ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Baptists in Haiti mourned the death of a
beloved pastor killed in the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Gedeon Eugene, a vice president of the Baptist Convention of
Haiti, told the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) that Bienne L’Amerique, 46, pastor
of Eglise Baptiste du Shiloh (Shiloh Baptist Church) in Port-au-Prince, was one
of thousands of victims buried in rubble of collapsed buildings in the capital
L’Amerique, described as a beloved pastor and leader among
Haiti’s Baptists, was a host to mission groups from the United States and was
due for a U.S. visit next month.
‘‘Everybody in our office is crying,’’ Jack Groblewski,
senior pastor of New Covenant Christian Community in Bethlehem, Pa., told the
Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa.
With most of Haiti’s power grid destroyed, information from
Haiti was slow in coming during the first three days after the disaster. Eugene
told BWA officials there had been no word on the fate of about 15,000 members
of six Baptist congregations located in Port-au-Prince.
Groblewski said about half of L’Amerique’s church building
collapsed, and it was constructed better than some others. The American pastor
said streets in the neighborhood where Shiloh was located are said to be lined
with corpses, which are covered with sheets or blankets because there are no
According to a BWA report, First Baptist Church in
Port-au-Prince also sustained damage.
Baptists in America responded quickly to the humanitarian
crisis, but aid was slow in arriving due to difficulty in getting into the
A medical team from North Carolina Baptist Men left for
Haiti Jan. 14, but was still trying to get across the border a day later.
Texas Baptist Men were waiting for clearance Jan. 15 to send
5,000 water-purification systems that cost $30 each. The group asked for
donations to help cover costs of the $150,000 commitment.
Buckner International was preparing four containers of shoes
and emergency food items for Haiti, which will cost $5,000 per container to
Buckner asked the public to supply new items such as new socks, tents,
toiletries and new and unopened first-aid kits.
Relief agencies said the best way to help in the short term
is to give money.
Aid cannot be distributed until staging areas are
established, and most volunteer work will not be needed until after the initial
Groups including Baptist World Aid, the Cooperative
Baptist Fellowship and American Baptist Churches USA are all raising money for
Several Baptist congregations are also making large
commitments to disaster relief. Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco,
Texas, set aside $10,000 for earthquake aid.
Mitch Randall, pastor of
NorthHaven Church in Norman, Okla., asked his church members to give money to
Baptist World Aid.
Randall visited Haiti last year to distribute mosquito nets
with His Nets, a ministry that fights malaria in developing countries started
by T Thomas, coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma.
Baptist leaders also sought prayer for Haiti. www.d365.org,
a devotional web site sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, The
Presbyterian Church USA, and the Episcopal Church, is editing content to guide
readers in devotion and prayer about Haiti.
Colleen Burroughs of Passport, Inc., the organization that
produces d365.org, said the site was created in response to 9/11, when it
became apparent that Advent literature written months earlier for students was
not relevant at the time.
The site offers daily devotions, along with Advent
and Lenten series, but it is also designed to respond immediately to events
like the tsunami in Asia or Hurricane Katrina.
“The immediate response helps make it a relevant ministry to
students,” Burroughs said. Last year d365.org had 450,000 visitors from all
around the world, and the site is currently being translated for Christians in
Mongolia at their request.