Saturday, February 13, 2010
Monday, February 08, 2010
Dear Pastor, Church, Friends and Family
I’m headed to Haiti once again this morning and wanted to give you a report and ask you to pray once more for our trip. The Baptist Bible Tribune asked us for an update this week and some of this information may coincide with information we submitted for the upcoming issue, but for those that like the long version – this is for you. Wink!
I have learned over the years that not everything we experience can be explained. Especially things like disasters, persecution, suffering, etc... There are no easy answers. I know God uses trials and tribulations many times so that we can grow. I believe also that He desires to teach us to wholly rely on Him, which always makes us stronger. It's tough, no matter how strong you are, to see people go through so much like what we are witnessing in Haiti. During these times I remind myself that God has a plan and even though we don't know all the details, He does and has everything under control. I’m thankful He has me busy reminding people of this and that no matter how impossible a situation might look, nothing is to hard for God. Jer 32:17 says, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” and Jer 32:27 says “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” There is NO WAY MAN can resolve this problem. In my opinion, we must rely on GOD. We must pray that He shows us the way and stay everyday in His will.
On this side of the border many hospitals in Haiti have been sending patients to hospitals here in the Dominican Republic. Gary, which many of you know from previous letters, has been visiting the hospitals, giving out food, printing tracts, preaching and helping Regina with the Bucketsfull of Hope project. When we returned, he fell ill and has been diagnosed now with Dengue. Please pray for Gary. He is a faithful worker and he really wanted to go with me to Haiti today. I prayed with him in the hospital and shared with him the details of my message Sunday morning, which I’m sure he will share with those around him – Smile – He’s quite the preacher.
Regina and the kids have been absolute warriors during all this and we have had some great family time this week. It has been decided that I will not miss Sunday’s unless we have a group going into Haiti. I will preach in Haiti during the week, when invited, and get back as soon as possible to preach at our church.
In Haiti, I see what we are doing now as: Relieving the suffering of independent Baptist Church leadership / membership (when possible) and ministering to the spiritual needs of each local church while rebuilding places of worship and full time worker's homes so future ministry can continue under pre-earthquake national leadership.
Preaching, counsel & prayer has occurred throughout my response. I've completed Initial Evaluations on 16 different churches in the affected area. When I left, there was still some body recovery left to do at Eglise Baptise de Don Burger and Eglise Du Tabernacle, which I will check on this week. I’m still prioritizing churches and members needs, applying for aid from the World Food Program, OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and several NGO's (Non Govermental Organizations), coordinating & organizing efforts from different church groups (our first team arrives March 23), meeting with leaders at the American Embassy, United Nations base, field hospital's and clinic's. I am logging GPS Coordinates & Elevation data and this week began contacting specific NGO's that could advise us on low cost permanent housing that can withstand future earthquakes and hurricanes.
Sadly and with a heavy heart, I can preliminarily report the following: Approximately half of the churches evaluated have been initially classified as destroyed and/or condemned, attendance is down approximately 50% in most of the churches and in several cases churches cannot have services. I have, in my first group of initial evaluations, 16 pastors/full time workers who have lost there homes and 3 pastor's homes/full time workers that need repair. Between 2,000 to 3,000 in these works need food and approximately 35% need shelter. In most cases everyone has lost their job and all report deaths and/or injuries to church members. One pastor lost approximately 50 of his 300 members and reported that he has had 26 funerals in the last few weeks.
As I travel in with teams from our church, we are being very careful and using a lot of discernment. The government of Haiti and the United Nations now reports that there could be as many as 2,000,000 IDP's (Internally Displaced Person's) and there is plenty of evidence that people are hungry. This combined with the problems of Aids, Outlaw Gangs, Poverty and Voodoo makes the current work in Haiti very challenging.
Financially, from the 20th of January through last week Regina and I have received $74,718.16 from 53 churches, missionaries & individual donors. No phone calls have been made, just e-mail / blog correspondence which are recorded on www.dr4christ.blogspot.com. 33 of these are our regular supporters & 4 BBF missionaries have also given. The first church to respond was Burleson Boulevard Baptist Church in Burleson, Texas / Pastor Terry Williams and our largest donor has been Heritage Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas / Pastor George Newcomb who has given $12,060. Both have supported us since we were in Cuba and we are humbled by each & every church, missionary & friend who has given.
$37,448.16 in Haitian Relief Project Sub Account in Missions Office
$19,800 is in Transit to our Dominican Association's Account
$17,470 has been spent, we are trying to save as much as possible for the long term
With that $17,470 we have done the following as of last week:
1. Over 200 "Bucketfulls of Hope" have been made & most are now in Haiti. The new contents can feed a family of 4 for over a week and includes a spiritual encouragement letter and a color tract in Creol.
2. Over $1000 of medical supplies have been distributed to the D.A.S.H clinic on Delmas #48, to Pastor Odvin's clinic & to many pastor's who have members with significant injuries
3. 70 bags of concrete were purchased to begin the process of reinforcing Pastor Leny's (Asian Baptist Clearing House) outer church wall for security purposes.
4. A small, used, enclosed truck was purchased for $1,700 to transport food, shelter, materials and water from the airport to the churches.
5. Over 20 bundles of water, an inverter, several new car batteries, solar & larger type flashlights have been given out.
6. 1 large 8 man tent has been donated for base camp operations and for the Deaf ministry students in Bro. Funtecha's church
7. A used Toyota van was purchased for $3500 to save money on transportation when taking groups and supplies into Haiti. Bus tickets, one way, for groups of 7, from Santo Domingo, cost over $1000
8. Paid Armed Guard from the Dominican Military to accompany 2500 lbs of relief supplies
9. Initial Gasoline & Diesel Deposit has been established
10. Offering's to Haitian Pastor's have been made in extreme cases.
Thank you for what you are doing. In times of natural disaster the needs seem overwhelming. We realized that many people are reluctant to give financially to the Haitian Relief efforts, because so many try to take advantage in times of tragedy. We understand this, desire to be transparent and do our best to do our part. We will continue to be available to help in what ever way we can. We give God the honor and glory for what He is doing. Knowing that you stand behind us in prayer is a big comfort. Thank you and we will continue to report what we are doing as timely as possible.