PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (BP)–A pastor’s wife — gravely injured in Haiti’s massive Jan. 12 earthquake — faced certain death when doctors at a makeshift field hospital could do nothing more to help her and she had been denied transport to a U.S. Navy medical ship anchored off Port-au-Prince. All Milton Perry could do was break the news to her husband.
But when Perry, a professional counselor serving in Haiti as a volunteer from First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., spoke to the woman’s grieving husband, the pastor asked if they could pray together.
“He said it would take a miracle to save his wife,” Perry recalled. “He looked at me and said, ‘Will you pray for that miracle?'” The two men knelt together and cried out to God.
Less than an hour later, a helicopter from the medical ship arrived to pick up patients. After loading, the crew realized they had room for one more person. The pastor’s wife was loaded onto the helicopter and doctors said her chance of survival immediately increased to about 95 percent.
“One thing we all learned in Haiti was to rely on God,” Perry said.
First Baptist Woodstock sent 164 volunteers into Haiti on six relief teams in the three months following the quake, according to a press statement released by the church. More than $270,104 has been donated to the relief effort, along with $250,000 in medical supplies. Medical professionals on the teams delivered three babies, set hundreds of broken bones and treated more than 3,000 patients in all. The church’s long-term plan for Haiti relief includes rebuilding projects and work with orphanages in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel.
LA., TEXAS BAPTISTS LOAD SHIPPING CONTAINER FOR HAITI — A Southern Baptist layman in Louisiana pressed through the logistical nightmare of shipping relief supplies into Haiti in the aftermath of the massive Jan. 12 earthquake there. The result was an outpouring of support from Southern Baptist churches, local businesses, schools and organizations in two states to help rebuild facilities for a Haitian ministry.
Johnny Huffman and his wife Sissie, who run Fairhaven Children’s Home in Covington, La., had experience with shipping supplies to needy areas of the world and understood the challenges involved in delivering a cargo container of supplies to a specific location after a massive disaster like the Haiti earthquake, according to a report in the Louisiana Baptist Message. The thought of Haiti’s homeless, suffering people moved him to tackle the challenge.
Working with Gary Chambers, pastor of Church of the Living Waters in Huffman, Texas, Huffman began organizing a container of supplies for Good Shepherd’s Love, an outreach in Haiti that includes a church, an orphanage, a school and a medical clinic. Murrey Rabenhorst, minister of global outreach for Longview (Texas) Christian Fellowship, also joined the effort.
Local businesses, schools and other organizations in both states began contributing money, tents, food, baby formula, medicine and building materials. The $7,500 cost of shipping the container was donated by one man who had been praying about what he could do to help in Haiti. A couple who had dropped by to see the Huffmans donated $3,000 to send a commercial cement mixer. In late February, volunteers loaded the container with 45,000 pounds of supplies, including 10,000 pounds of rebar, jack hammers, a generator, medical supplies, clothing, food, tents and tarps. Chambers planned to travel to Haiti to be sure the container got to its intended destination. A second container was scheduled to follow.
“If this doesn’t speak volumes about the American Christian spirit of giving and serving, then I don’t know what does. I believe there is no limit in what can be accomplished when the body of Christ works together,” Huffman told the Baptist Message. “We praise God for working things out as He did.”
HAITIAN TRANSLATOR NOT ‘TOO BIG OF A SINNER’ — Jay Johnston began sharing the Gospel with more than 200 people waiting in line for medical care at a Haitian church serving as a makeshift hospital staffed by a Louisiana Baptist volunteer team. Working with his translator Dorval and an evangelistic tract in French from the North American Mission Board, “I told them that we came because of Jesus Christ and that Jesus loves them and that we love them and we are honored to serve them today,” Johnson, associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington, La., recounted.
Johnston next turned his attention to helping the doctors who were part of the team that traveled to Haiti in late February.
“In between helping out I was asking my translator about his personal relationship with Jesus Christ and he told me he needed to have such a relationship but was too big of a sinner,” said Johnston, a recent employee of LifeWay Christian Resources. “I shared with him that we are all sinners and that is why we need Jesus. I can tell you that Dorval accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord.”
Numerous aftershocks were felt by the Louisianans, Johnston said. “We had at least five on Thursday and I confess it rattles your bones.”
Yet worship abounded among the Haitians. “As we were preparing to leave for our mission site today [Friday, Feb. 26], we could hear the sounds of people worshipping the Lord Jesus from an evangelical church about five to seven blocks from where we are located in Haiti.
“It was a beautiful sound as the people sang and the preacher proclaimed the story of Jesus,” Johnston said.
During the weeklong trip, the Louisiana team “had the opportunity to see the Lord of the Harvest bring forth 77 salvations. The medical team saw 1,482 patients and the church visitation team visited 15 churches and over 100 homes,” Johnston reported.
MISS. MEDICAL TEAMS SEE 3,000 PATIENTS — Three teams of medical personnel from the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board treated more than 3,000 patients and distributed about 30,000 prescriptions during trips to Haiti following the earthquake.
Kay Cassibry, executive director of the Mississippi Woman’s Missionary Union, was the leader of the first medical team, which set up a clinic in a church in Port-au-Prince.
“The first day we rode up to the church, and it was Sunday,” Cassibry told The Baptist Record. “We heard them outside singing before we even got there. I’ve never heard ‘How Great Thou Art’ sung like that.”
The team set up an intensive care unit, which was basically a tarp strung across the corner of a room. During that first visit, the team saw more than 1,200 patients, “and those were just the ones we were able to count,” Cassibry said.
“It was amazing to see these doctors and nurses at work,” she said. “God will put you in a place where you never thought He could use you.”
Dan Edney, a physician and member of First Baptist Church in Vicksburg, praised the Mississippi Baptist disaster relief effort.
“The prayers of all of you and everybody back home were powerfully felt, powerfully needed and powerfully effective,” he told participants at a disaster relief training event in March.
“I’ve been in some dark places working before, but this one was different. Haiti is a dark place on a good day, and it is not a good day right now. You had a sense you were working in a mausoleum. You have to remember that in less than 40 seconds over 200,000 people were obliterated,” Edney said, according to The Baptist Record.
“You come face to face with someone Christ died for, and that someone is hurting. That someone is starving. We have effective medicine, but we couldn’t treat everybody. We couldn’t provide water for everybody. You could see the hunger in their eyes and the pain in their faces.
“Port-au-Prince has about a million-and-a-half people left in it,” Edney said. “There’s no way to get anything done. They barely have the roads clear. They are trying to get as many people out as they can before the rainy season hits.”
FLA. CHURCH GIVES 100% TO HAITI — While some Southern Baptist churches were giving 10 percent or 20 percent of their Jan. 17 offerings for the relief effort in Haiti, pastor David Hughes of Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Fla., couldn’t find any peace about the idea. After seeking God in prayer, he decided to ask the congregation to give 100 percent of the week’s offering to needs in Haiti.
“We have members who are of Haitian heritage and with our close proximity in South Florida to Haiti, we wanted to demonstrate radical, if not reckless generosity,” Hughes said. “Our people stepped up to the challenge.”
By Jan. 20, the congregation had given $158,000, including $35,000 in cash during the church’s seven weekend worship services — nearly double their weekly offering receipts, according to an article released by the Florida Baptist Convention. Because the church doesn’t normally take up offerings during their services, they had to pull out baskets, plates and bowls to receive the money.
Although the church runs nearly 5,000 in weekly attendance, “we do not have a big, fat reserve. We work on a two-and-a-half week margin,” Hughes said. “But something of this scope and humanitarian need challenged us to go beyond what we can afford.”
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly, staff writer Erin Roach and editor Art Toalston.