February 2010

Haitian pastor opens church to victims

February 3 2010 by Tristan Taylor, Baptist Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — He couldn’t find the words to pray. He could only sing.

Haitian pastor Ronel Mesidor had left his Port-au-Prince office at Compassion International, a Christian child advocacy ministry, at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 12 to drive to his home in nearby Carrefour.

Before he was halfway there, the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck, claiming the lives of more than 150,000 people.

Dusk soon settled over the chaotic city. Shocked and grief-stricken people, crumbled buildings, crushed cars and dead bodies made streets impassable, so Mesidor continued home on foot.

Feeling his way through the darkness and devastation, Mesidor, pastor of Concord Baptist Church, sang every song that came to mind while walking during what he described as the longest night of his life.

“First, I tried to call my family on my cell phone,” Mesidor said in Creole through a translator. “It was difficult because communication was down. I also tried to call the church, but I couldn’t reach anyone.”

BP photo

Residents gather around a television set outside Concord Baptist Church near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Since the Jan. 12 earthquake, about 20 people sleep inside the church and an additional 40 live under a tarp in front of the facility.


It was the next morning before Mesidor arrived at his church in Carrefour, a Port-au-Prince suburb about 12 miles south of the capital. He heaved a sigh of relief when he found his wife Manise there, unhurt. He soon learned his five children were OK as well. Miraculously, the church and his house, located on the same block, were intact.

But the earthquake has taken its toll on the 250-member Concord congregation. Eight church members died as a result of the disaster, leaving four children orphans. In addition, 100 members suffered broken bones, 130 homes were destroyed and 45 damaged.

People who had lost their homes soon began arriving at the church — they had nowhere else to go. Manise, a nurse, turned the Mesidor home into a clinic to care for the injured. When space ran out, the pastor opened the church.

“I think God left us alive for a special reason,” Mesidor said. “Because these people need someone to take care of them.”

Carrefour is known as a dangerous place to live because of gang violence and other crime. Plus, nearly 4,000 inmates escaped from a nearby prison damaged in the earthquake. But Mesidor has noticed a change in the community since Jan. 12 — people are more subdued. Regardless, these are the people the pastor is dedicated to serving.

“I still believe we should show them the love of Christ,” he says. “Once they understand who God is, they will know how to love others. This is why the church is here.”

People continue flocking to the church in search of medical care, food and a word of encouragement. It has become a hub of grassroots relief activity. One of the pastor’s friends with medical experience is treating people in the makeshift clinic set up in the sanctuary. Manise helps prepare food for all the workers. And church members help clear rubble around the building.

Relief has started to arrive from other sources as well. Dominican Baptist and Southern Baptist assessment teams have visited the church and delivered supplies.

International Mission Board missionary Dawn Goodwin, who has worked with Mesidor, says the church is being used as a distribution center for supplies sent by Baptists in the Dominican Republic. It is one of several churches the Dominican Baptist Convention is assisting following the quake.

“He’s extremely organized,” Goodwin says of Mesidor. “On his own, he sent people out to seek information from all these other churches” in and beyond the epicenter — such as damage to churches, church members’ homes, injuries and deaths.

“He’s a young, up-and-coming leader in the convention (Baptist Convention of Haiti),” Goodwin continues. “He goes out of his way (to help), not just for his own church.... He’s very self-sacrificing.”

The Mesidors have 12 additional people living in their home now, including four children they’ve taken in. Three are orphans of deceased church members. And 20 people are sleeping inside the church, 40 on the church grounds and others in the Mesidors’ car or on their porch. But they all have a place to call home. Each night, Mesidor leads a small worship service.

“Every night we meet together and tell jokes,” Mesidor says, to find comfort and relieve stress. “And after that, we pray and sing together.”

Mesidor says he believes good can come from this tragic earthquake. More than anything, he prays that Haitians will find hope in God.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Taylor is a writer for the IMB in the Americas.)  

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2/3/2010 8:21:00 AM by Tristan Taylor, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Study: Big increase in U.S. families going hungry

February 3 2010 by Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press

DALLAS — Food-assistance agencies nationwide serve 1 million more people each week than they did four years ago, according to a national study released Feb. 2.

The nation’s network of food banks and related agencies provide emergency food to 37 million people — one American in eight — including 14 million children and about 3 million senior adults, the study revealed. That’s a 46 percent increase over the number reported four years ago.

The Hunger in America 2010 report, a comprehensive four-year study conducted by Mathematic Policy Research for the Feeding America network, provides the first empirical data demonstrating “an undeniable connection between the recent economic recession and hunger,” said Jan Pruitt, president of the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas. “Hunger across our nation is growing by leaps and bounds,” she said.

More than one household in three served by charitable agencies nationwide experiences “very low food security” — a 54 percent increase in the number of households classified that way compared to 2006.

About 5.7 million people receive emergency food aid each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen or other charitable agency served by one of the more than 200 food banks associated with the Feeding America network.

“Clearly, the economic recession, resulting in dramatically increasing unemployment nationwide, has driven unprecedented, sharp increases in the need for emergency food assistance and enrollment in federal nutrition programs,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, in a news release.

The report, she continued, “exposes the absolutely tragic reality of just how many people in our nation don’t have enough to eat. Millions (of) our clients are families with children finding themselves in need of food assistance for the very first time.”

Hunger in America 2010 reports a 68 percent increase over 2006 in the number of adults seeking food assistance who have been unemployed for less than one year. Nationally, the number of children served through the Feeding America network increased 50 percent over the same period.

The report revealed the hard choices Americans affected by recession and unemployment face. More than 46 percent of the households served the Feeding America network reported having to choose between paying for utilities or heating fuel and paying for food.

Nearly four out of 10 said they had to choose between paying rent or a mortgage and buying food, and more than one-third said they had to choose between transportation and food.

“It is morally reprehensible that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world where one in six people are struggling to make choices between food and other basic necessities,” Escarra said. “These are choices that no one should have to make, but particularly households with children. Insufficient nutrition has adverse effects on the physical, behavioral and mental health, and academic performance of children. It is critical that we ensure that no child goes to bed hungry in America as they truly are our engine of economic growth and future vitality.”

The study also dispelled some common myths about people seeking food assistance. It showed that in Texas, for instance, 84 percent of the clients of food-assistance programs are U.S. citizens, and 43 percent of the households had at least one working adult.

Data for the Hunger in America 2010 study was collected from February through June last year. It involved more than 62,000 face-to-face interviews with people seeking emergency food assistance from any of the 63,000 agencies served by a Feeding America network food bank.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Camp is managing editor of the Texas Baptist Standard.)  
2/3/2010 8:19:00 AM by Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Baptist Men plan long-term effort in Haiti

February 2 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Three weeks into an intense and immediate response to Haitians injured and left homeless and hungry by the Jan. 12 earthquake, it still feels like the second day of a domestic disaster to Gaylon Moss, who is coordinating the North Carolina Baptist response.

The difficult maze of coordinating communications, transportation, facilities, supplies and volunteers that normally begins to sort itself out a few days after a disaster still runs into bewildering dead ends in Haiti — a nation on life support even before the earthquake crumpled its capital.

Moss, disaster relief coordinator for North Carolina Baptist Men, said Haiti is fading from the public consciousness even as the extent of its rebuilding need starts to become clear.

“Next week, Haiti is history, it’s gone,” he said in an interview at his home during Raleigh’s own transportation crisis following a snowstorm Jan. 30.

While the public consciousness is only as long as the news cycle, Moss wants North Carolina Baptists to know they are in it for the long haul. He recognizes it is hard to maintain an edge of eagerness in volunteers who do not know when they will be loosed to serve.
But the only requests thus far and for the next month or so are for medical personnel to help in regional or make-shift hospitals. Early volunteers treated many broken bones, amputations and burns — often with no more anesthetic than an aspirin. And often, after treatment patients could only hobble across the road and lay down in the grass and dirt.

Because of response through the Baptist Medical Dental Fellowship, medical personnel from many states have traveled in the first five groups of medical volunteers from N.C. Baptist Men.

Scott and Janet Daughtry of Selma left Feb. 1 for Haiti to be onsite coordinators. They will assess needs and search for the key to the labyrinth of Haitian regulations and reality. They performed a similar task in Sri Lanka following the tsunami.

“Our vision is to help rebuilding in Haiti,” said Moss, who has led disaster relief for Baptist Men for 12 years. He asks North Carolina Baptists to keep following updates in the Biblical Recorder, www.biblicalrecorder.org and at www.ncmissions.org where volunteers should register their skills and availability.

Tremendous medical response
Moss said there has been “tremendous response from the medical community,” to volunteer in Haiti, a response beyond what is typical.

“North Carolina Baptists can be proud of that,” he said. “Those doctors have made a difference in those people’s lives in the hospital, no doubt, hands down.”

N.C. Baptist Men has a reputation as builders. There is no immediate blueprint for rebuilding houses for Haitians. If and when that time comes, N.C. Baptist Men will work with local officials to determine the plot of land on which to build but will have nothing to do with determining which residents get a house.

In an immediate response, N.C. Baptist Men is organizing a "bucket of hope" collection in which donors can buy a 5-gallon plastic bucket and fill it with the food staples like beans, noodles, oil, sugar, flour and rice. Mike Sowers is coordinating that task. Drop off at your area reception center (often your associational office) is Feb. 27.

The food buckets will be distributed in Haiti by responsible churches or established agencies.

In Haiti, N.C. Baptist Men has been working with Global Outreach Haiti. Global Outreach is a Mississippi based world relief organization working in Haiti since 1983. Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) has no career missionary presence in Haiti.

The IMB had a 30-year presence that ended last year. Missionaries who had been in Haiti moved into the Dominican Republic, to minister among Haitians leaking across the border to find a better life, but who were running into significant difficulties.

Global Outreach Haiti’s operation site in Tintayen is about 8 miles from the airport. The organization has been working in Haiti since 1983. One of the N.C. Baptist Men’s board members, Jack Hancox, was an IMB missionary to Haiti who suggested Global Outreach when Baptist Men’s Director Richard Brunson asked whom in Haiti he could trust to establish a working relationship with.

N.C. Baptist Men medical teams have worked out of the “burn clinic” in Tintayen. “Think in terms of a few rooms, not a hospital,” Moss said. All N.C. Baptist Men teams started there, and some migrated to Petionville Community Hospital 12 miles and 90 minutes away, and others to Little Brother Little Sister Children’s Hospital.

Team Five departs for Haiti Feb. 4 and will include a handyman and auto mechanic.

The community hospital has asked North Carolina Baptists to commit to six months of medical help. No commitment has been made yet.

As with any recovery effort, Moss said, “We stay until the money runs out, the people run out or the project is finished.”

Haiti will never be finished.

Moss said Haiti is a “top tier” disaster, with a “protracted time frame” for aid. “Within the next several weeks we should be able to solidify our plans for Haiti, which are constantly developing,” Moss said.

With so much need and so many international organizations flocking to help, Moss said N.C. Baptist Men will depend on “the Lord’s leading” to determine where best and most effectively to plug in.

“We will follow the open doors and opportunities God provides,” he said.


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2/2/2010 6:38:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Relief groups walk delicate line on gospel, aid

February 2 2010 by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service

When night falls in Port-au-Prince, thousands of homeless Haitians find shelter beneath weatherproof plastic sheets emblazoned with the logo of Samaritan’s Purse, a group that’s zealous to spread Christianity worldwide.

The 20-by-20-foot sheets offer a tangible way to demonstrate God’s love for people regardless of their beliefs, said Barry Hall, director of program support at Samaritan’s Purse, a North Carolina-based relief organization headed by evangelist Franklin Graham.

And while the logos don’t add warmth, they may still help local churches on the ground get credit for distributing the plastic sheets, along with similarly marked blankets and personal hygiene kits.

“It may have our name on it because we supplied it to them, but it’s the local church that these people see meeting their needs,” Hall said. “We try to leave that church in a better position” to evangelize.

As faith-based relief agencies work to help Haitians manage an epic crisis after the Jan. 12 earthquake, most are taking pains to give aid according to need, not creed, and disavow proselytizing.

World Vision, for example, a massive relief group based in Washington state with nearly 800 aid workers in Haiti, makes sure those who distribute aid aren’t simultaneously trying to win converts.

But even after decades of responding to emergencies, members of the Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations (AERDO) are still wrestling with out how best to proclaim the gospel, offer spiritual support and advance other organizational goals in disaster zones.

In short, they’re trying “to figure out what’s appropriate, especially in a disaster context, in terms of Christian witness,” said Randy Strash, strategy director for emergency response at World Vision, which belongs to AERDO. “In a disaster context, it’s especially important that you earn the right to be heard (because) all these emotions are raw and the future is so uncertain and you don’t want to be manipulating people’s emotions.”

Samaritan’s Purse photo

The barge loaded with equipment and supplies arrives in Haiti.


Some Christian outreach efforts in Haiti have already sparked controversy. Last week, Haitian officials detained members of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, for allegedly trying to leave the country with 33 children, some of whom may not be orphans. 

Meanwhile, some in Haiti’s large Voodoo community fear Christian relief groups are pursuing ulterior motives. Max Beauvoir, Haiti’s chief Voodoo priest, has already accused foreign Christian groups of “trying to buy souls,” and said Haitian Christians “grab” scarce resources and receive preferential treatment. On Jan. 31, he convened a national meeting of Voodooists “unhappy with the attitudes of the Christian community and their foreign guests ... to decide together the future of our country.”

Some experts on evangelism say Christian groups must be especially careful to give aid according to need and without strings attached.  

Elaine Heath, professor of evangelism at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, bemoaned a “lack of dignity” when ministries require aid recipients to sit through sermons or other religious appeals. American ministries seldom engage in such quid pro quo practices overseas, she noted, though they do sometimes happen in the U.S.

Heath said relief groups — religious, secular or governmental — see situations like Haiti not only as a chance to do good, but to look good, too. Positive PR isn’t inherently bad, she said, so long as meeting basic human needs remains the first priority.

“Anytime any group or government agency goes and brings help to people who’ve been hit by something, there is a philosophy behind it,” Heath said. “They all have their own agendas. Does that mean nobody should help people unless they suggest to others that they have a good agenda? No, I think that’s just nutty thinking.”

Relief ministries tend to follow strict protocols in disaster zones in order to ensure the vulnerable aren’t exploited. But protocols vary according to each group’s understanding of the risks at hand.

Last September, more than 20 religious institutions, from Scientologists to Buddhists to Catholics, agreed to a set of guidelines that urged relief groups to refrain from imposing moral values or engaging in inappropriate evangelism.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) concentrates primarily on distributing food, according to spokesman Tom Price. In Christian countries, CRS defers to priests or nuns to handle many of the spiritual crises that arise in disaster zones; he added that CRS, like other major relief groups, does not proselytize.

Medical Teams International, an Oregon-based evangelical group that’s active in more than 50 countries, provides physical aid in disaster zones. Workers sometimes tell patients that they’re grateful to God for being able to help, but they make no attempt to lead someone to faith, according to spokeswoman Marlene Minor.

Sometimes when patients are dying, “they have themselves come to a desire to make peace with God, and they ask you:  I want to be with Jesus. I want to be with God. How do I do that?’,” Minor said. “ ... They’ve already come to that, and they just ask you to pray with them.”

Samaritan’s Purse represents a different approach to witnessing. It relies on chaplains from its sister organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, to attend to victims’ spiritual or emotional trauma. No one who receives aid from Samaritan’s Purse is required to listen to a message or make any sort of faith profession, Hall said.

But those giving out aid nevertheless do their best to win converts when they can.

“When we get these folks together (for aid distribution), we’re going to do two things: we’re going to meet their physical need ... but we’re also going to take the opportunity to share the gospel,” Hall said. “What I have found is, no matter what that person’s background is, when I look them in the eye and say, ‘Can I pray for you?’ I’ve never had anybody say no.”

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2/2/2010 6:31:00 AM by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



IMB missionaries comfort injured Haitians

February 2 2010 by Alan James, Baptist Press

JIMANI, Dominican Republic — Delores York sits in the hallway of Good Samaritan Clinic just east of the Haiti border in the Dominican Republic. Her feet hurt. She’s exhausted. It’s been a long day for her and other clinic volunteers as earthquake victims fill every room, waiting for treatment.

Suddenly York, an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary from Abilene, Texas, who has ministered among Haitians for the past 12 years, is back on her feet. She’s in the lobby holding hands with Claire, a woman about to go into surgery to repair her broken hip. Claire lost her home, looters stole everything she had and she — like so many others — lost loved ones in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti more than a week ago.

But the two women can’t stop smiling.

“She’s my sister,” York says proudly. “She’s happy about Jesus saving her life.”

“I have hope in God,” responds Claire. “God will get me through this.”

York and Claire just met at the clinic, but they’ve become fast friends since York speaks Claire’s Creole language. As hundreds of injured Haitians pour into the clinic, York and other IMB missionaries helping there provide a valuable skill as interpreters.

“Hardly anyone here speaks Creole,” said Dawn Goodwin, an IMB missionary from Jefferson City, Tenn. “We’re able to help the doctors understand what exactly is wrong with the patient, so they can give the treatment the patient needs.”

Language barriers only complicate the situation in what looks like a war zone with patients scattered on mattresses throughout the clinic.

Patients include amputees, those with head wounds, infections and broken bones. They line the hallway as ambulances pull up to unload new patients.

The only available space for some is a patch of grass and dirt just outside the clinic. Rooms overflow with patients, exhausted doctors and other medical volunteers, some just trying to catch an hour or two of rest.

“It’s been a week since the earthquake — and they’re still coming,” said Goodwin.

Sleep isn’t something Goodwin, York or her husband, Sam, from Midwest City, Okla., have seen much of in the past few days. “I just did a 24-hour shift,” Goodwin said. “I haven’t been able to get much sleep, but there aren’t enough translators.”

IMB photo

IMB missionary Delores York interprets, consoles and prays with patients at a clinic in Jimani, Dominican Republic, near the Haiti border. In addition to being injured, most patients have lost their homes as well as their family and friends.


Interpreting is just part of what the IMB missionaries are doing. A day at the clinic can include everything from helping lift patients on and off beds to cleaning bathrooms.

The focus, however, remains the patients — most of whom have lost their homes as well as family and friends.

“Everything is gone,” said Junior, who was visiting his wife, a patient at the clinic. They lost their two children in the earthquake. “This is all we have,” he said as he pulled on his shirt.

“We have nowhere to go.”

After being released, many patients are transported to Bethel Baptist Church in Jimani, Dominican Republic, for temporary shelter. But their future remains uncertain.

For now, volunteers do what they can to comfort the hurting and wounded. Goodwin said the sweetest moments at the clinic for her are times of praying for patients or singing songs of comfort.

But in the chaos, even those moments aren’t always easy.

“I was praying with someone the other day and just started blubbering,” said Goodwin, who has worked among Haitians for 17 years. “I’m grieving, too.

IMB photo

The only available space for some Haitians at a clinic in Jimani, Dominican Republic, is a patch of grass and dirt. Doctors continue to rotate in, but the number of patients is overwhelming. Some have been waiting for days to receive treatment.


“I’ve lost friends. I have friends living on the street. Ministering to my people has been helpful. It’s helped my healing process.

“They have lost their identity, their palace … everything,” Goodwin added. “They come here because there is nowhere to go in Haiti. Some have been waiting here for days to receive treatment.”

Though doctors continue to rotate in, the number of patients is overwhelming. Workers at the clinic estimate they have treated more than 1,000 patients.

Another challenge is the equipment at the clinic. One evening, the X-ray machine was down, forcing doctors to cut open an arm or leg to feel for cracks or breaks in the bone.

While so many stories coming out of Haiti are sad, there also are miracles to report.

A woman and her 22-day-old baby were transported to the clinic after being rescued from the rubble of a building where they had been trapped for three days.

It’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed in the midst of crisis, York acknowledged. But she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“For us, the hardest part would be not being here,” she says.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — James is a writer for the International Mission Board.)


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2/2/2010 6:25:00 AM by Alan James, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Baptists detained in Haiti relief mission

February 1 2010 by Baptist Press

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Members of two Southern Baptist churches in Idaho are awaiting word on what a Haitian judge will decide Feb. 1 when he hears the case of 10 Americans accused of unlawfully trying to remove 33 children from Haiti.

Five of the 10 are members of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, and three are from Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, including Eastside's pastor, Paul Thompson. Two others are believed to be from other states.

"Both churches are very missions-minded and have sent members overseas many times," said Rob Lee, executive director of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention. "They went over to help. I really don't believe they had anything less than perfect motives."

Lee said while he had been informed by email that the churches were planning trips to Haiti, the trips were not coordinated through the Utah-Idaho convention.

Clint Henry, pastor of 500-member Central Valley Baptist, said he has been able to piece together some information from spotty communications with the team.

In an Associated Press report, Henry denied that his church members had anything to do with child trafficking and said he didn't believe those kinds of reports from Haiti.

"They were at the border Friday night and were told they needed one more piece of paperwork," Henry said.

"They returned to Port-Au-Prince to get that paperwork and that's when they were detained," he added to give emphasis that the group was not trying to flee with the children.

The Haitian government is struggling to keep a semblance of order in a nation brought to its knees in the aftermath of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.

Violence and looting still break out in some areas and even basic electricity and phone services have yet to be restored.

U.S. officials have estimated that up to 1 million children lost their parents in the earthquake.

Many have been surviving despite food shortages, safe shelter and needed medical treatment.

Hundreds of orphans have been airlifted to the United States for adoption, but Haitian government officials have slowed such adoptions amid rising fears that child traffickers may be taking advantage of the desperate situation to steal children.

Amid these heightened concerns, members of the Idaho mission team found themselves caught in a tense situation between Haitian and American officials.

In a statement to the press, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said, "We did not arrest Americans, we arrested kidnappers."

Some have pointed to the situation to illustrate why orphans should not leave Haiti at all right now.

"I am the parent of adopted children," Henry, the Idaho pastor, said, "So we are very concerned about the impact this might have on other Haitian adoptions that are currently underway."

Henry said Laura Silsby and another member of his church started New Life Children's Refuge before the earthquake as a way to help orphaned Haitian children.

According to an AP report, given the living conditions for the children and the breakdown in government control, Silsby said she didn't think about Haitian permission to take the children out of the country.

She said they only had the best intentions and paid no money for the children, whom she said were brought to a Haitian pastor by distant relatives.

Child trafficking "is exactly what we are trying to combat," Silsby told AP. "In this chaos the government is in right now, we were just trying to do the right thing."

Silsby is the founder of PersonalShopper.com, an online tool which has been featured in major newspapers and on television networks nationwide, and in 2006 she won an international businesswoman of the year award for her "visionary leadership, impressive accomplishments and strong commitment to helping others."

Silsby and her team had been working with a Haitian pastor named Jean Sanbil of Sharing Jesus Ministries, AP said.

The earthquake destroyed the orphanage facilities, and facing the chaos that followed the earthquake, the ministry team was trying to help Sanbil ensure the immediate safety and welfare of the children.

Sanbil had made arrangements for housing the children temporarily in the Dominican Republic, and the team was working to help him transport the children there.

"When the earthquake happened, their hearts were breaking for the Haitian children, just like everyone else," Henry said.

Silsby located a hotel in the Dominican Republic and made arrangements for it to serve as a makeshift orphanage until a more permanent home could be built, Henry said, adding that the plan was for the mission team to work with one or more orphanages in Haiti that had been destroyed in the earthquake and bring those children to safety.

According to Henry, family members of those arrested have been working through the American Embassy in Haiti and an attorney is en route to Haiti in hopes of being able to represent the group at Monday's hearing.

"It is our prayer that our people will be released and that the orphans will soon have a place where they can be cared for," Henry said.

The Utah-Idaho convention, in a statement on its website, lauded Henry as "one of our finest pastors" and requested prayer.

"At this time we ask for your prayers for the mission team in Haiti, for their families waiting for news, for Central Valley Baptist Church family, and for Pastor Clint Henry. We also ask you to pray for the Haitian government and then most importantly for the children of Haiti as they struggle to survive the earthquake disaster," the Utah-Idaho convention said.

Mike Ebert, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, told Baptist Press that in a situation like the earthquake aftermath in Haiti, it's especially important for local churches and individuals to coordinate their plans and any mission trips through their state convention or through NAMB or the International Mission Board.

"Part of that is just because we are keeping informed about all the requirements and regulations in play and restrictions and travel issues and safety issues and things like that," Ebert said. "As part of our normal disaster relief work, NAMB is constantly in touch with local governments and many other disaster relief entities. So we have a lot of information about what is actually happening on the ground and how people can be the most effective."

Ebert said he doesn't have any doubt that the team from Idaho had the best intentions as they were moved with compassion for children in Haiti.

"The whole situation has served to illustrate the importance of working through the process that Southern Baptists have put into place over the years," he said.

"We're preparing to send another team now into Haiti that will establish a more permanent disaster operations center there and will hopefully serve to help the free flow of Southern Baptist aid to the churches and the people that need it the most," Ebert added.  

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2/1/2010 11:51:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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