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Long-term Haiti commitment ahead

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Southern Baptists’ response to the Haiti earthquake will be a long-term commitment, much like the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to Baptist leaders.

“Katrina was in 2005 and four years later, we’re still involved,” said Bruce Poss, the North American Mission Board’s national disaster relief coordinator. “This will be a long-term commitment to the people of Haiti.”

John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, which has had a 15-year partnership with Haitian Baptists, advised Baptists to be patient as disaster relief plans are formulated.

“If you have never been to Haiti, it will be difficult for you to understand the security and infrastructure issues,” said Sullivan, who traveled to Haiti last September and 14 other times in previous years.

In preparation for beginning relief work in Haiti, the Florida convention has purchased 21 tons of rice to be transported to Miami and readied for shipment to Haiti.

Mickey Caison, NAMB’s adult volunteer mobilization team leader, said only fully trained, experienced disaster relief volunteers will be enlisted in the initial disaster relief response plan.

“Volunteers must be in extremely good health because there will be hardship. We don’t know what types of living conditions will exist for the time being. Volunteers must also pay their own way,” Caison said.

“As we transition to longer-term operations, more state missions teams — as identified by the state conventions — will be needed. People interested in volunteering eventually need to be contacting their state conventions,” Caison said.

Caison said Southern Baptist DR workers are maintaining close contact with partners in the Christian Response Coalition, a group including Samaritan’s Purse, The Salvation Army, World Vision, Habitat for Humanity, Operation Blessing and the United Methodist Church.

“We’re talking with each other on a daily conference call to learn what’s being accomplished, what they’re seeing and where the other teams are. We just want to make sure the gaps are being filled and needs are being met.”

Caison said the main thing Southern Baptists can do right now is to pray and give.

“We need to be in prayer for the earthquake victims and their families, and the believers in Haiti who are ministering to the survivors,” Caison said.
Reported by Mickey Noah, a writer for the North American Mission Board, and Barbara Denman, director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.

Southern Baptists can contribute to “Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief” through their local church or directly to their state convention, the North American Mission Board (www.namb.net) or the International Mission Board (www.imb.org):

— The North American Mission Board has set up a Haiti disaster relief fund that will direct money to state conventions and other Southern Baptists who are doing relief work in Haiti. Donations may be made online, www.NAMB.net, by phone, 1-866-407-6262, or by mail, North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Make checks payable to “Haiti Disaster Relief Fund/NAMB.”

— Online, donations to Florida Baptists’ efforts for Haiti earthquake relief can be made at www.flbaptist.org, or to Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32257. Designate checks for “Haitian Earthquake Relief.” For more information, call 1-800-226-8584, ext. 3135, or 904-596-3135.

— Initial funding for the relief effort will come from the International Mission Board’s disaster relief fund. Contributions can be made online, www.imb.org, or by mail, International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.

Regardless of the SBC channel, all funds received for this purpose will go to relief efforts; none will be used for administrative costs.

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