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Prayers urged for Louisiana Reach Haiti staff members trapped in Port-au-Prince

Louisiana Reach Haiti's Children's Village is located in Cap Haitien, a city located 85 miles north of Port-au-Prince Haiti. The ministry is a partnership between the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Haiti Baptist Convention, Louisiana Baptist churches and the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries. LRH photo

CAP HAITIEN, Haiti (BP) – Urgent prayers have been issued for the safe return of two Louisiana Reach Haiti Children’s Village staff members who are trapped in Port-au-Prince, capital city of a country that has seen a rapid increase in gang activity.

Ministry president Darrin Badon told the Baptist Message that the staff members were visiting family members when the most recent explosion of violence occurred and have been trapped since.

Badon said that the children and other staff at the Children’s Village are safe in Cap Haitien, a city 85 miles north of Port-au-Prince. However, he said the airport in the city is closed, and they are starting to see shortages of food and goods that come from Port-au-Prince.

The ministry is a partnership between the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Haiti Baptist Convention, Louisiana Baptist churches and the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries.

“There are no flights or bus service, so the two staff members can’t get out of Port-au-Prince,” Badon said. “This is our biggest prayer request now. Pray for these two ladies to remain safe, for God to meet their physical needs and for God to find a way to get them back to Cap Haitien.”

According to the Associated Press, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced March 12 that he would resign once a transitional presidential council is created. Henry, who arrived in Puerto Rico a week ago, has been unable to enter Haiti because recent violence closed the country’s main international airports.

Gangs have burned police stations, attacked the country’s main airport and raided two of the nation’s largest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

Additionally, more than 15,000 Haitians are homeless after leaving neighborhoods raided by gangs.

Permanent presence

In 2015, a Louisiana Baptist team felt led to create a permanent presence in Haiti and partnered with Pastor Odvald Louis and his members at New Evangelical Baptist Church in Croix-Des-Bouquets. The Haitian congregation and Louisiana mission teams combined to complete a Children’s Village in Croix-des-Bouquets. They also teamed up to dig a well and build a church building and school in neighboring Canaan.

However, the facilities in both cities were overtaken and vandalized by gangs in early 2022, Badon said.

LRH then refocused its ministry on multiple fronts:

  • In February 2022, escalating gang violence forced the Children’s Village to relocate to the Florida House, a Florida Baptist Convention-owned home for missionaries in Port-au-Prince. The facility housed 21 children and six staff members. After more than a year at the Florida House the gangs starting closing in on this area as well.
  • Meanwhile God opened doors in New Orleans, allowing LRH leaders to help relocate Pastor Odvald Louis and his family from Haiti, which he fled after surviving an attempt on his life.
  • Additionally, LRH began partnering with Connect International Church, a congregation in New Orleans that in April 2022 formed and hosted an international church (led by a Haitian American graduate Pastor Dawest Louis of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) that reaches out to Haitians and other nationalities. In July 2022 and 2023, LRH partnered with Fellowship Church, Prairieville, and worked with this newly formed congregation to conduct Vacation Bible School for more than 30 children.

Thankful Heart

Badon is thankful for God’s hand over the children and staff throughout the many years of unrest in Haiti.

Children’s Village Director Antonio Auguste was kidnapped by gang members in Port-Au-Prince in March 2023 but miraculously was released three weeks later.

On July 1, 2023, Badon flew into the Cap Haitien, Haiti, and met with a small group of Haitians to prepare a new rental home for the children and staff. On July 4, Auguste, the staff and children loaded on a bus and traveled from Port-au-Prince to the new Children’s Village home near Cap Haitien, where they have remained.

This article originally appeared in the Baptist Message.

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