Raleigh pastor clings to news, phone, hope
    January 21 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    Erilus St. Sauveur lost a sister and two nephews to the Haitian earthquake Jan. 12. His sorrow was mitigated only by the first phone call from his son in Haiti six days after the quake to say he was alive.

    St. Sauveur, pastor of First Haitian Tabernacle of Grace in Raleigh, is no stranger to pain, having lost three siblings during political violence in Haiti years ago. With seven children of their own, he and wife Mureille, are parents to six other relatives for whom they’ve taken responsibility.

    With the television in his sparsely furnished house in Garner tuned constantly to news, and his telephone ever at hand, St. Sauveur yearns for any news from his native island. He knows all surviving relatives are living on the street with hundreds of thousands of others. He also has learned how narrow the margin between life and death is.

    One of St. Sauveur’s grandsons was with his father in Haiti on Jan. 12 when they heard a strange noise. The father stepped outside the house to look at the sky, just before the ceiling collapsed on his son. The boy’s last words were, “Help me; save me.”

    St. Sauveur also lost a niece and her two children. The four churches and two schools he planted in Haiti are all destroyed, with 12 known casualties. The fate of many others is simply unknown.

    BR photo by Norman Jameson

    Erilus St. Sauveur (see video)


    He is anxious to get to Haiti to assess the situation, and pledges his availability to help any group going over.

    St. Sauveur, an entrepreneurial church planter who started 14 churches in the Chicago area and two more in Pennsylvania, moved to North Carolina just last year in search of warmer weather for better health.

    He formed an organization called Solid Rock. Prior to that he worked under the auspices of two other denominations and his church is now meeting in the facilities of Athens Drive Baptist Church in Raleigh.

    He was a district overseer for 42 congregations in Haiti when he left for America in 1985 as a missionary to reach Haitians for God.

    His vision is to start Haitian churches everywhere. “We plan to go and get them for the Lord,” he said, noting also Haitian populations in Charlotte, High Point and Greensboro. “You have to go out there and cry in the wilderness like John the Baptist and people will come to you,” he said.

    He called Raleigh a “tough place” to start a Haitian church and said if a preacher does not “have God’s spirit after a while you will say au revoir and will leave.”

    St. Sauveur, 58, grew up with an aunt in Port-au-Prince from age five after she took him in following destruction of his hometown of Anse-a-veau by a hurricane. She was a member of First Baptist Church of Port-au-Prince.

    St. Sauveur offers some insight as to why Haiti is so poor. He said Haitians picked up from the French colonialists that only certain professions had honor. Craftsmen or tradesmen had no prestige and no one sought training or employment in those roles.

    Instead, “everyone wants to be the chief or president” he said, and everyone who gets into such a role takes the money and leaves.  

    Way to help
    As North Carolina Baptists prepare to help Haiti recover, St. Sauveur suggested building a trades training school. With so much rebuilding ahead, and so few craftsman, training Haitians to lead their rebuilding effort would help to establish a middle class economy.

    Of course, St. Sauveur’s No. 1 concern is to lead Haitians to Christ, and he sees great potential in a training school with a spiritual training element.

    More immediately he says thousands need to get off the streets, and he suggests erecting temporary shelters just out of the city that each will be a distribution point for food, medicine and water. He is very concerned that survivors of the earthquake are dying in the aftermath.

    In offering his help, St. Sauveur said he would go every month if he could help navigate the local mazes in Haiti. He reminds North Carolina Baptists to bend to tasks that are good for Haitians, not necessarily good for themselves.

    In each project, he encouraged the N.C. Baptist group to incorporate several local workers and to train them. When the project is over, not only will there be a building, but also several trained Haitians who will have a way to make a living.

    He said Haitians believe in commerce and are entrepreneurs and that micro loans of just a few hundred dollars could jump start many businesses. 

    “I would strongly suggest we go there and build houses, and that we make sure we have a church and school for them too,” St. Sauveur said. “God in heaven will be very, very pleased with that. 

    “I know the job you are doing is definitely out of love. You owe us nothing but you go for love.”
    Related stories
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    Editorial: How do we best help Haiti recover?
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    Raleigh pastor clings to news, phone, hope
    Haiti conditions bad, but relief pipeline opening
    Haiti response may require $2 million
    Quake shakes ground but not Haitians’ faith
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    Spoke’n (Editor's Journal): Haitians were 1779 allies
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    Raleigh video
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    1/21/2010 9:12:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 1 comments




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