|Florida Baptists’ 26 months of relief work in Haiti reviewed
By Barbara Denman
June 8, 2012
LEESBURG—Twenty-six months after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the core of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Florida Baptists and their partners have completed a massive response effort that sought to meet both physical and spiritual needs with food, medical treatment, chaplaincy, evangelism and rebuilding homes and churches.
During the May 25 State Board of Missions meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, a report of the relief and recovery efforts was given by the Florida Baptist team composed of Craig Culbreth, lead strategist of the Missional Support Group; Fritz Wilson, strategist for the disaster relief and recovery ministries team; Dennis Wilbanks, strategist, partnership missions team; and Eddie Blackmon and Stephanie Shermeta who led the Haiti Rebuild Team.
Florida Baptists have been in partnership with Haitian Baptists through the Confratenite Missionaire Baptiste d’Haiti (CMBH) for the past 15 years. Much of the response, orchestrated from the Florida Mission House located in Port-au-Prince, utilized the network of CMBH churches throughout the most heavily damaged areas to identify and meet specific needs.
Highlights of the initial relief response which began immediately after the January 2010 earthquake were as followed:
--40-plus medical teams treating 32,000 victims, the largest medical response in Southern Baptist Disaster Relief ministry;
--50 building inspection and chaplaincy teams providing spiritual counseling and emotional support in the immediate aftermath;
--158,000 Buckets of Hope assembled by Southern Baptists and delivered to Haitian families in need;
--140,000 pounds of rice and 40,000 pounds of beans purchased by Florida Baptists and distributed through CMBH churches;
--200 home sites cleared of debris;
--1,200 temporary shelters; and
--165,213 Haitians led to Christ resulting in 17,631 baptisms and 272 CMBH church plants.
Beginning in September 2010, Florida Baptists transitioned from relief work to Rebuild Haiti, a long-term project to rebuild homes and churches:
--1,025 permanent cement block homes measuring 12’ by 16’ built for homeless families, constructed from materials purchased in country to support the local economy;
--250 Haitians trained, discipled and employed for 19 months to rebuild homes and manage construction;
--1,975 permanent cement homes built by Florida Baptist partners: North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, International Mission Board, and Baptist Global Response combined; and
--220 churches inspected for damage and $231,000 funds released to pastors after itemized plans for repairs were submitted.
In an earlier report, the Board learned that Florida and Southern Baptists contributed over $7,396,232 to the Haiti relief efforts following the earthquake. Approximately $4.7 million of the original amount was set aside for Rebuild Haiti, which received additional contributions to provide a total of $5,232,864 for the home construction and church rebuild project. To date, the Board learned, expenditures totaled $4,900,457, leaving a balance of $322,407 in unspent funds earmarked for rebuild and relief efforts.
Board members also received a DVD with a video highlighting Florida Baptists’ ministry efforts during the past 26 months in Haiti.