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.