Worshiping out of the depths
In the photo is Israel, a 17-year-old resident of Maison de Lumiere orphanage. Just a month before this photo was taken, Israel had lost his business partner and all their equipment. Their business had been solidifying, and we could see Israel carving out an economically successful future for himself. However, on January 12 when the quake hit, the office building where they worked collapsed, demolishing their equipment and killing Israel's partner. In 45 seconds, Israel's future seemed to have disappeared in a cloud of concrete dust.
Now Israel's grief over losing his business partner is intertwined with distressing questions about his future and the future of his "brothers" at Maison de Lumiere. It is out of that place of heavy suffering that he worships. This photo was taken on February 12, one month after the quake, while we were engaged in Haiti's weekend of national fasting and praying.
In after-quake Haiti, there are countless stories like Israel's. The suffering is immense and ever-present. Therefore, when the Haitian people worship, it comes out of deep places in their souls. What do you see in the photo? I see worship rising up from Israel's toes and leaping out through his face and outstretched hands. I see someone praising God with abandon. I also see an uncanny resemblance of Christ on the cross. For me, this photo has become like an icon of worship arising out of great suffering.