Three American soldiers committed suicide in the first few months after U.S. forces arrived in Haiti in September 1994. Speculation on the reason for these tragedies centered on the inability of those three young persons to stand the inhuman conditions they found in that country.
An acquaintance of ours formed part of the delegation that returned to Haiti with President Aristide on October 15 of that year. She described the dramatic and unsettling picture of Haitian people bathing, washing clothes, and even drinking from the sewer-like water running along the roadside in front of American service men and women standing guard. How does one view such an inhuman scene for hours on end without great despair?
One way is together with a faith community. In August 1993 a group sponsored by the Church of the Saviour's Ministry of Money in Washington, D.C., journeyed to Bosnia on a "Pilgrimage of Reverse Mission." The "reverse mission" of the Ministry of Money is to aid the conscientization of First World Christians to the reality of the hurting world beyond our shores.
During our 10 days in the devastated Bosnian countryside, we, like our military personnel in Haiti, looked into the face of evil and its consequences. The difference was that we had each other's Christian faith as our support. Not that our "pilgrimage community" sought to evade what we were seeing through escapist prayer or frivolous theological rationalizing. None of our group could pass through Bosnia and be satisfied only with asking God to help the many victims we encountered; nor could we submerge the conflict we were witnessing into a reflection on "life hereafter." The insults to God's sons and daughters resulting from the killing taking place in Bosnia prevented any of that.