It was a beautiful day in Haiti, mid 80s, when our plane landed in Port-au-Prince. Pastor Prédestin Hérard’s smiling face was a welcome sight; he runs the orphanage our church supports. As we headed off into the city, I saw poor people, small businesses along the streets, women carrying large loads on their heads. Overall a pleasant though not necessarily happy place.
We were driving through a small neighborhood street when the earthquake hit, almost exactly one hour after we arrived. The van started jumping around as concrete blocks began hitting the ground, with people yelling and running, trees waving, and a lot of chaos. A young girl ran very frightened out of a house, wearing only a towel. She must have been in the shower.
I really didn’t know what I could do to help. I had little supplies and nowhere to take the injured. Mostly I just took it all in.
—James Kiffmeyer, Rice Lake Baptist Church, Rice Lake, Wis.
Hundreds of journalists tussled at the airline counter, trying to arrange travel before the Haitian infrastructure collapsed.
In a developing story that was all about “boots on the ground,” Baptists were already there, and had been for decades, well before the celebrities arrived with their cameras.
Independent Baptist missionaries had been quietly supporting relief agencies, sponsoring orphanages, and planting churches. For our fellowship of churches, the developing news story was not about “them”; it was about “us”—our family, our brothers and sisters, our pain.
GARBC churches had formally partnered with the Association des Énglises Evangeliques Baptistes d΄ Haiti, led by Pastor Prédestin Hérard. Many Haitian believers had joined GARBC churches after immigrating to the U.S. For them the news from home was shocking.
All our church members are affected by the earthquake one way or the other. Our members are still struggling to grasp the destruction in our country. All of us in the church have lost nieces and cousins. I have many friends who died where I used to live when I was in Haiti.
—Pastor Jacquelin Saint-Preux, Eglise Evangelique Baptiste, N.Y.
It’s very sad to see the situation of Haiti at this time. In each street you go you can see about 25 people died and the number increase every day because there not enough hospital to care for the people. No power, no phone, no food as well. We are in a terrible catastrophe. I thank you very much for your prayers. I was in the street when the earthquake occurred. But our God is powerful. He protected me, praise the Lord.
—Pastor Prédestin Hérard, shown at right with children from My Father’s House orphanage
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