February 5, 2010
Ruben Cenea was in class when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 12.
Buried in the rubble for five hours, 59 of Ruben's classmates either died or are crippled for life. Trapped in mounds of concrete, second-year seminary student was the only Church of the Rock student to escape unharmed.
"I thought I was dreaming. When I was first hit by the blocks, I thought I was in a dream," Cenea said.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a dream, but rather a real-life nightmare.
"When I wake up, I just see a guy laying on my stomach with a big piece of block in his back, and this guy protected me, but he died," Cenea said.
"I heard people screaming and yelling out the name of Jesus," he said.
Ruben's best friend was trapped just a few inches from him. Working his arm free so he could hold her hand, he remembers comforting her during her final hours.
"I just pray with her as she was crying," said Cenea. "I remind her of God's goodness."
When Crosswalk.com caught up with him, Cenea was trying to keep busy helping others. He is a staff member at Mission of Hope Haiti (MOH), located 12 miles from Port-au-Prince. The mission now also serves as his home for both him and his family where they sleep in a tent.
"I don't like being inside right now because I am afraid the building might shake again," said Cenea. The area experienced more than 50 aftershocks in the first week after the earthquake, one with a 5.9 magnitude. "Many people don't want to be inside."
Yet stories like Cenea's keep hope alive throughout this desperate nation. His miraculous survival is just one of the stories pointing out the road to recovery, even though it's a long one.
In other places, Haiti's massive earthquake has brought new streams of water bubbling into the barren land. Experts note that Haiti has been plagued by a severe lack of clean drinking water for years. Much of the drinking water available to the country's 10 million people via springs, wells, and municipal water systems was loaded with bacteria and parasites.
Today, more than 20 new streams of fresh water flow near the village of Source Matelas, just down the road from MOH. Before the earthquake, the earthquake had one small stream of dirty, dank water.
"The farmers are excited to have water now," said Jean Bernard, who lives in Source Matelas. "But we need someone who can make the water flow better."
This isn't the only case of water flowing for the first time.
On the MOH property, various volunteer teams have tried to locate water for nearly 12 years. Now, just after the earthquake, a team with Living Water Midwest tapped water at Mission of Hope for the first time.
"We are just here to serve the Lord and it is really exciting to find water after all these years," said Tom Dehn of Living Water Midwest. The group has worked in Haiti since 2004. "Being able to pump water will help the ministry be more self-sufficient and provide badly needed water."
With a country now filled with critically injured people, doctors say water is the key ingredient to a successful recovery. "Most of the patients who come into the clinic are severely dehydrated," said Tom Schott, M.D.
The majority of patients medical teams have treated were people with broken bones and infected wounds, but diarrheal diseases were surfacing as well. The condition especially concerns doctors because many people are living in makeshift tent cities.
Schott, who was in Haiti with a medical team from Dallas, Texas, said weather, will also begin to influence patient conditions.
"The rainy season will start in about four weeks. All those folks are out in the open, living on top of each other. That will compound the issue with new infectious diseases."
As new challenges approach, however, stories like those of Ruben Cenea's survival and mysterious streams of clean water have changed the lives of many Haitians.
"I am not the same person I was when I went to school that day," Cenea said. "Coming out of the rubble, I am a new person. I plan no more. God is in complete control."
If you'd like to support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, consider joining some of Crosswalk.com's partners in their work: Global Aid Network (GAiN) USA, Food for the Hungry, Samaritan's Purse, and World Vision.
Russ Jones is co-publisher of the award winning Christian Press Newspaper (ChristianPress.com) and CEO of BIG Picture Media Group, Inc., a boutique media firm located in Newton, Kansas. Jones holds degrees from the University of Missouri and St. Paul School of Theology. As a former NBC TV reporter he enjoys reporting where evangelical Christian faith and news of the day intersect. He is also president of the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers. Jones is also a freelance reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.