By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
HUNTINGTOWN, Md.—Emmanuel Church members are not only helping Haiti earthquake victims, but they’re putting together a coalition for churches, small groups and individuals to partner together to minister effectively.
The church saw the need in Haiti after last year’s deadly earthquake and they quickly responded by sending a mission team, led by Emmanuel Church’s Senior Pastor Vic Simpson just two months after the deadly catastrophe. The team built shelters and distributed food and clean water in the southern area of Port-Au-Prince. Many areas they worked in had not received aid. When the team reported back to the church about the incredible devastation and despair and the need for Christ’s healing, the church wanted to do more.
“It was very heart wrenching. We felt God was leading us to do something long-term,” Tripp Causey, an elder and ongoing mission team leader said. Causey explained that the church decided that rather than minister on their own, they would partner with organizations that were already on the ground, with people who know the uniqueness of Haiti and its people.
They commissioned a second mission team that travelled back to Haiti late last summer on a “fact-finding” trip, prayerfully seeking out potential partner organizations. They chose Baptist Haiti Mission and New Missions, both older established ministries. Working with New Missions on the Leogane Plain, Emmanuel is committing to a five to ten year relationship to assist the people of the town of Santo, helping them rebuild churches, schools and medical facilities. Causey said it will take time to gather necessary supplies but the church plans to return in September to begin their work there.
This May, Emmanuel mission teams will also work on a project with Baptist Haiti Mission helping with the rebuilding efforts in the area of Fermathe.
Emmanuel members wanted to use their experience to facilitate other churches, small groups and individuals who want to minister in Haiti.
Last November, Emmanuel hosted an informational meeting to determine interest in forming a mission coalition with other area churches and interested people. New Missions President Tim DeTellis was the guest speaker. Twenty people attended.
“That’s how we feel the Lord can use us—by banding together,” Causey explained.
Church members who can’t go to Haiti rally around the mission projects with prayer and support. At Christmas, they quickly assembled 172 shoeboxes filled with gifts for children. The annual church Christmas offering was also earmarked for Haiti this year and the church exceeded their goal of $15,000. In addition, church members are also sponsoring approximately 50 Haitian children, providing funds for uniforms, school supplies, meals and other items necessary for the kids to attend school. Tripp said the church is excited about the opportunity to invest in the education of future Haiti leaders. Though the church is making an impact, they know it’s a long, hard road ahead.
“The rebuilding of Haiti will probably take a lifetime,” Causey reflected. “It’s hard for us to grasp,” he said.
Asked what initiated the Haitian mission fervor, Causey replied, “God said, ‘Go!’”
Causey said that when Katrina hit the south, several church members quickly assembled and headed to help in New Orleans and Mississippi. The church continues to follow up and still sends team to help with rebuilding efforts. Church member Chris Murphy led many of the Katrina recovery teams and Murphy now co-leads the Haiti initiatives with Causey.
“We’re trying to let the Lord lead us in what He wants us to do,” Causey said.
“If you go to Haiti, your life will be changed and you will come back and change the lives of others. I think that is what has happened here and I hope it continues to happen. We are unhappy when the electricity goes out for a few hours. In Haiti, they are glad to just have a shelter even without electricity. It has changed my viewpoint on what is important in life,” Causey said.