- (Photo: AP Photo / Paul Beaty)
Churches in Haiti and around the world prayed Sunday for those affected by last week’s devastating earthquake, which has claimed as many as 100,000 victims and left more than three million in need of aid.
Solid Rock First Haitian Tabernacle of Grace Church in Raleigh gathered its mostly Haitian congregation Sunday for a second straight evening to pray, sing and remember those who lost their lives.
The Atlanta Haitian Church of God, meanwhile, took donations during their service to help with relief efforts and reported that the community’s coming together is a testament to how strong the Haitian people are.
“We are united, we are strong and resilient, and we will get through this with faith and God,” said Dr. Robert Bouloute, a pastor at the church, according to CBS Atlanta.
Though a reliable death toll may be weeks away, the Pan American Health Organization estimates 50,000 to 100,000 died in Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude quake, which struck at 4:53 p.m. ET ten miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, bringing down buildings great and small and leaving behind dead bodies throughout the city's streets.
Aid, doctors and troops have been flowing into Haiti while those on the scene struggle to distribute water and rations to the country’s already vulnerable people.
There are approximately three million people in need of help and the number of homeless people in Port-au-Prince is at least 300,000. Up to 50 percent of the buildings in Haiti were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, including eight hospitals and health facilities that were forced to close as a result.
“With so many buildings destroyed and so many people made homeless, the need for shelter and basic essentials such as food and water is extremely urgent,” reported Matthew Frost, chief executive of U.K.-based Tearfund.
“Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and millions of people live in the affected area,” he added.
While aid continued to trickle in Sunday, the congregants of Port-au-Prince's Roman Catholic cathedral gathered for Sunday Mass in what remained of their house of worship, giving thanks for simply being alive.
"Why give thanks to God? Because we are here," the Rev. Eric Toussaint exhorted, according to The Associated Press.
“We are in the hands of God now."
Though the large number of those affected in Haiti would be a burden that would test any nation, it could be a crushing catastrophe for impoverished Haiti.
By most economic measures, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. It is also one of the world's poorest and least developed. Most Haitians live on two dollars or less per day.
Christian groups currently involved in relief efforts include World Vision, the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, and the relief arms of denominations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church, among many others.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Haiti is home to some nine million people.