News Articles

Orphanage worker missing in Haiti; mission team stranded

CABARET, Haiti (BP)–A Southern Baptist worker near Port-au-Prince is still missing a day after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti Jan. 12.

Sherrie Fausey, of Jacksonville, Fla., who operates a home-based orphanage, has not been located, according to Jim Hambrick, field director for the Christian Light Foundation missions organization based in Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, a Florida missions team of 21 adults and 17 children from First Baptist Church in Oviedo, First Baptist Church in Winter Garden and The First Academy in Orlando are all accounted for, according to Jim Wadley, FBC Oviedo minister of missions.

Fausey’s home, where she cares more than 20 orphans, is located near a ministry compound operated by the Jacksonville Baptist Association (JBA) about 30 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital which sustained extensive damage and loss of life.

“We are desperate for any news,” Hambrick said. “We are very, very concerned about Sherry Fausey.”

At the JBA ministry compound, the Cabaret School, orphanage and church were mostly undamaged in the quake, except for a 250-foot section of the perimeter wall, according to Ron Rowe, JBA director of missions, and all of the workers and children at the compound have been accounted for.

The children and workers slept outside during the night while tremors continued in the region.

“We are all doing OK. The children are fine,” Pierre Prinvil, JBA’s onsite coordinator, told David Garrett in an e-mail. Garrett is the association’s director of church and community ministries. “We will need emergency funds and mission teams to help rebuild the wall,” Prinvil wrote.

Rowe said communication from the compound is made possible via satellite communication powered by generators and solar energy. The facilities, he said, were built to American standards with reinforced steel.

Hambrick said Dorothy Pearce, another missionary from Jacksonville affiliated with the Christian Light Foundation, called him immediately after the quake and said she was at Sacred Heart Hospital. She did not know what condition her home was in or if any of the 12-15 orphans she cared for there had survived.

Rowe said the ministry at the Cabaret compound encompasses more than 200 children in the school and orphanage and that people are coming from all over to the well-built facility, which they’ve opened up to provide basic shelter, food and water.

“There will be a flood of people to come in there,” Rowe said. “We will use that as a place of safety for them.”

Rowe said JBA is asking for association churches to take up a special offering on Sunday, Jan. 17. The association operates an online blog at www.jbahaiti.org/blog. As search and rescue operations continue, Rowe said the greatest needs are “basic life necessities.”

The 38-member missions team from central Florida is serving with New Missions, an Orlando-based nonprofit ministry which operates churches, schools and medical clinics. Tim DeTellis, worship pastor at First Baptist Church in Winter Garden, is New Missions’ president.

Wadley said the compound where the team was staying is in the Leogane Valley, about 20 miles south of Port-au-Prince and about five miles from the epicenter of the quake.

“There were no injuries,” Wadley said. “Everyone is safe.”

A spokesperson said the team slept outside during the night as a precaution because the extent to which the buildings at that site were damaged is not known.

The team includes six adults from FBC Oviedo: Barry Edwards, children’s minister; Gary and Stephanie Bowers, children’s Sunday School teachers; Duane More, AWANAs leader; Debbie Lynn, children’s Sunday School teacher; and Josh Felix, FBC Oviedo video effects designer. Three adults and six students from FBC Winter Park include youth pastor Keith Yarbrough and Leslie Hurlebaus, assistant. Three adults and six students are from First Baptist Academy.

Plans were cancelled today for an additional missions group that was slated to travel to Haiti from FBC Orlando.

Wadley said the New Missions team was in Haiti to distribute shoeboxes to children containing educational supplies and toys. Pointing to the poverty in Haiti, he said after traveling to Africa, in comparison, “Haiti makes Africa look like New York City.” In those boxes, he said, were more possessions than Haitian children had “in the entire world.”

New Missions, as well as other organizations, will be challenged by the logistics of providing aid in a country where there is only one good main road and there is no infrastructure to speak of, Wadley said. Plans were for the team to return on Saturday, although a press release from New Missions said all of the flights have been cancelled. For more information on New Missions, go online to: Newmissions.org.

“This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see not only God’s love, but God’s forgiveness and salvation,” Wadley said. “I ask for prayer for those who have lost loved ones and for those who are sharing the Gospel and as they meet people’s needs as well.”
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness (www.gofbw.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist State Convention.

    About the Author

  • Joni B. Hannigan