Haiti: How can poverty and Christianty coexist?

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. I have visited it a few times and am always struck by the severe poverty.

QUESTION: How is it that a country which has so much Christianity also has so much poverty? How can the two coexist? I was asked similar questions last week. Heres an answer by a leading Haitian theologian, interviewed by Christianity Today.

dieumeme-noelliste.jpgMy view: the gospel that has been preached in Haiti has left a vacuum—has left the political landscape untouched. The church doesn’t see its business as being a prophetic witness to those in power. The result has been a political sector left to its own devices; this is why the common people were the first responders to the crisis, not the government. This is the result of the gospel being truncated, emasculated, instead of confronting the powers that be to do what God intends for them to do: protect and enhance life.”

Dr Dieumeme Noelliste, president of the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association, quoted here on CT  


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • This question raises the issue of what type of Christianity has been preached in Haiti. A Kingdom type of discipleship, would have upset the powers to be and would have called followers of Jesus to love their neighbor as they love themselves. A Kingdom type of business, would have seen communities springing up in the midst of the poor developing self-sustaining business that would have been done not for the profit of one but for the sharing of the income among those involved. A Kingdom type of politics, would have sought to develop a redistribution of the population away from crowded PuaP to areas where new communities could be established. Be that as it may, I continue to be amazed at the number of “Jesus attitudes” I have seen on CNN (of all places) by locals caring for locals. In spite of all of our inaptitudes the Kingdom of God is in Haiti and it is advancing in spite of an because of this terrible tragedy. To God be the glory!

  • Amy says:

    Andrew, I love this question… and that answer. It’s so complex. The ‘witness to those in power’ is a key. For the church to take up the job of being counselors to the civil authorities, where there is openness to hear…. It has to happen. I was inspired by Martin Luther King’s thoughts on this in one of his books I read–I’ve always thought he wasn’t a ‘civil leader’ but a spiritual leader speaking into the civil authorities, which thereafter changed our laws for the better. The kingdom came!

  • kiwipaddy says:

    how on earth can they not coexist? they are inextricably bound to one another. is this not a true ‘option for the poor’?

  • Roger says:

    Can I ask another question? How can a country which has so much Christianity and so much wealth (the US) keep Haiti so poor?
    Haiti is projected to pay at least $100 million in debt payments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB)over the next five years unless thier debts are cancelled. How is it that faced with the catastrophy of the earthquake, rich countries can still demand that the poor pay them!? They are in fact proposing new loans to Haiti! Details here http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/Drop%20Haiti%27s%20Debt+4420.twl

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