By Worthy News Americas Service with Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (Worthy News)-- Amid destroyed churches and the stench of human death, native Christians prayed for Haiti Sunday, January 24, and one believer said it was a miracle he had been found alive a full 11 days after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook his nation.
Wismond Exantus, 24, was plucked to safety at the weekend – hours after Haiti's government officially declared the search for survivors over.
Exantus thanked God for saving his life and added that he survived on cola, crisps, beer and whisky. At least 200,000 other Haitians are believed to have died in the disaster.
Exantus, a cashier, was at work in the ground-floor shop of the four-storey Napoli Inn in the capital Port-au-Prince when Haiti's worst earthquake in over 200 years struck Tuesday, January 12.
His family approached a Greek journalist on the street saying they had heard noises coming from underneath a building. The Greek journalist said he also heard the sound and approached a Greek rescue team.
They and American and French teams eventually managed to pull the man out of the rubble. "Every night I thought about the revelation that I would survive. It was God who was tucking me away in his arms. It gave me strength," Exantus told reporters.
He is no exception. On Friday, January 22, Israeli rescuers saved regular
churchgoer Emmanuel Buteau, a tailor. Buteau, 21, said he sang an inspirational song about how God saved one of His apostles by sending an eagle to bring him water and food.
The arrival of the rescue team was partly the result of efforts of his mother, a street vendor, who returned to the shattered apartment building and was astonished to hear her son's distant voice. "At that moment, I knew it was possible to save him," she said. Several other survivors have thanked God for “miraculously” saving their lives.
Pastor Janet of the Church of God in Port-au-Prince said God is using the tragedy to draw more people to Him. "Haiti has always been known as a nation of voodoo followers. But I'm praying that will change. Everyone in our church has been fasting since the day of the earthquake, asking the Lord to restore our nation so that we can one day be a light for Jesus."
Last week a Belgian rescue team heard a song "Jesus will save me, Jesus will save me," beneath the rubble. Moments later they sedated 28-years-old Rosemene Josiane, then sawed off her right leg and pulled her from the home that had collapsed on top of her.
Elsewhere in the area other women and children, most of whom lost everything but survived, have been heard singing "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine" after surviving the quake. And, "Many people" are coming to Christ, said Pastor Janet.
"Even before the preaching begins, people are walking forward and turning their lives over to Jesus," the pastor, who only uses one name, told the U.S.-based Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).
Her 3,000-member Church of God congregation was among the many churches destroyed by the quake. "The church building started to sway from side to side. We had 250 people there that day preparing to take baptism. We all just rushed to the door," the pastor explained. But six did not make it out in time and were reportedly killed.
However, "The Lord told me that the church had to continue despite the hardships...Now we hold these worship services in the tent area everyday," she said.
A prominent church leader also died. The body of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, 63, was found in the ruins of his office, said Reverend Pierre Le Beller of the Saint Jacques Missionary Center in Landivisiau, France.
For 41-year-old Himide Oreste and her eight children, daily church gatherings have apparently brought new life. "I decided to give my life to Jesus Christ yesterday for the first time," Oreste told CBN. "I know He saved me and my family from the earthquake."
Others like Mathurin Wislin said surviving the earthquake means a second chance. "I walked away from God many years ago, but since the earthquake, I've re-dedicated my life to Him," Wislin added.
Native and international Christian missionaries say they also want to spread "Jesus light" by providing anything from humanitarian aid, medical support, to solar-powered audio Bibles.
International groups include Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and Samaritan's Purse, the development and relief agency headed by Franklin Graham, who succeed his famous evangelist father as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Chavannes Jeune, an influential pastor and one-time presidential candidate, insisted the tragedy was God's message for worshiping "false idols'' and money. He called on Christian faiths to band together to help Haiti, reporters said. Other evangelical leaders disagree that God send the earth quake, but say He can use the disaster to reach out to people in need.
Jeune's church was attended by a guest pastor: James Glynn, of Heart of God Ministries in Chicago, who traveled to Haiti with CBN. "This is the time for God to govern the country...The president of the Haiti is now God," he reportedly said.