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DR DIGEST: BGCT serves in Haiti; States partner to help Texas panhandle

Recent unraveling of the political situation in Haiti has brought on the need for immediate hunger relief, said Ernie Rice of Stockdale, who has worked as Texans on Mission's ministry partner in Haiti more than 13 years. When Rice sent a fund transfer to a local pastor, the minister used the money to distribute food and supplies to church members on Easter Sunday. Photo courtesy of Texans on Mission

Texans on Mission respond to urgent needs in Haiti

By Ferrell Foster/Texans on Mission

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (BP) – Serving people in need sometimes requires a change in plans. Texans on Mission’s long-time ministry partner in Haiti shifted gears in recent days to respond to immediate hunger needs.

“Hunger has not been our focus” in Haiti, said Ernie Rice of Stockdale, Texas. “But right now, it is just a desperate situation. … Haiti is full of hungry people.”

“There is incredible need right now in Haiti,” said Mickey Lenamon, CEO/executive director of Texans on Mission, historically known as Texas Baptist Men. “We have long-standing partners there who are meeting needs in the name of Christ, and we’re coming alongside them to multiply ministry.”

Rice’s work in Haiti began through TBM’s response to a 2010 earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people. Since then his nonprofit – Good for Haiti – has focused on working with a church in the mountains by supporting general and technical education, along with strengthening the Christian presence in an area once dominated by voodoo practices.

‘Gangs are in total control’ of Haiti’s capital

Recent unraveling of the political situation in Haiti has brought on the need for immediate hunger relief, he said. Gangs have seized control of transportation and communications infrastructure in the Caribbean country.

“The gangs are in total control” in the capital, Port-au-Prince, Rice said.

The Guardian newspaper reported April 1: “A month after a coalition of criminal groups called ‘Viv Ansanm’ (Live Together) plunged Haiti’s capital into chaos with an audacious offensive against the state, the fighting continues – and in recent days has begun shifting to places long considered oases of calm.”

Rice’s work is in one of the oases of calm, at least for now.

“We’re just sending funds now before banks shut down,” he said. “We dumped everything we had” into Haiti in recent days, Rice said of an initial fund transfer sent to the church.

As a result, the pastor distributed food and supplies to church members after its Easter worship service.

Texans on Mission has sent more funds to support the immediate need, he said.

The situation is so volatile, the ministry does not send additional funds into Haiti until it confirms the pastor has earlier funds “in hand.”

Read the full story here.

SBTC DR gives huge thank you to Arkansas Baptists for hay donations

By Mary Alford/Arkansas Baptist News

TEXAS PANHANDLE (BP) – Following the largest wildfire in Texas history, Arkansans are helping collect and transport rounds of hay to aid impacted ranchers and farmers.  

“Our goal has been to bless the ranching families of the Texas Panhandle and Western Oklahoma that suffered devastating losses in the recent Smokehouse Creek and Double Deuce fires,” Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) Disaster Relief Director Scottie Stice said. He said it has been a cooperative effort with state disaster relief teams from Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Mexico and SBTC. They have also had the help of Send Relief and the Salvation Army.   

“None of us could have accomplished this by ourselves,” he said.  

Some hay has been purchased, but the majority has been donated with most of it coming out of northwest Arkansas.    

 “With the load that is currently enroute to Pampa, we have delivered 1,370 bales to the Texas Panhandle,” Stice said March 27. “Hay has been dropped in Canadian and Pampa.  We have two loads heading to Borger next week. Ranchers in the Panhandle are most appreciative of the donated hay and transportation.” 

Steve Bartholomew, a rancher in northwest Arkansas, recently collected more than 2,000 bales of hay to be delivered to the ranchers affected by the fires in Texas and Oklahoma.  

“It’s all I’ve done. Sixty-four years old and all I’ve done my whole life is ranching. It hit home with me because I know what it would be like if it was here,” Bartholomew said.  

Along with his passion for ranching, a few words from Bartholomew’s 7-year-old grandson provided extra motive to act and help those affected by the wildfires.  

“[My grandson] said, ‘I’ve got $29, and I want to buy them ranchers some hay,’” he said. Bartholomew rustled up a team of guys he knew, and they got to work. He said they had two loads of hay heading west on Monday, April 1.

On April 7, at the Fairgrounds in Fayetteville, starting around 1 p.m., Bartholomew said they are hosting an event with food, games, and animals. During the event, they will be accepting donations for ranchers and farmers affected by the wildfires.  

There were potentially 65,000 head of cattle impacted by the wildfires.  

“Last count I saw was that 7,000 did not survive the fire,” Stice said. “Some cattle have been moved to grazing in Kansas and Nebraska.  While we do not have a count, estimates are that thousands are still in pastures in the Panhandle needing hay.”

Read the full story here.

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