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UPDATE: Louisiana Reach Haiti celebrates safe return of staff members

Louisiana Reach Haiti female staff members Celanie and Netdjie escaped from Port-au-Prince on March 26, 2024. Standing with them is Beoda, Celanie's son. Submitted photo

CAP HAITIEN, Haiti (LBM) – Four weeks after they became trapped in Port-au-Prince, two staff members of Louisiana Reach Haiti (LRH) have made it safely to the ministry’s Children’s Village in Cap Haitien.

Darrin Badon, president of Louisiana Reach Haiti, said the women left on a bus from the capital city early March 26 and took the eight-hour bus ride for a long-awaited reunion with the children and staff at the Children’s Village. They had been living in a relative’s home since March 4, when gang activity forced them to remain inside the house.

Badon expressed gratitude for the many prayers on behalf of the women and the children and other staff of Louisiana Reach Haiti, a partnership between the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Haiti Baptist Convention, Louisiana Baptist churches and the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries. The Baptist Message published an article on March 16 regarding Badon’s plea for prayers on behalf of the staff members.

“God protected them while they were there with family,” Badon told the Baptist Message. “By His grace, we got them out of there today. The kids and staff were elated to see them. Lots of hugs were exchanged and we are so grateful they were brought back.

“I can’t help to think a year ago Antonio was kidnapped and God released him on Good Friday,” continued Badon, referencing the safe return of Children’s Village Director Antonio Auguste in March 2023 after he was kidnapped by gang members in Port-Au-Prince three weeks earlier. “My prayer was on Good Friday they would be home and spend Good Friday at the church in Cap Haitien. And this Friday, they will get to do just that.”

Since Feb. 29, gangs in Haiti 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, the Associated Press reported.

Additionally, more than 33,000 Haitians have left Port-au-Prince. And, more than 340 U.S. citizens have been evacuated out of the country since March 17.

Children’s Village

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 over 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.


Badon said that while the violence continues, Louisiana Reach Haiti continues to share the love of Christ with the children. He asked for continued prayers as they press forward.

“Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for our children and staff,” Badon said. “Most of all, we thank our Lord and Savior for His grace, mercy and refuge in a time of need. Those ladies and many in Haiti have been in a desperate time of need. We are looking to hear from the Lord on how to continue making a difference in Haiiti in the lives of our children and staff. And we are eager for other ways to serve.

“Despite all the hardships in Haiti, we know God has a purpose for us,” he continued. “We still are working to be in His will and serve the people of Haiti who face one adversity after another.”

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