International Ministries

Volunteers in Haiti sweat, laugh, sing, and serve together in Christ

January 11, 2012 Journal
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A message from Angela Sudermann, IM's coordinator of volunteers

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.  1 Corinthians 12:26-28 New International  Version (NIV)

Volunteer participation in Haiti for 2010 increased 700% as men and women of all ages, faiths, and ethnic backgrounds, and gifts literally dropped what they were doing to pack bags of supplies and go serve their brothers and sisters in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. 

First to respond with volunteers was Kristy Engel and the Good Samaritan Hospital in La Romana, Dominican Republic.  They, along with International Ministries missionaries Ketly and Vital Pierre, led teams to provide medical care and emotional support in the tent camps.  Volunteers served alongside medical professionals from the Dominican Republic as well as Haiti.  Haitians who had lost family, homes, livelihoods yet were volunteering in the tent camps to serve their people.  Not only was medical care provided, but listening ears, heartfelt hugs, and encouragement were all part of the healing process.

Within two months of the earthquake, Herb Rogers, retired IM missionary in Haiti was receiving  construction teams in Grand Goave.  Volunteers lived in tents and worked with the Haitian community to rebuild the Siloe Baptist School. Again working alongside Haitians both employed and volunteers, the school has now been rebuilt and is serving the children in the community.

The opportunities for volunteers in Grand Goave grew as Conscience International began a housing  project, providing quick, safe, and affordable homes out of the piles of rubble.  Volunteers continue today to help the local masons, carpenters, and builders construct the homes.  The economy is boosted when the teams visit in community and purchase drinks, snacks, and homemade goods at the local vendors.  The smoothie shop thrives when teams are in town!

When cholera broke out in the north, volunteers dropped what they were doing in the USA to serve with Steve and Nancy James in Limbe, north Haiti.  Medical professionals and volunteers served tirelessly at the Ebenezer clinic during the height of the cholera epidemic in 2010/2011.  Staffed by Haitian medical professionals and Haitian volunteers and supported by Steve and Nancy James, medical missionaries with International Ministries, the Ebenezer clinic quickly transformed from a small walk in clinic to a large cholera center that was treating hundreds of patients a day.  Once again, American Baptist volunteers answered the call to serve, willing to do whatever was needed during long shifts, non-stop patient care all while taking extreme measures to stay free from cholera themselves. 

Surprising?  Not so much.  American Baptists and their ecumenical brothers and sisters have always answered the call in the time of dire need.  What has been inspiring is number and diversity of the volunteers.  From former missionaries to folks who had never been on a mission trip before, hundreds of volunteers have raised thousands of dollars, brought over an estimated ton of supplies, and have spent countless hours preparing for and serving in Haiti.  Some teams and individual volunteers have returned to Haiti, finding the heat, the dirt, the dust, and the hard labor all minor compared to the experience of serving Jesus side by side with their Haitian brothers and sisters.

American Baptist International Ministries is working in partnership with the Convention Baptiste d’ Haiti (CBH).  Volunteers have been blessed to serve alongside their Haitian brothers and sisters.  As they sweat, laugh, sing, and serve together, they also build relationships bound together in the love of Jesus Christ.

Volunteers also came to install water filter systems and serving with missionaries Kihomi Ngwemi and Nzunga Mabudiga to provide clean water to local communities.

Although it has been two years since the earthquake, our celebration is in the ongoing journey that began in the 1800’s of American Baptists and Haitian Baptists serving together to change the world for Christ. Through the years of building relationships through partnership American Baptists were able to answer the call of God to serve Haiti in a time of deepest need.   Together in the past two years volunteers have made new friends, worshipped in new styles, learned new skills from their Haitian brothers and sisters, stepped out of their own comfort zones and into the lives of others, and even helped rebuild a community along the way. 

We extend our deepest gratitude to those who serve, those who support them in so many ways, and the missionaries and partners who open their ministries to volunteers.  You have truly suffered with those who suffer… the heartache, the harsh conditions, the hard reality of Haiti.  You have honored your Haitian brothers and sister as you worked side by side with them, encouraging them and lightening their load, and you have rejoiced with them as they see hope for the future.  To God be all the Glory!

Donations are still being accepted and can be made on the IM website.  Go to www.internationalministries.org/items/80   or write a check made payable to “One Great Hour of Sharing – Haiti Earthquake Relief” and mail to: International Ministries, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482, or make a check payable to your church and write “Haiti Earthquake Relief” in the memo section.