The downfall of Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in February 1986 brought the hope of a better life to many in the impoverished Caribbean nation. However, economic woes have continued, the interim military government has come under increasing criticism, and an atmosphere of violence has taken over many areas of the island nation.

Elections to choose a civilian president are scheduled for later this month, but the weeks leading up to the election have been rife with riots, arrests, strikes, random killings, and the assassinations of political leaders. Claude Noel, general secretary of the Council of Evangelical Churches in Haiti, says the turmoil has interfered with the work of those trying to meet the desperate physical and spiritual needs of the people. CHRISTIANITY TODAY asked Dave Disch, news editor of Light and Life magazine, to interview Noel about the current tensions in Haiti.

How have public demonstrations and the threat of violence affected churches in Haiti?

Several denominations have had to cancel large gatherings and conventions. I usually speak at several gatherings within our church council, but this year I have not been to any. The schools close whenever there is violence, so the Bible schools have to close as well. And a few times we did not hold church services because the roads were barricaded. You couldn’t cross the barricades without risking violence.

What has happened to the church leaders who were associated with the Duvalier regime?

Some of them had to leave, because the people chased them out of town. In denominational churches, the denominations moved those pastors to other areas. We hope they will be able to return after a civilian government is elected.

What about pastors who were ...

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