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Medical teams to lead Haiti response

HIALEAH, Fla. (BP)–The joint Southern Baptist response to the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake will launch in the coming week with four “strategically-selected” medical teams, leaders of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Network decided Jan. 26 at the Florida Urban Impact Center in Hialeah, Fla.

Plans to respond to Haiti’s urgent, intermediate and long-term needs were addressed at the meeting by assessment teams that had just returned from the quake-ravaged nation along with representatives from the Florida Baptist Convention, North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, Baptist Global Response and other Southern Baptist disaster relief representatives.

The group wrestled with logistical arrangements and how to send mission teams and respond to needs in a country where transportation and in-country support for teams is extremely difficult. Access to airports and shipping docks remains highly restricted, the teams reported.

“At this point, all we can sleep safely in Prince-au-Prince is 55,” said Cecil Seagle, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s mission division.

The group decided the next step will be to send four “strategically-selected” medical teams through the Dominican Republic to Haiti next week along with two representatives from the Florida convention who will continue to make arrangements for trained disaster relief teams to travel in and out of the country.

Another meeting to discuss the logistics of getting additional response teams into Haiti will be held in Atlanta Feb. 11-12, the group decided.

“Once we get the mechanisms in place, we will have numbers of teams in there, week in and week out,” said Mickey Caison, who directs disaster relief coordination for the North American Mission Board.

“One of the things I am very excited about is that the four entities came together around Southern Baptist disaster relief to develop plans to respond to the disaster in Haiti,” Caison added. “I believe God is going to do something real good through all of us working together in Haiti. Through it, all our efforts will be touching lives, changing lives and giving hope. Our purpose is to carry the message of hope found in Jesus Christ.”

The group acknowledged that Southern Baptists are passionate about responding to the immediate needs in Haiti and urged patience as they try to solve logistical nightmares.

The disaster relief workers also sought to communicate to Southern Baptists that the response will be long-term in helping Haitians rebuild their lives and communities.

In the meantime, churches can minister to Haitians in their own communities and pray for people in Haiti who are afraid to return to the homes that are still standing because of the danger posed by aftershocks.

In a project led by Florida Baptists, “Buckets of Hope” will be purchased and assembled for Haitian families, providing five-gallon buckets packed with rice, cooking oil, black beans, flour, sugar, spaghetti noodles and peanut butter. Even after Haitians use the supplies, the bucket can serve multiple uses for a family.

“Other relief agencies in Haiti are running a 100-yard dash; we are running a marathon,” said Fritz Wilson, disaster relief director for the Florida Baptist Convention.
Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention (www.flbaptist.org).

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 Florida Baptist Convention has established a Haiti earthquake relief fund, available online at www.flbaptist.org. Donations also may be sent to Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32257. Designate on check “Haitian Earthquake relief.” For more information, call 800-226-8584 800-226-8584 , ext. 3135; or 904-596-3135 904-596-3135 .

— 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.”

— 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.

    About the Author

  • Barbara Denman

    Barbara Denman is communications editor for the Florida Baptist Convention. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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