Seattle pastor returns to Haiti
Mark Driscoll prepares to speak at a Haitian worship service on the one-year anniversary of the quake
January 19th, 2011
08:33 AM ET

Seattle pastor returns to Haiti

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll is frustrated with the situation in Haiti. Last week, he returned from his second trip to the devastated country.

"It’s awful to see the lack of progress and awesome to see the spirit of the people there," he said.

On the morning of the one year anniversary of the earthquake, he joined with Haitian pastors at a memorial service in front of the National Palace, which is still in ruins.

"The president was going to have a memorial event that night so they rented it to us for $3,000," Driscoll said. He estimates between 40,000 and 50,000 people came to the service. Driscoll said he spoke for five minutes and wanted to let the people there know he and his church back home are standing behind them.

Driscoll first went to Haiti in the days immediately after the earthquake. When he returned, he and pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel outside of Chicago set up Churches Helping Churches, which connects churches in the United States with Haitian ones.

“We can fly in and out and fly aid in, but that’s their home - they’re going to know what the best allocation of resources is going to be,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll says Mars Hill Church, his independent church of 10,000-plus members, is partnering with Jean FE St. Cyr, a Haitian pastor who lost his home and his church building but has continued his services amid the rubble.

It is partnerships such as the one with Cyr that Driscoll says have historically had the biggest impact for churches like his, staying involved one on one, long after the spotlight is gone.

He said his charity isn't looking to compete with the other charities and nonprofits that are working in Haiti. "We brought $1.7 million in medical supplies, and we gave those to existing clinics. We want to be on the supply line, we don't want to compete with anyone," he said.

“We’re going to keep raising money. Just like every organization, we’ll keep going until the money runs out,” Driscoll says.

To keep overhead low, they are relying on volunteers and only have one paid staff member.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, Driscoll's church was much smaller and did not jump into the relief efforts with the same gusto they have with their mission to Haiti.

"I think organizationally we were at a point [when the Haiti earthquake happened] where we could be more efficient. As a church grows and has more resources, it has more responsibility. 'To whom much is given much is expected,' ” Driscoll said quoting Jesus.

The 40-year-old Driscoll is the preaching and theology pastor of Seattle's fast-growing Mars Hill Church, which began in 1996 as a small Bible study group. Today, they have 40 pastors on staff and 26 services spread across nine locations.

Driscoll preaches live at one location and a video of his sermon is piped into the other services, which have their own musicians leading worship and all the other trimmings of regular church service, sans a live preacher. Driscoll also has a sizable internet following on Twitter and Facebook, and his sermons are among the most popular on iTunes.

Despite the professional growth, Driscoll says he is trying to keep his personal life low-key. He said there aren't plans for a private jet or vacation homes. He said he's turned down three reality show offers, and he's not interested in getting rich.

"My goal is not to screw this up. I want a very boring testimony," he said. “I married my high school sweetheart. We have five great kids. And I don’t want to be a train wreck, I want to keep this thing normal.”

His motto for making that happen, "Keep it boring. Just keep it boring. Boring is awesome.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Leaders • Pastors • United States • Washington

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Some nice research you're fenfriog us here, Jaap. Thanks! I hope it inspires a lot of people to help in any way they can and to add their views on this topic in the comments

    April 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  2. Dsl uncorrected blocks 2wire

    Digital subscriber line internet companies provide bandwith over the telephone. Digital subscriber line originally stood for digital prospect never-ending loop however is now commonly referred to as digital camera customer series …dsl

    February 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  3. GlyncGuThnulp

    sokat tanultam

    March 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  4. Jean Marrapodi

    This situation is not unlike what continues in New Orleans, and other disaster stricken areas. Rebuilding takes time –lots of it– and as consumers of news we hear about something, and move on. We may or may not take action to help. Haiti had such a weak infrastructure to start with it's going to take that much longer to restore it because in essence, much is starting from scratch. Bravo for those who help, and return to continue helping, enlisting others to help.

    January 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  5. Nicholas Voss

    The Christians and the entrepreneurs (business people) can get things done, but the government aid programs are utter failures. Go figure.

    You would think that if someone powerful and influential like Bill Clinton were involved that things would be getting along a little faster. But no, not even Bill Clinton can help Haiti. Only a preacher can.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  6. Apostle Eric vonAnderseck

    His motto for making that happen, "Keep it boring. Just keep it boring. Boring is awesome.”
    Apostle Eric says; Is this his perspective of God’s kingdom and promises? http://apostlestoday.net/

    January 20, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2010: (updated based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary.

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


      January 20, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Anglican

      Reality. It is obvious to me that you are painfully stuck in postmodernity. So much deconstruction. Do you build or build upon anything?

      January 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  7. Reality

    "Jesus is the only hope we have in this world." Hmmm??

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    "Heaven is a Spirit state" as per JPII and Aquinas i.e. there can be no bodies. i.e. there was and never will be any physical resurrection/ascension of human bodies."

    And is it not ironical that JPII along with Aquinas are the ones who put meaning to the words "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless."

    January 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      how do you make the jump from "Heaven is a Spirit state" to there can be no bodies

      Verse Heaven is a state control by the Spirit who can raise His only begotten Son.

      Research "Heaven is a Spirit state"

      January 20, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Read the whole passage

      That scripture is taken out of context. It is a kind of sarcasm. but since Christ was raised, we should have faith.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  8. Sean

    And people think that Christianity is the problem today. Jesus is the only hope we have in this world.

    January 19, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "And people think that Christianity is the problem today. Jesus is the only hope we have in this world."

      God/Jesus isn't doing anything in the world today.

      People, feeling empathy for the less fortunate, are doing good things. Religious and secular.
      Scientist, with their thirst for knowledge, are doing good things for people today.

      Sympathy for others has evolved along with human intellect. No god needed.

      Show me one piece of rubble that was moved by prayer. Show me one amputee that got back their leg. Show me one person that was raised from the dead. Show me any proof in the world, of your god's actions.

      If god so loves the world, why did He allow the earthquake in the first place? LOL

      Believers are delusional. They use selective observation, to prove to themselves their beliefs are justified.

      Love and Prayers!

      January 20, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  9. civiloutside

    A very close personal friend is going to Haiti today, where she is working to set up treatment for children traumatized by the events of the earthquake and it's aftermath. This is her third trip. On the previous two, she survived an attempted murder (by a man who believed being imprisoned for killing one of the volunteers would be better than living in the camps) and a mugging that left her with a broken arm. But still she goes back, because she's committed to helping those kids.

    January 19, 2011 at 10:49 am |
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.