 1:13-14 (NIV) says: “For [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus said that those who follow Him will face opposition from the darkness and be rejected by many (for eg. John 1:10-11; John 3:20; 2 Cor 4:4; Luke 14:25-33). These missionaries answered the call to pick up their cross and follow Him, joining the work of local believers in advancing the kingdom of Light in Haiti despite the many challenges and the threat to their earthly lives. We can pray that their lives and their deaths will reflect God’s compelling, powerful, and sacrificial love to anyone who hears their story and was affected by their ministry. Where they have left a gap, may others take over the baton to be a Christlike presence in Haiti.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • For those mourning the loss of the three people killed to be comforted and lovingly supported
  • For the restoration of law, order, and peace in Haiti and for many to turn to Jesus as their Saviour, Lord, and Good Shepherd.
  • For the light of Christ to be evident in believers in Haiti and for the Church to remain faithful to the Word of God.