Volunteers have ‘no bottled answers’ in Haiti
Baptist Press
February 25, 2010

Volunteers have ‘no bottled answers’ in Haiti

Volunteers have ‘no bottled answers’ in Haiti
Baptist Press
February 25, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — “What

do I do?” the Haitian man asked helplessly.

Having lost his wife and two

children and his home in Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake, he was living out of a


Butch Vernon struggled to answer the man’s question.

“I’m not asked that question a lot back in the States, you know?” the Baptist

pastor said, his voice cracking with emotion.

BP photo

Hester Pitts, a member of a Mississippi Baptist medical team in Haiti, shares a hug with a young woman who helped the volunteers during their week of work in makeshift clinics helping victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Vernon, who was in Haiti as a volunteer with a Kentucky Baptist disaster relief

team, later reflected, “It’s not one of those deals where you can say, ‘take

two (Bible) verses and call me in the morning. It’s the only time I’m going to

see that guy, and there are no bottled answers.

“I prayed with him and I hugged him, and we gave him some medicine…,” Verson,

pastor of Thoroughbred Community Church in Nicholasville, Ky., recounted. “We’re

seeing a lot of that.”

Vernon and the Kentucky team joined forces with a Mississippi Baptist disaster

relief team from Jan. 31 to Feb. 8 as part of a coordinated effort involving

the Florida Baptist Convention, which has a longstanding relationship with

Haitian Baptists; the North American Mission Board; International Mission

Board; and Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist relief and development


The toughest part for a volunteer is that you can’t help everyone, said Daniel

Edney, who directed medical response efforts by the Mississippi team.

“But we can take care of those who God puts in front of us,” said Edney, a

member of First Baptist Church in Vicksburg who led relief teams in New Orleans

following Hurricane Katrina and in southern Asia after the tsunami.

“When those you help walk out with a smile on their face, you know you’ve done


When the Mississippi volunteers pulled up to a church on the outskirts of

Port-au-Prince, they were surprised to see people praising and worshipping God

even as they were struggling to get by without adequate food and water.

“It was a neat thing to drive up and hear them singing and praising the Lord

and worshipping,” said Kay Cassibry, state Woman’s Missionary Union executive

director who led the 10-member relief team.

“They have been so receptive,” added Cassibry, a member of Highland Colony

Baptist Church in Ridgeland.

“People do not know us, but they are receptive to

our hugs and everything,” she said during an on-site interview.

During the week, the Mississippi team helped at makeshift medical clinics and

saw more than 1,100 patients.

“We have treated all kinds of things,” Cassibry said while walking through one

of the clinics. “There were a lot of respiratory problems, a lot of infection.

We had to set a couple of bones.

BP photo

At a makeshift clinic, Daniel Edney, who traveled to Haiti with a Mississippi Baptist disaster relief medical team, prays over a man suffering from a high fever, dehydration and serious infections.

“We’ve got a guy on an IV,” she added. “He asked for a Bible as soon as he woke

up. We were pretty excited about that.”

For Hester Pitts, another Mississippi volunteer, the biggest blessings were the

thank you letters team members were receiving from Haitians.

“I know what it means for us to be here,” said Pitts, a member of First Baptist

Church of Vicksburg, “but (these letters are) tangible evidence of what it

means for them.”

Pitts, a retired medical technologist, was on vacation with her husband Kerry

and two other couples in Tampa, Fla., when she was contacted about joining the

relief team.

She admitted she wanted to wait until later to volunteer, but she

couldn’t shake her burden for Haiti.

She agreed to go to Haiti immediately and asked others in her vacation group if

they wanted to join her.

One of the friends, David Baldwin, broke down in


“He said, ‘Hester, I’ve been sitting here praying that God would open that door

for me to go,’” Pitts said. “I could not believe it.”

Within two hours, the couples were on the road back to Mississippi so that

Pitts and Baldwin could prepare for their trip.

For Pitts, giving up her

vacation became an opportunity of a lifetime.

“I’m just thankful that I didn’t miss the experience,” she said. “I came so

close to telling God ‘no.’”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by International Mission Board staff. For more on the

volunteers’ experience in Haiti, go to commissionstories.com/haitivols or see video below.)