With Haiti still in ruins 10 months after a devastating earthquake, it might seem like a strange time to celebrate a Biblical act of destruction.
Yet thousands of Haitians filled Notre Dame d'Haiti Cathedral last night to do just that, uniting for the 9th annual Jericho spiritual revival in Little Haiti.
"It's about tearing down the walls in our heart and renewing our faith," said the Rev. Reginald Jean-Mary.
"After 10 months, you can tell people feel dispirited," he added. "Jericho is about boosting their sense of hope."
The revival was a joyous affair, despite the fresh memories of the horrific Jan. 12 earthquake that killed at least 230,000 and left more than a million Haitians homeless. More than 5,000 Haitians and Haitian-Americans filed around the cathedral Sunday evening, raising their hands above their heads to cast off the worries of another difficult year.
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In the Bible, the Israelites marched around Jericho for seven days, blowing their trumpets. On the last day, the walls crumbled and the Israelites swept through the city, killing its inhabitants. In a sermon in Creole, Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski referred to the battle as a template for present-day spiritual struggles.
Although he made few references to the earthquake, the catastrophe was on most parishioners' minds.
"Haitians are a happy people," said 69-year-old Louis Paul. "But right now we have so many problems."
"America has forgotten about Haiti," he added. "See how people are putting their hands on their heads? That's because their problems are too heavy for them alone. We need God to help."