Weeks after an earthquake killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed 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 membership in Haiti, the earthquake claimed the lives of 16 and injured 117. All of the injured were treated by visiting medical teams from Haiti Adventist Hospital or at the hospital itself, Pierre Caporal, president of the Haitian Union Mission of the Adventist Church, said. About 3,000 church members experienced property damage, including the destruction of their homes, he added.
“The church has been able to assist 1,000 of the neediest members with its special plan to assist members affected by disasters,” Caporal said. He added that members had 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 membership in the south.”
The church is continuing to assess the needs of church members through coordinated efforts with the leadership in the South Haiti Mission there, Caporal said. The church also assisted with burial costs for their loved ones who were members of the church.
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 community’s needs, the church organization is focused on members and ministering to their physical and spiritual needs, Caporal said. “We will continue to help alleviate the pressing needs to move forward with rebuilding.”
The latest focus has been assisting 500 church families in getting their children ready for school. The school year is scheduled to start on October 6 but has been delayed indefinitely in the region, Caporal said. “This assistance is just an extra push to help with school uniforms and supplies and provide some normalcy for students.”
He said that four Adventist schools were destroyed by the earthquake and will have to be rebuilt from the ground up. Church leaders are also coordinating efforts to begin planning the reconstruction of 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,” Caporal said.
Church members have not stopped meeting for services at locations close to the churches every Saturday (Sabbath), according to Caporal. 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 be given in times of challenges, he added.
“We are always facing challenges, because that is part of life,” Caporal said. “But amid 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 [who are] praying and sending their financial support to help in the rebuilding.”
Church leaders are working on maximizing the effectiveness of those funds to continue ministering and growing the membership. Members continue to meet outside in groups, either near their churches or at designated locations to worship every week, according to Caporal.
“We continue to pray for one another as we continue to stay strong, ready for Jesus’ soon coming,” he said.