JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Florida Baptists, who have had a 15-year partnership with Haitian Baptists, have placed the state convention’s disaster relief team and resources on alert to travel into Haiti as soon as transportation and safety arrangements are in place, John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the convention, reported.
The Florida convention employs six indigenous directors of mission and a mission coordinator for the Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d’ Haiti (CMBH).
Fifteen Florida Baptist employees work and live in the convention’s guest house, located about 17 miles from the epicenter of the Jan. 12 earthquake that has caused massive devastation and a yet-to-be-determined loss of life.
During the past 15 years of the partnership, Florida Baptists have started 890 churches, including 95 new churches in 2009.
“Florida Baptists will do everything within our power and response to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people in Haiti and especially in our 890 churches,” Sullivan said.
In the past, the Florida Baptist Convention has provided beans and rice to Haitians after the impoverished country has been hit by hurricanes.
“But we have never had anything of this magnitude to deal with before,” Sullivan said.
“We have an assessment team prepared to go into the nation and find out the status of our missionary personnel and our compound,” he said. “We believe security is a major issue. We are working on getting our foodstuff in Miami, and are working with our network which we established in our previous disaster relief response.”
Sullivan indicated that a three-prong response effort is ahead, starting with feeding and humanitarian needs such as medical supplies. A second phase will entail assessing the damage of church facilities and the status of basic feeding efforts, followed by a third phase focused on helping churches rebuild.
Craig Culbreth, director of the Florida convention’s partnership mission department, said “Florida Baptists will be in Haiti for the long-term.” Donations for Florida Baptists Haiti earthquake relief efforts can be made online at www.flbaptist.org or sent by checks designated for Haitian Earthquake Relief to the Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32257.
Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.