There has been a large cleaning effort in the aftermath of the January earthquake in Haiti, but there is still more work to do, tons of cement to be removed, and limited to no equipment. Keith Stiles, RRT Director of Deployments, recalls one particular scene that stands out to him.
“When we were doing some training sessions we were going out into the country. Our vehicles would be the only ones in the church parking lot. Here in America, we talk about building out and expanding our churches. In Haiti, the people who go to church are the ones who can walk there.”
The RRT is still working with Samaritan’s Purse in international disaster relief in Haiti, where chaplains are encouraging Samaritan’s Purse staff as well as Haitian staff. The work is grueling and there is a major need for spiritual care. “They go out with work teams whether they are building shelters or water facilities, ministering to Haitians who lost everything, or going with the Samaritan’s Purse medical team to hospitals and clinics to pray with those suffering physically,” said Stiles. “In addition to all of these ways of ministry, we have begun pastor training.”
This pastor training will equip pastors and church leadership in Haiti to continue the ministry. The initial training began earlier this year. “I was down in Haiti back in April to do initial training. I went to five different locations throughout the country. The training was so successful, that the demand increased. Jack Munday, RRT Director and Mike Beresford, RRT Managing Director, have been back several times to train more pastors. Now, we are building a network of pastors to train other churches,” explains Stiles.
A Message of Hope and Comfort
“We are really getting away from predominant message that says, ‘The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Lord,'” says Stiles. Although this message from the book of Job is true, Stiles says that many of the Haitians believe they deserved the earthquake disaster, and that they need to dwell on a more comforting message.
“We’re taking the same message to them that we take into any disaster: We don’t know why this happened, but we will tell you what we do know – that God gave his Son so we can live. God loves you, cares about your situation, and wants to walk with you through this.”
The contagious spirit of ministry is spreading among lay leaders as well as pastors. “A group of young men who are active in their churches began going to the tent cities as soon a they were being erected, two to four weeks after the earthquake. They were taking an outreach message to the camps, and had a projector set up with screen. People would flock there,” remembered Stiles.
“This led to people coming to the Lord in big numbers. These conversions led to hunger, which led to Bible studies, which led to children’s ministry. We think this is how the pastor training will work throughout country.”
A Long-Term Commitment in Haiti
Now that the ministry momentum is up in Haiti, it shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Samaritan’s Purse is working toward Operation Christmas Child (December), which will be followed by a Franklin Graham Festival in January 2011. My Hope World Evangelism Through Television project is planned for 2011. “My Hope was working on this before the earthquake, but had to postpone,” explained Stiles.
“Now, we have a segue from phase to phase, and a long term commitment to ministry in Haiti.”
Haiti needs this long-term commitment and message of hope to keep the people looking ahead – and looking to Jesus.