Alabama Baptist volunteers needed in Haiticomment (0)
September 2, 2010
By Carrie Brown McWhorter
Following the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Alabama Baptist disaster relief teams, in coordination with Southern Baptist Convention efforts, began to respond to the Haitian people’s needs. In May, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) adopted the city of Jacmel, located on Haiti’s southern coast about 25 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, for long-term ministry efforts in the Caribbean country.
Mel Johnson, SBOM disaster relief strategist, called the opportunity for Alabama Baptists to help Haiti “an evangelistic opportunity of a unique form.”
Though Jacmel’s population was around 25,000 prior to the earthquake, many people who fled Port-au-Prince in the quake’s wake found shelter in Jacmel, almost doubling its population and creating a ministry opportunity.
Johnson said the threefold purpose of the effort in Jacmel is to evangelize, disciple believers and plant churches. This will be accomplished by missions teams from Alabama Baptist churches who will help with everything from construction to water purification to medical assistance. Eighteen teams have been to Haiti thus far, and Johnson said other teams are being assembled and making preparations to go to Haiti in the coming months.
Volunteers are needed to help build emergency shelter for refugees in tent cities and churches, work with children orphaned by the earthquake and meet the Haitian people’s most basic physical and spiritual needs. Johnson said the office of global missions will assist volunteers by tailoring a trip to meet their abilities, as well as by arranging travel and all their needs while in the country. While volunteers are responsible for the cost of transportation to and from Haiti and food and lodging while in the country (estimated to be about $70 per day), the SBOM provides transportation and security while in Haiti, as well as translation services, emergency travel insurance and other miscellaneous expenses.
“Someone will handle every detail down to the water so that volunteers can do what is needed to share the gospel message with the people of Jacmel,” Johnson said.
Rick Lance, SBOM executive director, will join Johnson and others from the SBOM on a trip to Haiti in September to visit new church starts and gather information for future projects. He encourages Alabama Baptists to continue to pray for the Haitian people and specifically the needs of those in Jacmel and surrounding areas, especially the spiritual needs.
“We all know that the good news of Jesus Christ is the best help we can offer the people who need to know Christ. In a place where disaster has reigned, hope in Christ can be presented. People in Haiti are responding to the gospel. May we be faithful in praying, going and giving so that they can know the Way, the Truth and the Life,” Lance said.
For more information, visit www.alsbom.org/haiti or call Johnson at 1-800-264-1225, Ext. 273.