Members of Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, gather outside what’s left of their church building. Four leaders of the church, including the pastor, Bienne Lamerique, were killed during an earthquake that shook the country Jan. 12. Southern Baptist assessment teams are in Haiti trying to work out plans for relief efforts. (International Mission Board photo)
by Larry Thomas
KNCSB Director of Disaster Relief
I was encouraged today as I heard the voices of members of our Southern Baptist Disaster-Relief Assessment Team on location in Port au Prince, Haiti.
Their report indicates conditions have not changed much. However, more U.S. military presence seems to be helping the people of Haiti have hope for a better tomorrow.
The numerous tremors and aftershocks continue to cause fear. But Haitians who had come to Port au Prince after the major quake are beginning to return to villages they came from. The press of humanity is still overwhelming in Port au Prince causing travel from one point to another to be at a snail’s pace.
Our disaster relief assessment team is due to return to Miami over the weekend as transportation can be arranged. The team will meet in Miami with stateside Southern Baptist disaster relief leaders on Tuesday to describe the needs as they have seen them and begin to craft, prioritize, and coordinate a plan to mobilize the disaster relief resources.
I am convinced that once this plan is published, Southern Baptist disaster relief personnel and equipment will begin to flow toward Haiti. The condition of the port and airfield will regulate the flow of relief workers into and out of Haiti.
It has been my experience working disasters to observe that improvements in transportation and infrastructure begin to pick up speed with each passing day. This acceleration in repair and rebuild will allow a greater number of relief workers to safely enter and minister in Haiti.
At this time it is appropriate for us all to pray and ask God if He desires for us to physically go to Haiti and work as the heart and hands of His Son Jesus. If you believe you are to go to Haiti, please contact your association disaster relief coordinator and let them know. If you haven’t received the training needed to deploy into a disaster environment such as that in Haiti, we will help you get trained.
As previously stated, I do not encourage anyone to attempt to travel to Haiti on his or her own. Nor do I authorize any Kansas-Nebraska Disaster Relief volunteers to self deploy to Haiti. Kansas-Nebraska Disaster Relief will respond as a coordinated part of the overall Southern Baptist Disaster Relief response.
For those who believe that God would have them go to Haiti, please check out the directives regarding travel to Haiti at the U.S. State Department Web site, and then go to the Center for Disease Control Web site and read up on the needed immunizations and general health hazards to prepare for. Check with your physician and if you are deemed healthy enough, begin the process of immunization preparation. You should also apply for a U.S. Passport if you don’t have one. We will disseminate detailed information regarding Southern Baptist disaster relief deployment as soon as it is available.
Please continue to pray for the Haitian people, the relief leaders and workers doing as much as they can with what they have and for those relief efforts yet to arrive. When you think of donating money, remember that 100 percent of your donation through Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist Convention goes to disaster-relief efforts. There is no administrative overhead deducted from any donation to KNCSB disaster relief.
Donations should be sent to: Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, 5410 SW 7th St, Topeka, KS 66606-2398. Make all checks payable to KNCSB Disaster Relief. If you desire, you may annotate the bottom of the check “For Haitian Earthquake Relief”.
Updates will be posted on the KNCSB Web site. Please call me at (316) 204-7889, or your association disaster relief coordinator for assistance.