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Lives lost, church buildings leveled in Haiti

After a massive earthquake struck Haiti, church members around the globe struggled to make contact with family and friends and scrambled to send relief to the impoverished nation.
The quake, the worst recorded on the island of Hispaniola since 1946, claimed tens of thousands of lives and destroyed most of the capital, Port-au-Prince, according to news reports.
Church-supported ministries are collecting funds to assist in relief efforts.

The 7.0-magnitude quake struck just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, a city of about 2 million people in southern Haiti. The crescent-shaped nation, southeast of Cuba, shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic and is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Though communication is difficult, church members have received some reports from Haiti:
• At least nine members of the Delmas 43 Church of Christ in Port-au-Prince died in the quake, minister Jean Robert St. Hillare said in a Wednesday morning e-mail message.
“We’re still looking for dead bodies,” St. Hillare said. “We have almost 50 members who need medical care, almost 290 homeless. That’s sad. There is not even bread to eat right now.”
The quake forced St. Hillare and his family from their home and brought down power lines, so the minister sent e-mail using a laptop computer powered by his car’s battery.
The top two floors of theDelmas Christian Secondary School, which also serves as the meetingplace of the Delmas church, crumbled and fell into the road,said Jeantyrard Elmera, the school’s director. A nursing class was insession in the building when the quake hit. Reports of injuries wereunavailable.
Nicky, a 15-year-old boy at a church-supported children’s home near Port-au-Prince, died when a wall collapsed. The boy lived with other children at Son Light Children’s Home and Nutrition Center, overseen by Roberta Edwards. The Estes Church of Christ in Henderson, Tenn., supports the work.  
Thomas Edwards, the oldest of the children living at the home, sent a brief e-mail message to U.S. supporters Wednesday morning.
“We slept outside last night,” Thomas Edwards wrote, “and the earth was shaking almost all night every 40 minutes.”
Debbie Vanderbeek and other church members are attempting to reach the worst-hit areas of Port-au-Prince to deliver supplies. Vanderbeek is Haiti program director for Hope for Haiti’s Children, a church-supported ministry based in Sugar Land, Texas. The ministry sponsors children in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.
The ministry planned to send a medical mission team to Haiti this weekend to conduct a clinic for children supported by the ministry.
“We have canceled this clinic and are waiting until we have a clearer picture of the needs and how best to proceed,” according to a statement on the ministry’s Web site. “The devastation is overwhelming.”
A mission team of 18 from the Estes church left Port-au-Prince on Monday, less than 24 hours before the quake hit. Minister Jesse Robertson described the poverty he saw in Haiti to The Jackson (Tenn.) Sun .
“Driving around, I thought if they ever had an earthquake, we’re in trouble,” Robertson said. “They hadn’t had one like this in 200 years. I saw along the side of a mountain shanty houses one on top of the other. They would collapse, and it looks like that’s what happened.”
Oneal Tankersley, missionary in residence at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., was traveling between the cities of Gonaives to Port-au-Prince with his son, Karl, and Harding student John Cannady when the quake hit. The group was in Gonaives filming teaching videos.
They were unharmed by the quake, but their return flight to the U.S. was canceled, said Dr. David Smith, a church member who directs the Haitian Christian Development Project. The group traveled to the neighboring Dominican Republic and is scheduled to fly home Thursday, Jan. 14.
“Gonaives, our development work and the communities with which we work … were apparently spared,” Smith said.
Gueston Pacius, a church member in Gonaives and development director for the Haitian Christian Development Project, plans to take relief supplies to Port-au-Prince.
Church members in northern Haiti experienced “tons of shaking and aftershocks” but no significant damage, said Bob Valerius, who works with the Cap Haitien Children’s Home.
Despite the lack of damage in the north, people across Haiti will soon feel the impact of the quake as food and fuel become scarce, said David Heath, a member of the Littleton, Colo., Church of Christ. Heath and Ben Adkins of Louisiana-based White’s Ferry Road Relief plan to leave Friday to assess needs and purchase gas and food to distribute to those in need.
The church members already planned a relief trip to Haiti next week, and now are stepping up their plans, Heath said.
Haitian-born minister Saint-Jean Jean-Pierre spent much of Tuesday night on the phone, fielding calls and text messages of concern from the members of his congregation in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Jean-Pierre, who moved to the U.S. from Haiti about 13 years ago, preaches for a Church of Christ with about 75 members — all from Haiti. Many work in restaurants or service industries in southern Florida. The church conducts services in French-Creole.
“I’ve been receiving a bunch of calls,” the minister said. “They want to know what happened to the houses (in Haiti). There’s a lot of crying.”
Church members had a conference call Tuesday night to pray for the people of their homeland and plan additional prayer meetings as they wait for news.
The quake shook church buildings in Kingston, Jamaica, said Gladwyn Kiddoe, minister and director of the Jamaica School of Preaching and Biblical Studies. No damage was reported. Jamaican church members plan to meet Thursday, Jan. 14 at the Mona Church of Christ in St. Andrew, Jamaica, to discuss relief strategies, Kiddoe said.
Meanwhile, emotional shockwaves from the quake have reached Christians as far away as Africa.
“Two families from our church and school are still trying to reach relatives there,” said Holly Hixson, a missionary in Kigali, Rwanda. “They have asked us to pray.”
Jean Balcom, a member of the West Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, Tenn., has traveled to Haiti multiple times to assist Roberta Edwards in her work near Port-au-Prince. Watching news reports from her home, she’s seen markets and buildings she’s visited — now reduced to rubble.
Even before the quake, “it’s hard to put into words the devastation you already see over there,” Balcom said, “so to see more … it’s overwhelming.”

  • Feedback
    TO: Bonnye Moody,
    We have received a brief e-mail from Arnold Garcon that he and his family are ok in Haiti.
    Leta Meek
    Jackson’s Temple Church of Christ
    Burns, TN
    January, 26 2010

    Bethel congregation is looking for Arnold Garcon. We have been helping him and are anxious to know if he and his family are o.k. also the members of the church there? He is supported by the North Haiti Church of Christ (Cap Haitian) in Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Bonnye Moody
    Bethel C of C
    Franklin, Kentucky
    January, 22 2010

    We are a small family of Christians in New England who appreciate The Christian Chronicle, keeping us aware of the work of the church around the globe. Your immediate Haiti reporting allowed us to distribute a list of church supported groups last Sunday and gave us focus for our prayers for these mission works.
    Bruce Pierce
    Seabrook Church of Christ
    Seabrook, NH
    January, 20 2010

    Our Hearts go out to everyone who suffered lost in Haiti. We will have a specail collection to assist HEALING HANDS INTERNATIONL In restoring the water system in and providing medical aid. Lawrence Clemons
    Normandie Church of Christ, Los Angeles, Ca
    Lawrence Clemons
    Normandie Church of Christ
    Inglewood, Ca
    January, 19 2010

    You outdid yourselves in getting out the info on Haiti with such immediacy and accuracy. As a result many were able to start sending funds to the various relief efforts quickly. Thanks so much and may the Lord bless.
    Robert Richason
    Agua Fria
    Dewey, AZ
    January, 17 2010

    I know this sounds trite as I sit here in the comfort of my house but I want you to know there are many prayers going to God for all of the people there and especially for our Christian brothers and sisters. I am waiting to find out what I can do to help.
    Much love and prayers in HIM who loves us all,
    Gladys Laas
    Bellville Church of Christ
    Bellville, Texas
    January, 16 2010

    We, the Christians here, pray about the nation of Haiti and especially for Christians there. May God be with you and help you in tis horrible situation of this nature disaster. Thanks to all who are able to help them.
    Nadya Pahomova
    Church of Christ
    Sosnogorsk, Komi
    January, 16 2010

    I pray that we all continue to pray for all those affected by the earthquate and the chaos thereafter. My husband, Joseph Hodgson, and I would be willing to take on two or more children from Haiti that are without a family. How do we get information on this effort to do it legally.
    Cenobia Abachiche
    Grant Street Church of Christ
    Lebanon, Oregon
    January, 15 2010

    I am part of a non-profit that has served in Haiti for many years. Our non-profit, Haiti Christian Development Project (HCDP), is a volunteer organization so there is no overhead needed to run the organization. The board of HCDP is composed of members of the Pleasant Valley chruch of Christ. We make a early trip in March to serve the people of Haiti in addition to other activities. Could we be listed with the Christian Chronicles as one or the helping orgranization? You ca see all the efforts HCDP is involved in on our website at http://www.hcdp.net. Thanks, Dean
    Dean Wright
    Pleasant Valley COC
    Little Rock, AR
    January, 15 2010

    The Estes church in Henderson, TN is near to my heart. It was my mother’s church home before her death in 2008. My brother is an elder there and I have long known of their work in Haiti. God bless your efforts there.
    Dorothy J. (Walker) Rice
    South MacArthur Church of Christ
    Irving, TX
    January, 15 2010

    The church in the Dominican Republic is taking a collection for this cause. Please pray for a compassionate response from the Dominican congregations.
    More information here:
    (sorry – spanish only)
    Matt Prewett
    Westside Church of Christ
    Cedar Park, TX
    January, 15 2010

    To our brethren in Haiti,
    Our prayers are with you in your time of trauma and bereavement.”do not be afraid, for I have reclaimed you.I have called you by name; you are mine”.(Isa.43.1-5)
    We in Eastridge,Cape town, South Africa would like to help.How best can we do that?
    Thanks and God be with you,
    Mervyn Pasqualle
    Mervyn Pasqualle
    Eastridge Church of Christ
    Cape Town, South Africa
    South Africa
    January, 15 2010

    Glad to find your report o the Haiti catastrophe. I was especially happy to know tht the mission team from Estes was safe. We have many friends and family who are members of that church.
    Don Cooper
    Brookwood Way Church of Christ
    Mansfield, Ohio
    January, 15 2010

    Thank you Erik for such awesome, accurate, and responsible reporting of this horrible event. Its part of what helps.
    Earle West
    Marlboro, NJ
    January, 14 2010

    Was so very thankful to find this site and the info, thank you so much. Knowing that God is in control, it still feels so good to see His love in action, the different ways He uses so many. Our prayers are with the Haitian people and the volunteers going in to help, and so many prayers, it is truly overwhelming to even think of it all, let alone walking into the midst of it,so very very thankful for His love.
    Martha Ross Meadors
    Dewey church of Christ
    Bartlesville, Oklahoma
    January, 14 2010

    Does anyone know if the damage has reached up to the orphanage in Cap Hatian?
    A reminder was sent to us to make sure that any monetary donations be KEPT in the US due to corruption in the government and theft of cash meant for our work in Haiti.
    We all pray for our brethren, and all people, affected by this natural disaster.
    Thank you to all who are part of this work.
    Paul Johnson
    Lander, WY
    Lander, WY
    January, 13 2010

    The church in Ft. Lauderdale sponsors Joe Worndle who is training 60 young preachers from all over Haiti. Money can be sent to West Broward Church of Christ, 12550 West Broward Blvd. Plantation, FL 33325 earmark it for Haiti Disaster Relief. It will be given to preachers in the capital area and dispersed to the congregations. Joe says money is all they can handle for now. For more info call church office 954 475-7172
    Gary Nix
    West Broward Church of Christ
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    January, 13 2010

    Thanks for getting this to us so quickly.
    Erma Loveland
    Hillcrest Church of Christ
    Abilene, Texas
    January, 13 2010

    May God be with us all – our congregation is praying and attempting to help in the disaster relief effort. Be with those who survived and those who lost loved ones. God is Great and Merciful!
    Ralph Bowden
    Mountain View COC
    Colorado Springs, CO
    January, 13 2010

    You can also give through Manna Global Ministries. Their team of three missionaries will be on the ground in Haiti in the morning to assess needs and ways to help. Their website is mgm.mannadr.org.
    Leland Sawyer
    Belton Church of Christ
    Belton, TX
    January, 13 2010

    The church in Henderson TN will be collecting money to get food, building supplies and medical supplies. Anyone can send money directly to:
    Estes Church of Christ
    Attn: Richard Taylor
    464 Crook Avenue
    Henderson TN 38340
    David May
    Inver Grove Heights, MN
    January, 13 2010

    In communication with Jean Robert St. Hilaire today, he says one of the elders of the Delmas 43 church, Carlo Mardy’s daughter(25) was killed in the quake. Jean Robert is overseen by the NE C/C in Kingsport, TN. Funds can also be sent there. Contact is Sam Ross, elder.
    Rod Myers
    Central Church of Christ
    Sarasota, FL
    January, 13 2010

    From Bobby Moore: Looking for a place to help those in Haiti? You can give to Bread for a Hungry World and 100 percent of your donation gets on the ground to the hurting in Haiti. Visit our website to donate online. Put Haiti in the how did you hear about us line. http://www.givebread.org
    Erik Tryggestad
    The Christian Chronicle
    Edmond, OK
    January, 13 2010

    Also collecting funds for the relief effort is the overseeing church for Roberta Edwards:
    Estes Church of Christ
    P.O. Box 191
    Henderson, TN 38340
    Attention: Haitan Relief Work
    Mark Hooper
    Highland Oaks CoC, Dallas
    Ft. Worth, Texas
    January, 13 2010

    churches of Christ Disaster Response Team is also assesing the need and collecting donations. We have worked with them and they are very effective. Their web site is www.churchesof christdrt.org
    George Dennis Graham
    Memorial Road Church of Christ
    Edmond, OK
    January, 13 2010

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