(Photo: Churches Helping Churches / Kenny Kim)
Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll spoke Wednesday to over 50,000 people during an outside church service commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.
The event, which took place outside the collapsed capitol building in Port-au-Prince, was hosted by Churches Helping Churches, a global church partnership co-founded by Driscoll to help rebuild churches devastated in the wake of a natural disaster.
Addressing a sea of Haitians that crowded the five-way intersection to attend the rally, the Seattle-based pastor shared the Gospel based on Galatians 4:4-7 on the difference between a son and a slave.
He taught that although Haiti has been set free from slavery as a nation, they also need to pursue spiritual freedom in Jesus Christ.
"Tragically, many professing Christian churches have historically included voodoo practices. I explained how a slave only has a master who uses them, but a son has a father who loves them. God is our Father and he sent his only Son to make them sons," said Driscoll on the CHC website.
"Furthermore, like the Haitians, God’s Son was poor and homeless, and he suffered and died. But he rose in victory, and like him, those who die in faith will rise one day."
Driscoll shared that he chose the topic because of the long-standing history of slavery in Haiti, from the physical slavery that existed prior to the country's liberation to the spiritual slavery to the demonic voodoo that is widespread today.
CHC co-founder and president James MacDonald, senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel based in Elgin, Ill., also delivered a Christian message during the open-air rally.
Using text from Luke 13, he offered a biblical understanding of disaster and closed with an invitation to Jesus as the ultimate answer to calamity.
The open-air worship service offered a chance to grieve and look to God for healing and hope, according to Driscoll. Over 3,000 churches and ministries from across the city also joined the event.
Local Haitian pastors, many whose churches were reduced to rubble during the 7.0-magnitude quake, also ministered through message to the crowd.
CHC director Thomas Kim helped to organize the event and connected with the local pastors.
"Our service was a little different in that it was less of a memorial and more of a celebration," he told The Christian Post. "It was less backwards looking and more forwards looking, less about what we've lost and more about what we have, less about us and more about God."
The rally on Wednesday was one of many expressions by CHC partners to show their commitment to stand together with the body of believers in Haiti.
Started in response to the cataclysmic quake on Jan. 12, 2010, CHC has raised $2.7 million toward medical relief and training, with $750,000 donated by parishioners of Mars Hill.
By this summer, according to Driscoll, the budget will be completely spent toward efforts to bring in $1.7 million in medical aid, equip pastors through dozens of retreats, rebuild 50 church buildings, and expand the CHC network in the U.S. and worldwide.
Driscoll acknowledged that the rebuilding of Haiti will be a long-term and painful process, noting the serious lack of construction, urgency, functional government and military, and education in the country.
However, he reported that many leaders say that Haiti is experiencing a revival as many turn from voodoo to Christ. He spoke to one local pastor who started a church amid a tent city of 50,000 where 3,000 now attend church services every week.
"For me personally, it was emotionally overwhelming to see the spiritual hunger in Haiti," shared Driscoll. "Churches are exploding in growth, and megachurches of homeless people fill the night air in tent cities with songs of worship and rejoicing in Jesus Christ.
The Churches Helping Churches event comes just days after evangelist Franklin Graham, President and CEO of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, had addressed tens of thousands on Sunday during a worship rally inside the city's National Soccer Stadium.