Haiti Earthquake: A Church Responds
Ronald E. Pearce
Now the attention is on recovery and rebuilding. But where to start when everything needs to be done—rebuilding infrastructure to medical treatment of the 250,000 injured and diseased, to providing shelter and safety for the 1.5 million or more left homeless? The total destruction and widespread chaos are slowing the aid reaching the people. With a non-functioning government and no infrastructure in place the distribution of food and supplies has been very difficult. Port-au-Prince's overloaded airport and crippled seaport are severely straining relief efforts to get assistance to the needy.
We are prayerfully preparing our church's response to this need. Plans are underway to send an assessment team to Haiti this week (or next depending on when the team can get flights) to assess the needs and make plans for the OPC's response. The team comprises OPC missionary Ben Hopp, David Nakhla of the Committee on Diaconal Ministries (CDM) and PCA medical doctor Gordon Zubrod. David Haney of CDM writes, "They are heading to Haiti to spend about five days in the country to make contact with associated missionaries and pastors. Once this team returns we will be better positioned to make plans for future assistance." All diaconal work is done as a coordinated effort with (and only with the approval of) the Committee on Foreign Missions. We will inform the church when it is time for teams to head to Haiti to help.
A couple of days ago, we heard from one of the pastors on Lagonav with whom our mission has worked, that perhaps as many as 25,000 people have fled to the island from the Haiti mainland. Before the earthquake, the total population of the island was estimated to be somewhere between 100,000 and 120,000, and the influx has placed an even greater demand on the already depleted food supply. So we are working on sending a shipment of food directly to the needy of Lagonav. If this works, we can send more relief aid this way. Questions have been asked if churches can collect food and have the OPC ship it. The answer is, it is better to send cash for food staples to be purchased. Food that is collected in the States is not familiar to the Haitian diet. It is better for us to purchase and ship food the Haitians would use, such as rice, beans and cooking oil.
When distributing disaster relief the CDM always tries to send funds through our OPC missionaries or through another church in that country if we do not have our own missionaries there. These local and indigenous churches then distribute aid to their community, to believers and unbelievers alike as they think best. The aid goes to the local churches and they minister to their community in the name of Christ to all. We want disaster funds to be administered by believers, to help avoid graft and waste. We make sure that needs of believers are cared for as a priority, and we also are generous to care for unbelievers in Christ's name. CDM gives disaster relief through the local indigenous churches so they can minister generously to the needy in their communities, to believers and unbelievers, to show the compassion of Christ in Word and deed.
CDM would ask:
- Please pray for this assessment team, for all the logistics, safety and health in traveling to Haiti at this time. Pray for the safe arrival and distribution of food to Lagonav. Pray above all things that through all of this our God might receive the glory due his name. Pray also for the salvation of his elect.
- If your church or presbytery is planning to send a team and would have room for others to join you, please contact David Haney who is co-ordinating teams to go. Contact David by email not phone.
- If your church or presbytery is not sending team but you would like to join a team, you can also contact David Haney and he can match you up with a team. Contact David by email not phone.
- If you anticipate that you would be available to go to help in the near future, you can prepare by getting your shots and passport up to date. Under the circumstances additional immunizations may be needed. Contact an immunologist for the current requirements for Haiti. Visas for Haiti are given upon arrival in Haiti without charge.
As information is available we post it for information and for prayer.
Donations to CDM can be sent to:
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
607 N. Easton Rd., Bldg. E
Willow Grove, PA 19090-2539
Clearly indicate that the gift is for "CDM / Haiti earthquake."
Rev. Ronald E. Pearce reports for the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries.
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