It was 8:30 a.m. when Peniel felt the shaking. Flashbacks from the earthquake 11 years prior came rushing back as he fled from his small room, twisting his back. He felt a pop, but that was secondary. He knew he had to get out of the building before it collapsed on him. Was this another big one? Haiti is no stranger to these disastrous seismic waves.
Although the earthquake could be felt in Port-au-Prince, Peniel learned later that the epicenter was 78 miles west and not far from two of Radio Lumiere’s 13 radio stations. Radio Lumiere, which is French for Radio of Light, is a ministry SonSet Solutions has worked with for decades. It is a beacon of gospel truth covering most of the country of Haiti.
As the only ministry engineer, Peniel knew he needed to assess the damage to the studios and provide assistance where needed, despite his pain. There was no time for rest. Word had arrived that one of their program directors from the station at Cayes had been killed; while doing a remote broadcast, the church he was in collapsed. Many more staff were injured and experienced serious damage to their homes.
There were more challenges facing Peniel. Fuel was already scarce and expensive, and armed gangs controlled major roads en route. Adding to the frustration, Tropical Storm Grace barrelled in two days later, dumping 10 inches of rain and hampering any rescue and relief efforts with the ensuing floods and mudslides.
Under armed escort, Peniel finally arrived at the studio in Cayes. He discovered it was damaged but still usable. Unfortunately, the staff refused to go inside. Aftershocks continued to perpetuate fear. Peniel helped to build a temporary tent in front of the studio so they could operate the broadcasts from there. Additional damage was discovered at the transmitter site. Subsequently, he learned that both the studio and transmitter in the city of Jeremie had been destroyed.
Radio Lumiere faces the daunting challenge of rebuilding these facilities. Please pray for Peniel and his team as they restore this beacon of light for communities struggling in this devastated area of Haiti.
Written by Erica Simone, August 2021, sonsetsolutions.org