Annual conferences of the Haitian FMC will be convened at various times through the months of October, November and December. Pray conference participants will have discernment and business, and conference elections will run smoothly. Pray for both Rick Ireland and Bishop David Roller who will be attending.
Praise God for the inaugural meeting of the Haiti Provisional General Conference held March 27 to 29. Bishop David Roller reports the meetings were filled with celebration and a sense of progress. Rev. Clovis Momplaisier was elected suffragan bishop. The Haiti church continues to grow. Attendance has increased in the last year from about 6,000 to more than 18,000. Pray for God’s continued hand of guidance and blessing on the FMC in Haiti.
From Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver
The Free Methodist Church has responded in incredible ways to the crisis of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. From the beginning, God has clearly been at work confirming an action plan that not only provided immediate relief, but is producing long-range impact through rebuilding projects and healthy long-term sustainability.
Two key leadership gatherings in Haiti:
Bishop Roller visited Haiti immediately after the earthquake. A few days later, was on site. The unanimous decision was to submit to the leadership of the Haitian superintendents with the following results:
- They formed a Response Steering Committee: six Haitian superintendents and Pastor Rick Ireland as administrator.
- They determined three priorities for relief and reconstruction – which they have maintained in spite of criticism and pressure to broaden their response:
- Rebuild schools so that the children – including those sponsored through ICCM – can continue their education, and their lives can begin to normalize.
- Rebuild pastor’s houses that were destroyed by the earthquake so they can minister to others.
- Rebuild damaged church buildings.
A month after the earthquake Bishop Roller, Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver, and Dr. Linda Adams, Director of International Child Care Ministries, returned to Haiti for a consultation with Haitian leadership that had been planned before the earthquake.
We observed the following results:
- Free Methodist leadership in Haiti has worked with wisdom to help FMWM avoid an approach that creates unhealthy dependency. Rather than only reacting to immediate relief needs, the leadership is working towards implementing long-term sustainable systems that truly set up the people to continue caring for themselves.
- The level of spiritual maturity and leadership among the Haitian Superintendents was impressive.
- The way the Response Steering Committee is using the relief money is an example of stewardship and of excellent principles of missions for the 21st century.
- There is an encouraging partnership with other mission organizations and aid agencies leveraging Free Methodist resources to go farther and accomplish more.
It is clear to see that forty years of missionary work are bearing fruit.
In the first video immediately after the earthquake, Bishop Roller asked the worldwide church for money and simultaneously made a commitment to walk long term alongside the Haitian Church to help rebuild Haiti. This commitment implies more than just relief, which only lasts short term. Our commitment seeks even farther-reaching results as we continue working on the long-term plan fleshed out by our Haitian leaders: better schools, better homes, better church buildings. This plan that we are privileged to support will empower the Haitian people to rebuild Haiti and walk more boldly into the future God has for them as a people.
Yvonne and I spent last week in Haiti. Three nights we spent in tents in the rain worrying about the 1.5 million homeless, and for 3 days we were at a hotel with Haitian church leaders.
Relief and recovery is hard word and tears people apart. Partly because everyone is fatigued to the bone, one of the tasks is to keep the team together. Because the task is so huge hard decisions have to be made and no one can make everyone happy.
We’re working under Haitian superintendents team. Their decisions set our priorities. I think they’re doing an exceptional job.
We were able to spent a few moments alone at the graveside of Erlin, Jeanne, Merle & Gene. The bodies of the latter three were recovered by the U.S. military, positive identification was made through dental records and they were laid to rest on church property.
We now have a preliminary count of Free Methodists who died, in the western district, of about 100. Probably fewer died in the southern district, but still no count from them.
So here I am in Haiti…writing about the situation in Chile!
We have many churches in the affected area. This part of Chile is the birthplace of the FMC in Haiti. Early this morning 3 separate relief parties (1 truck each) set out from Santiago, each one with a specific destination city. They are carrying food, clothes, and supplies.
The Bishops Famine and Relief fund yesterday sent funds and then again this morning we’re sending more money.
I will be traveling to Chile on Monday, the 8th for a quick evaluation visit, along with bishop Jose Ildo from Brazil.
As many know, we lived in Chile for 10 years and so have many personal ties there. We are very eager to help in every way possible.
“Please keep the people informed. We have pastors and lots of other people living in tents or worse because their homes have been destroyed. Some people are completely out of touch with family members. Others, as you know, have passed away. Lots of people are without water and any kind of food. Supt. Sergio said he saw many are without clothing. What little people do have, others are stealing.Parts of Chile got hit with a 1-2 punch; earthquake and then tsunami. The few minutes that we had enough electricity to watch news last night, we heard that there is so much lawlessness now that some people say it is worse than the earthquake itself. We saw men guarding their homes with guns – in other videos neighbors were forming “armies” using rakes and hoes, brooms, whatever they had to try and protect their areas from the lawless. There is story after story to be told. It may be far away but it is very real. Please help the people see that and encourage them to keep praying!”
Thank you for all you’re doing for our Chilean church.
The latest information about what the Free Methodist Church is doing in response to the Chilean Earthquake can be found at HelpChileHeal.org
Dr. Delia Nuesch-Olver oversees all our FMWM missionaries and work in Latin American including Haiti. She and Bishop David Roller co-chair the Haiti Response Team which is led by Pastor John Marc Zamor of Haiti with missionary Rick Ireland as administrator. Larry and Alice Judy, members of FOHO (Friends of Haiti) provide logistical support and Dr. Dan Snyder oversees FM work at Dessalines Hospital.
The team of seven in Haiti who are overseeing relief, recovery and development efforts include: John Marc Zamor; Rick Ireland; Haitian superintendents Clovis, Desvariste and Clodius; Haiti ICCM Field Coordinator Mondale Perkins Oscar and Pastor George Valcourt.
From Bishop David Roller 6 Feb 2010
We left Port-au-Prince seven hours ago. Now once again finishing up the cross-island trip from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.
Seven hours to think about what we saw, smelled; seven hours for our tears.
Without thinking we rub sanitizer well into our hands. We wonder at the strangeness of Haiti, 3 weeks post-quake. Strange because the streets look like they always have except the growing piles of tangled re-bar and rubble along the curbs.
Strange because the ladies are back selling tangerines and radio antennas along the road. The man with 20 hats on his head stand ready to sell at the intersection. But 20 feet behind them the 3rd floor of an apartment building is sitting at eye level, the lower two-stories reduced to 2 ribbons of what were balconies.
We drove up the street for subways and strangely they have them. Stranger still because around the corner everyone scurries past the flattened supermarket covering their noses with shirt tails.
Strange as we sat for 4 hours with pastors trying to imagine the future: houses that wouldn’t crush children who even now need to play, their laughter making the surreal normal.
We argued and laughed, cried and convinced each other. We have to rebuild houses, schools and churches, but it would be foolish to rebuild now. We must create jobs, we must serve those beyond the family of faith, we must follow Haitian leadership; we must and we will.
The meeting ended and the pastors left to sleep on concrete, again.
Everything is a Dali painting-normal splashed on strange.
I stared at one of the tent cities, a kaleidoscope of sheets, tarps and random fabric tied together. Without latrines or water, thousands of people living from meal to meal. A fluttering in the sky caught my eye. A crude kite struggled for air. It purchased some altitude, slipped, then caught its breath.
Above the crazy randomness of hopelessness the kite drifted on the Caribbean breeze. I traced the string down to two boys, barefoot and filthy, eyes trained upward. The string danced through their fingers, tied off on an plastic coke bottle so it couldn’t escape them.
Life lived by survivors. Futures planned by the fortunate. Kites every one.
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We arrived in Port-au-Prince around two p.m. Thursday after the 8½ hour drive from Santo Domingo. We visited the FOHO (Friends of Haiti Organization) building ruins and prayed near the “cave of life” site in which the Lord protected Jack Munos and Katie Zook until they could be rescued. We prayed with thanksgiving for their rescue and in grief for the families of Jeanne, Merle, Gene and Erlin. Next we visited the family next door whose home was destroyed by the FOHO collapse and from which two bodies are also yet to be retrieved. We shared our sorrow for them and prayed together.
On Friday we traveled through Port-au-Prince and were amazed at how commerce has returned to the streets. These are a very resilient people. As we drove to the city center, we grieved anew. The main government buildings are in shambles. The historic palace has collapsed; the judicial building is rubble.
We had two important meetings. One was with the Haiti superintendent’s team, missionary Rick Ireland and Haitian pastor Jean Marc Zamor. We confirmed the major outline of our response efforts and a structure for making decisions going forward under their leadership. The Spirit of God provided a wonderful atmosphere as we grieved, expressed mutual support and prayed together. Each of the bishops – Bishop Cecilio (Dominican Republic), Bishop Roller (U.S.) and Bishop Elford (Canada) – expressed sorrow for the tragedy, solidarity with the Haitian people and a commitment to stand with them as we go forward.
Next we met with the western district pastors – their churches took the brunt of the devastation. We wept, prayed and shared together. Bishop Roller and Jean Marc explained to them the response plan, and we dialogued together. Each of them has lost their home. Most are living under temporary tarps where they can find a place. When I asked one pastor where he was living, he said in a neighbor’s yard. “Do you have a tent?” I asked. “No,” he responded, “just a cover.”
We visited the yard where between 12 and 15 families from our Delmas 53 church live in tents. It is a block from their destroyed church and a half block from a school where three of their member’s bodies are still under the rubble. The ladies’ church choir was practicing in one corner; tents covered nearly every square foot; school benches were along the wall; and dinner was being cooked. An amazing sense of calm and peace prevailed in spite of the very difficult circumstances. The church was living together and sharing both their need and their resources.
Lord, help us know how to be extravagantly generous as we stand with our church in Haiti!
Pray for team members currently ministering in Haiti:
- Tomorrow, Wed., Feb. 3, Canadian Bishop Keith Elford, Dominican Republic Bishop Cecilio Osoria, U.S. Bishop David Roller, Dr. Art Brown and Grant Sigsworth (Canada) will meet with leaders in Haiti to coordinate leadership and relief between the four countries.
- Rick Ireland, newly-approved missionary, is serving with Haitian pastor Jean Marc Zamor as the on-ground coordinator in Haiti. Larry and Alice Judy, Russ Cole and Jim Donnelson are providing support services. Sherry Cole will join the group next week.
- A team of 14 from the Spring Arbor FMC (Spring Arbor MI) is working on construction of a road and retaining wall at the FOHO (Friends of Haiti Organization) site.
- A medical team, led by Dr. Jerry Rusher, is based out of Dessalines Hospital. A second medical team from Yakima, WA, will leave for Haiti on Thurs., Feb. 4, to work at Terra Blanche with Pastor Dellamy. A third team of medical personnel is making plans to minister in Haiti over the course of the next month.
- Vahan Sipantzi, Curt King and Kevin Kate are drilling wells.
Praise God for this report from Dr. Delia Nuesch-Olver:
FM pastors are distributing food and water to their members. Jean Marc Zamor and Rick Ireland are encouraging the pastors to share a portion of that aid with non-FM neighbors.
From Bishop David Roller
The FMC has responded spectacularly to the Haiti earthquake. Team A has exited Haiti with a clear plan toward recovery; Team B is now in Haiti doing medical work; and the first Team C is scheduled to enter Haiti within a week. Team D’s initial flights were canceled, but new plans have been made to leave for Haiti on February 3.
Because the church is responding in such an strong way – with finances and teams, we have added two short-term employees in Indianapolis, one to help speed the funds to Haiti and another to help speed teams and volunteers to Haiti. The note on the FMWM Web site that stated 100% of donated funds will go directly to Haiti has been removed, so we can use some of the newer donations to fund these short-term employees. This seems right and reasonable, but we wanted to alert you to this development.
Haiti Relief, Recovery and Development Funds
Funds received for Haiti through the Bishops Famine and Relief Fund, Help Haiti Heal fund and Operation Hope will be used for relief, recovery and development purposes in Haiti. Costs to administer these funds will be held to a minimum. All expenditures will be approved through the FMWM Executive Director, Latin America Area Director and Haitian leadership, according to a budget developed in consultation with the Haitian church. These expenditures will be reported through the FMCNA Chief Financial Officer. Give Now!