Haitian church ‘holds on’ after loss of 4 leaders
Alan James, Baptist Press
January 20, 2010

Haitian church ‘holds on’ after loss of 4 leaders

Haitian church ‘holds on’ after loss of 4 leaders
Alan James, Baptist Press
January 20, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A blue tarp tied to what’s left of

Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, serves as a safe haven for some

members who survived the Jan. 12 earthquake.

BP photo

IMB missionary Mark Rutledge prays with members of Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Several families who lost their homes during the quake are living underneath a blue tarp tied to what’s left of the church building.

A few dozen families who lost their homes are living outside the church under

the tarp. The earthquake damaged the building, collapsed the church’s school

and took the lives of their pastor, Bienne Lamerique, and three other church

leaders. One member said that, of the 2,000-member congregation, only 100 have

been accounted for since the 7.0 magnitude quake that is believed to have

killed hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti.

This week, International Mission Board missionaries Dawn Goodwin and Carlos

Llambes, Baptists from the Dominican Republic and a missionary from another

organization visited Shiloh Baptist and other churches in the area to review

damage and encourage members.

Many pews at Shiloh Baptist remain overturned and support beams appear to be


Metal rods in the beams were bent from the shifting weight of the roof

during the earthquake. The church building was under construction, so the

congregation had been meeting in an open-air auditorium.

Twenty-five-year-old Pierre Anderson and several other church members were in

the auditorium when the earthquake hit. A few members were injured, but none

seriously, Anderson said. He and the others later learned that their pastor and

three other church leaders had died in the disaster; Lamerique died of injuries

sustained when his house collapsed.

Anderson and a handful of other church members shared their stories with IMB

missionary Mark Rutledge Jan. 18. Rutledge, currently on stateside assignment,

is in Haiti to help translate for a media team as they report on the damage.

“We don’t know where our future leaders will come from,” Anderson told the


Rutledge paused while translating for Anderson, who speaks French Creole, the

heart language of Haitians. He turned and cried for a moment while members of

the congregation watched.

“One of their remaining leaders told them that they just need to hold on a little

longer,” said Rutledge, who served in Haiti for 26 years.

When Rutledge and his wife, Peggy, began serving as career missionaries in

1987, the couple attended Lamerique’s first church start, which met in a small

house in a Port-au-Prince slum. The Rutledges became close friends and prayer

partners with Lamerique and his wife.

BP photo

Members of Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which lost four key leaders in the Jan. 12 earthquake, gather outside what’s left of their church building. As church members recount stories of that horrific day, they ask for prayer that God will raise up new leaders to guide their church.

Anderson also told Rutledge he lost his two sisters in the earthquake. One of

the bodies has yet to be pulled from a collapsed building.

His faith is what is getting him through the crisis, Anderson said.

“It’s been the church’s encouragement that has helped give me strength,”

Anderson said. The church has been holding services every day outside the

building since the quake.

“No matter what happens in life, the only thing that matters is Jesus Christ,”

Anderson continued. “If you have faith, He will sustain you.”

“The same God that allowed this to happen can rebuild it,” added Roseman Louis,

who lost a cousin and a sister.

For now the church continues to move forward, but Anderson admits they are

struggling for direction and to meet physical needs since water, food and other

supplies are limited.

Thousands of displaced people — like members of Shiloh Baptist Church — are

living on the streets, in parks and just about anywhere there is open space.

Bodies still can be seen lying on the street or partially exposed in the

remains of collapsed buildings.

Amid the dire situation, “a revival could happen…,” Rutledge said. “… If

the focus is on Jesus, that kind of change can happen … a change that is more

than skin deep.

“I think there is huge potential for revival,” Rutledge added. “I believe there

is hope.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — James writes for the International Mission Board.)

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