Yesterday, Mon., Jan. 16, was the opening of Haiti Providence University, a Christian university located near the capital, Port-au-Prince. The university offers liberal arts undergraduate degrees in education, business, theology and nursing. Construction on the first building began in December 2010, less than a year after the earthquake that left many Haitians homeless. Pray for university president/rector Jean Marc Zamor (a Free Methodist), the more than 50 university students enrolled, and instructors desiring to apply biblical principles to their lives.
Recent rain storms in the Port-au-Prince area have caused the deaths of 23 people. Homes and temporary shelters have collapsed, bridges were washed away, and many roads are impassable. Pray for those affected by this storm. FMWM has received no reports of FM injuries or damage.
Praise God for the 22 people who were recently baptized at the Greffin FMC on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Pray for many more to come to faith.
A team of 11, sponsored by the Centennial FMC, Belleview, ON, is currently ministering in Haiti until April 10. This team, made up of members from five congregations in eastern Ontario and led by Pastor Rodney Peterson and Les Young, are doing construction on a church in the Mapou area.
Gene and Kelli Page, Lapeer FMC, MI, are leading a team of 15, April 2 to 9, to Haiti. This team is involved in ministry through maintenance on the properties in Dessalines. Among other supplies, the group has carried in water filters for area families.
Richard Poissant, Canada, travels to Haiti April 5 to 15. He will be doing general construction.
International Child Care Ministries
Mark Johnson, Meadowood FMC, CO, has traveled to Haiti this week to assist the International Child Care Ministries office in setting up a functioning computer network in Port-au-Prince. He will also teach the staff in how to use the new database. Mark returns Tues., April 12.
4 a.m., January 12, 2011
I can’t sleep. I have gotten up, dressed, fired up the coffee pot and am sitting here at my computer, well … reflecting. Last night, even Haitians that have repaired and/or rebuilt their homes (there are many) slept outside. A rumor has been going around that a second earthquake will hit on this anniversary of the first one. For Haitians it has been a year of loss. They have lost family members, homes and jobs. It has been a year of putting their lives back together. Today, a holiday has been declared, and churches all over the country will have special services.
In a few hours, I will attend a special service at the site of the collapsed guest house. The spouses of all those who died a year ago will be there. Dale Woods from World Missions will lead a special service. We will remember, and there is a lot to remember.
One year ago, I was the pastor of the Nash Road Free Methodist Church just north of Buffalo, NY. I had begun to prepare for being a missionary to Haiti but didn’t expect to get there for another year. Shortly after the earthquake hit the news, my daughter Kate called. She was engaged to be married to Been Valcin, a Haitian who lived in Port-au-Prince. Somehow he had managed to get a brief phone call out so we knew he and his family had survived. We didn’t hear anything more for ten days. Two weeks later, I was on a plane to the Dominican Republic. From there I drove into Haiti with a small advance team. The stench of death was everywhere. I had been given the task of working alongside the Haitian national leaders in relief and recovery, and in putting the mission operation back together. And over the last year, that is what we have done.
In almost 30 locations, Free Methodist schools and churches were damaged or destroyed. Most people of Port-au-Prince (2.5 million people) were living in tents, at best. The most recent estimates are that a million people are still in tents. We have made substantial progress, but there is still a long way to go. A full recovery is years away. But as I look back, I see a lot has been done. In the early days, we had food distributions in all our earthquake-impacted churches. We had special programming for the children. We organized free medical clinics conducted by Haitian doctors and nurses. We provided for temporary housing for our pastors. One year later, our focus is rebuilding. In those locations where buildings could be repaired, they have been repaired. We have managed to get decent temporary structures in those locations that lost everything. We have provided training for pastors and builders to know how to build earthquake-resistant structures, and they have repaired and rebuilt using what they learned.
As I look at the state of the church here in Haiti, I am filled with hope. The last three Sundays I have been in three different churches. One was a permanent building that survived the quake, and two were temporary structures designed for 1,000 or more to attend. None of them were big enough to contain the people who showed up. God is moving across the face of Haiti, and it is a privilege to be here and watch.
January 12, 2011
I sit at the FOHO complex as I write. Just down the street, the largest Free Methodist church in Haiti began services at 6 a.m. The services will last all day. I can hear the people worship. They are not sad. They are not defeated. They do not mourn. Instead, I hear joyous singing. Shouts of “Hallelujah!” Church overflowing. The church being the church in times of great struggle and great opportunity.
Yes, as I have been in Haiti, I have seen the U.S. headlines on the internet. “Haiti Still in Crisis.” “Haiti Struggles to Rebuild.” Many sound bites, many authors. I can only report what I see in Haiti. I think my headline would be: “Progress and Accomplishment.” The nation has changed and progressed. It is amazing what has happened in the last year. Much, much progress. Personally, I cannot believe how much has been accomplished from one year ago. Yes, much still needs to be done – the task is huge.
Yes, people still live in tents. But, fewer people than a year ago. Rubble is being cleared; houses are being built; people are working; and students are going to school. The nation faces many challenges, but there is great hope.
I am proud of the church. I am proud of the Free Methodist Church and our partner organizations in Haiti. Sunday we worshiped at Puit Blain, a church that was overflowing, as many churches are today in Haiti. I was able to participate in an infant dedication. The pastor told me the stories of the mothers and fathers coming to Christ after the earthquake, and now, a year later bringing their children to be dedicated. Yes, many of our churches are in temporary structures like the one you see here. On Sunday we worshiped under tarps – all 1,500 of us! We worshiped in tarps; however, all of us could look out and see the new church being constructed – again, great hope for the future.
Perhaps you have heard stories of aid organizations not spending relief money. This is not true of the Free Methodist Church. According to missionary Rick Ireland, 95% of the relief money has been distributed. Medicine. Tents. Water. Wells. Schools. Churches. Houses. Thank you for making a difference in Haiti!
In a few minutes, all the families of those who died in the FOHO building will gather at the grave site. Haitians and Americans, united in hope and anticipation of what God will do tomorrow in Haiti. This will not be a service of grief, but of anticipation for what God will do in the future.
Thanks for praying. Thanks for giving. And, thank you for your willingness to continue support of an amazing movement of God in Haiti!
It’s been ten months since the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January. My memories of Haiti that stuck with me the scenes of devastation, hurting people and the smell of death. I have heard good things of what has happened here in the months since but it’s hard to mesh that reality with what I saw during that initial trip to port-au-prince to just see how the children from the international child care ministries schools and the free Methodist church got through this disaster. Today I landed in a much different city. If you know what your looking for it’s still apparent they had a major earthquake. Like the airport terminal is a undersized warehouse since the terminal has been damaged. There are empty lots where there used to be buildings and of course scores of tent cities to house the homeless. But it was in the eyes of the people at the santo ICCM school that I saw the real hope for Haiti. The shock has been replaced with determination to help see this little corner of Haiti heal.
Pray for the people of Haiti as they face the possible effects of Hurricane Tomas. Bishop David Roller reports Free Methodist churches and schools are preparing to open their doors for temporary shelter. Also pray the hurricane veers away from Haiti and neighboring islands.
Latest report from weather.com: Hurricane Tomas intensified a little bit overnight. As of 5 am EDT Thursday, Tropical Storm Tomas was located about 315 miles to the southwest of Port-au Prince, Haiti. Tomas is forecast to intensify into a hurricane Friday morning as it passes just west of Haiti. Hurricane conditions could linger into Friday night or Saturday morning. Rainfall could total 5 to 10 inches with some amounts up to 15 inches possible in the mountains.
“Last Sunday Jean Marc Zamor and I called back into action the health team, which we had put together in the early phases of the earthquake, to respond to the cholera epidemic. This is a Haitian team consisting of two doctors, several nurses, and some community organizers, about a dozen all told. The team has been spending this week in the Dessalines area. The medical people are helping the staff at the DRHP (Dessalines Rural Health Program). We have had 50,000 fliers printed up and the community mobilizer part of the team is traveling the region, working through the local churches to educate people how to protect themselves and how to respond with early symptoms of the disease. In addition to the fliers, we purchased medicine based on a list provided by Dr. Dan Snyder, as well as bleach and hand cleaner for distribution.”
Specific prayer requests from Rick and Cookie Ireland: “Please pray that this epidemic will be stopped, that there will be no more deaths, that needed personnel and supplies will reach those affected. Pray for continued strength for the Haitian people as they face yet another crisis.”
Update from Rick Ireland – Saturday, October 23
“I know the news is full of the cholera outbreak in the north part of Haiti. We have been expecting something like this long before now. I spoke with Dr. Dan (Snyder) yesterday who said that the key for us was to wash our hands a lot, be careful of what we eat and where it came from, and drink filtered water. These things have been standard operating procedure since I have been here. Do keep Haiti lifted up in prayer as many Haitian don’t have the resources that we do to protect ourselves.”
From CBC News
An outbreak of cholera is worsening in Haiti, and moving closer to the country’s earthquake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince. As of the most recent reports on Saturday evening, the disease has killed at least 208 people and sickened another 2,674. The outbreak began in the rural Artibonite region, which hosts more than one million quake refugees. Health officials fear what could happen if the disease spreads to Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of thousands of quake survivors live in tarp camps.
Cholera is a waterborne bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours.
Funeral services for Haitian Pastor David Charles, who was murdered Wednesday, May 26, will be held Saturday, June 5. As Pastor Charles was leaving a Port-au-Prince bank after cashing a check, two motorcycle robbers accosted him to steal his money (and perhaps kidnap him). While the robbery was taking place, a security guard stepped into view. The robbers panicked, shot the guard and Pastor Charles, killing them both, and then fled. Pastor Charles was the legal representative for the Haiti Annual Conference.
Missionary Rick Ireland Reflects May 29, 2010
Every Thursday at noon, a group of Free Methodist Haitian pastors gathers in the office of the General Superintendent for a time of worship and prayer. I happened be there as they gathered this week. The mood was somber. The day before, a prominent and beloved pastor had been robbed and killed as he left his bank after withdrawing some money to replace his car. The murdered pastor’s son was among those who slowly and quietly filed in. Each greeted the grieving son. Someone handed out hymnals and one of the pastors led out the singing, marking time with the snap of his fingers. The first song was slow and sad. A pastor prayed. The second song was a bit more upbeat. Another pastor prayed. And so the pattern continued. At one point, a pastor opened his Bible and began to preach. I couldn’t understand all the words but the name “Job” figured prominently. More singing and praying followed. And though I did not understand all the words (except the ones I was asked to share), I did watch in wonder as God filled that space, lifting people up in a difficult time. By the end of the meeting, even the grieving son was singing these songs of faith. As the impromptu service wound down, there was still sadness but there was also quiet resolution. These pastors did not face the future alone. They have one another, and they have a God who is bigger than their suffering, and who understands their suffering, sharing the journey.
Our faith doesn’t exempt us from suffering. What I could see first hand is that what faith does do is give us the resources to face the suffering that is part of life in a fallen world. We do not serve a God who is watching a show from a distance. We serve a God who took on the very flesh of man, experienced life in its joy and sorrow, in its victory and its suffering – a God who understands the pain of grieving over a much too early death. There is a strength in that and I saw it in the faces of the men as they left that day.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV) we read:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
I saw that lived out in the in the flesh this week. These pastors are no strangers to suffering. They have lived through floods, political upheaval, and now earthquakes. Everyone of them lost people close to them on January 12. They knew the pain of the grieving son, but they knew the Son who saw them though the suffering of the past would be there in this as well.
I knew the pastor who died. I will miss his quiet gentle spirit and his words of encouragement as I adapt to life in this very different place. I am strong in the reality that this time of separation is not permanent. We will meet again.
Free Methodist World Missions received the following report from Rick Ireland at approximately 6:00 p.m. today, Wed., May 26:
About two hours ago Haitian Pastor David Charles was murdered in Port-au-Prince. He was secretary of the Haiti Annual Conference. This death will have a big impact on the national leadership team. The circumstances, as we currently understand them, are that as Pastor Charles was leaving the bank after cashing a check, two motorcycle robbers accosted him to steal his money (and perhaps kidnap him). While the robbery was taking place, a security guard stepped into view. The robbers panicked, shot the guard and Pastor Charles, killing them both, and then fled.
More details will be released as they are available.