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History of Haiti

Christopher Columbus, searching for a route to India, landed on Hispaniola in 1492, with his three famed ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. He landed on the north coast of Haiti, in a town now called Mole Saint Nicholas, and claimed it for the Spanish crown. The indigenous people of this Caribbean island were Arawak Indians. French buccaneers began to prey on the floundering Spanish colony, and when the French defeated Spain in Europe at the close of the 17th century, the Treaty of Ryswick named the western third of the island a French colony. While diplomatically, the nation was named a colony of France, the country itself bore its Arawak name, Haiti, which means, Land of Mountains. It is fabled that when King Ferdinand asked Columbus upon his return what Haiti looked like, the sailor crumpled a piece of paper, put it in front of the King, pointed, and said, "Like that."

The island of Hispaniola was extremely rich, so much so that it became known as the "Pearl of the Antilles." Just as India was the Crown Jewel of English colonies, Haiti became the pride and primary source of wealth for France. France began to exploit Haiti's riches, mining its gold, harvesting its sugar cane for refinement and shipping its coffee to Europe and America. The Arawak Indians were enslaved and were treated so harshly that overwork, coupled with the disease brought by Europeans, completely destroyed the Indians. The plantation owners and merchants began shipping slaves from the Guinea Coast of West Africa to the island to work. So completely were the Indians destroyed that today, unlike most of its Latin American neighbors, Haiti contains no trace of its Arawak Indian heritage.

In 1801, Toussaint Louverture led the slaves in a revolt against the French colonists. After a bloody three-year war, Haiti became the first black republic in the world. The slaves declared their independence on January 1, 1804, sacrificed a pig, and dedicated the country to Satan. From its inception, the nation has been consecrated to worshipping evil and its maker. From the time of its freedom, Haiti has been in chains.

Most Haitians subscribe to a system of beliefs known as Voodoo, whose origin is in Africa. This cult of spirits teaches that spirits reside in various forms in nature. It teaches that these spirits can be consulted for important life-decisions, and that they can be used in one's favor to help, or against another to harm. No one would deny that Haiti has been crippled by the exploitation of colonists. Yet far more devastating have been the fingers of Voodoo, clutching Haiti by the neck over the past two hundred years. In place of the One True God, Haiti serves the god of despair, lies and pride. An island full of God's sun does not know God's Son.

Sonlight Ministries exists to change the spiritual state of Haiti's people, and consequently, its economic and political states. We believe that the physical state of this poor country can only be affected by drastic change in its spiritual state. The population is approximately seven million, with a male life expectancy of 47 years; the female life expectancy is 51 years. The adult illiteracy rate hovers near 90%, the average annual income is less than $400, and unemployment rates soar. Over 75% of Haiti's population lives in poverty conditions. It is the poorest country in the world. None of these, however, is the gravest problem Haiti faces. Haiti needs Jesus. We have come to give Haiti the call the Apostle Peter says is for all Christians, the call out of darkness into His wonderful light, the light of His Son.