Weeks after an earthquake killed more than 2,000 people, shattered homes and buildings in Haiti’s southern peninsula, the Seventh-day Adventist Church continues to assist thousands of members and their families while planning to rebuild two dozen churches and schools that were destroyed.
Among the church members in Haiti, the earthquake claimed the lives of 16 and injured 117. All of the injured were treated by a medical team from Haiti Adventist Hospital or at the hospital, said Pastor Pierre Caporal, President of the church in Haiti. About 3,000 church members experienced property damage, including the destruction of their homes, he said.
“The church has been able to assist 1,000 of the neediest members with its special plan to assist members affected by disasters,” said Caporal. Members have received food, clothes, money, and basic supplies to help them survive their new reality. “We are so thankful to the Adventist world church and the Inter-American Division for sending us funds to care for our affected members...”
The church is continuing to assess the needs of church members through coordinated efforts with the leadership in the South Haiti Mission and has also assisted with burial costs.
In addition, 50 pastoral families and church employees have received assistance in the aftermath of the earthquake.
While the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Haiti and the Adventist hospital have been catering to the needs of the community, the church is focused on members and ministering to their physical and spiritual needs, said Caporal. “We will continue to help alleviate the pressing needs to move forward with rebuilding.”
This month, the focus has been on assisting 500 church families in getting their children ready for school. School is scheduled to start on Oct. 6, but has been delayed indefinitely in the region. “This assistance is just an extra push to help with school uniforms and supplies and provide some normalcy for students.”
Four Adventist schools were destroyed by the earthquake and will have to be rebuilt from the ground up, he said. Church leaders are coordinating efforts to begin planning reconstruction in the coming weeks. Reconstruction will have to start for 22 churches that sustained extensive damage.
It’s an undertaking that will take time and careful coordination since access to the southern peninsula is difficult with the unsafe passage through Martissant, a community at the southern exit of Port-au-Prince with a national road that connects to the southern peninsula.
“The project of rebuilding is very big, but we will continue to move ahead as long as funds are available to do so,” said Caporal.
Church members have continued meeting every Sabbath at locations near the churches . Just two weeks after the earthquake, the church in Jérémie, one of the areas most affected, held an evangelistic meeting at a public location that drew more than 100 people every night for two weeks, he said. There is always hope to give in times of challenges, he added.
“We are always facing challenges because that is part of life, “said Caporal. “But in the midst of those challenges, we see the miraculous ways God intervenes to protect and help His people. We see how we are part of a great family. We are not alone for we have brothers and sisters all around the world church praying and sending their financial support to help in the rebuilding.”
Church leaders are working on maximizing those funds to continue ministering and growing the membership. Members continue to meet outside in groups, either near their churches or at designated locations every week.
“We continue to pray for one another as we continue to stay strong [and focus on being] ready for Jesus’ soon coming!”