Raleigh pastor clings to news, phone, hope
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
January 21, 2010

Raleigh pastor clings to news, phone, hope

Raleigh pastor clings to news, phone, hope
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
January 21, 2010

Erilus St. Sauveur lost a sister and two nephews to the

Haitian earthquake Jan. 12.

His sorrow was mitigated only by the first phone call from

his son in Haiti six days after the quake to say he was alive.

St. Sauveur, pastor of First Haitian Tabernacle of Grace in

Raleigh, is no stranger to pain, having lost three siblings during political

violence in Haiti years ago. With seven children of their own, he and wife

Mureille, are parents to six other relatives for whom they’ve taken


With the television in his sparsely furnished house in

Garner tuned constantly to news, and his telephone ever at hand, St. Sauveur

yearns for any news from his native island. He knows all surviving relatives

are living on the street with hundreds of thousands of others.

He also has learned how narrow the margin between life and

death is.

One of St. Sauveur’s grandsons was with his father in Haiti

on Jan. 12 when they heard a strange noise. The father stepped outside the

house to look at the sky, just before the ceiling collapsed on his son. The

boy’s last words were, “Help me; save me.”

St. Sauveur also lost a niece and her two children. The four

churches and two schools he planted in Haiti are all destroyed, with 12 known

casualties. The fate of many others is simply unknown.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Erilus St. Sauveur (see video)

He is anxious to get to Haiti to assess the situation, and

pledges his availability to help any group going over.

St. Sauveur, an entrepreneurial church planter who started

14 churches in the Chicago area and two more in Pennsylvania, moved to North

Carolina just last year in search of warmer weather for better health.

He formed an organization called Solid Rock. Prior to that

he worked under the auspices of two other denominations and his church is now

meeting in the facilities of Athens Drive Baptist Church in Raleigh.

He was a district overseer for 42 congregations in Haiti

when he left for America in 1985 as a missionary to reach Haitians for God.

His vision is to start Haitian churches everywhere. “We plan

to go and get them for the Lord,” he said, noting also Haitian populations in

Charlotte, High Point and Greensboro. “You have to go out there and cry in the

wilderness like John the Baptist and people will come to you,” he said.

He called Raleigh a “tough place” to start a Haitian church

and said if a preacher does not “have God’s spirit after a while you will say

au revoir and will leave.”

St. Sauveur, 58, grew up with an aunt in Port-au-Prince from

age five after she took him in following destruction of his hometown of

Anse-a-veau by a hurricane. She was a member of First Baptist Church of


St. Sauveur offers some insight as to why Haiti is so poor.

He said Haitians picked up from the French colonialists that only certain

professions had honor. Craftsmen or tradesmen had no prestige and no one sought

training or employment in those roles.

Instead, “everyone wants to be the chief or president” he

said, and everyone who gets into such a role takes the money and leaves.

Way to help

As North Carolina Baptists prepare to help Haiti recover,

St. Sauveur suggested building a trades training school. With so much

rebuilding ahead, and so few craftsman, training Haitians to lead their

rebuilding effort would help to establish a middle class economy.

Of course, St. Sauveur’s No. 1 concern is to lead Haitians

to Christ, and he sees great potential in a training school with a spiritual

training element.

More immediately he says thousands need to get off the streets,

and he suggests erecting temporary shelters just out of the city that each will

be a distribution point for food, medicine and water. He is very concerned that

survivors of the earthquake are dying in the aftermath.

In offering his help, St. Sauveur said he would go every

month if he could help navigate the local mazes in Haiti. He reminds North

Carolina Baptists to bend to tasks that are good for Haitians, not necessarily

good for themselves.

In each project, he encouraged the N.C. Baptist group to incorporate

several local workers and to train them. When the project is over, not only

will there be a building, but also several trained Haitians who will have a way

to make a living.

He said Haitians believe in commerce and are entrepreneurs

and that micro loans of just a few hundred dollars could jump start many


“I would strongly suggest we go there and build houses, and

that we make sure we have a church and school for them too,” St. Sauveur said.

“God in heaven will be very, very pleased with that.

“I know the job you are doing is definitely out of

love. You owe us nothing but you go for love.”

Related stories

First N.C. team returns

Editorial: How do we best help Haiti recover?

First-person post from Haiti: ‘Unbelievable’

Spoke’n: Finding the first question

Haiti video available

Raleigh pastor clings to news, phone, hope

Haiti conditions bad, but relief pipeline opening

Haiti response may require $2 million

Quake shakes ground but not Haitians’ faith

Major aftershock hits Haiti

Haitian church ‘holds on’ after loss of 4 leaders

Second NC team into Haiti

Baptists confront Haiti challenge

Missionaries heartbroken over tragedy

Baptist pastor confirmed among dead in Haiti

Seven trying to get to Haiti

Florida convention staff missing

Haiti teams focus on urgent & long-term needs

Baptist worker in Haiti reported safe

N.C. Baptists gathering response effort for Haiti

Spoke’n (Editor’s Journal): Haitians were 1779 allies

Spoke’n: Finding the first question

The Way I Hear It (blog): How to Handle Haiti

Answering the Call (blog): No ‘Flash in the Pan’ Needed

Guest column: Hope for Haiti

Raleigh video

IMB video