Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brethren delegation from US arrives in Haiti today; Haitian Brethren church leader is reported missing.

A Church of the Brethren delegation of mission and disaster relief leaders from the US is to arrive in Haiti today to do assessment and begin the church’s response to the massive earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince area last Tuesday.

The delegation includes Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) in Miami, Fla.; Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries; Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the church’s current hurricane rebuilding project in Haiti; and Klebert Exceus, Haiti consultant for the hurricane rebuilding project.

Also today, a key Haitian Brethren church leader has been reported missing: Pastor Ives who leads one of the three Brethren congregations in Port-au-Prince and is moderator of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti).

News also has been received that some members of Pastor Ives’ congregation have lost their lives, and that the church building of at least one Brethren congregation in Port-au-Prince has collapsed.

News from Haitian Brethren:

The news from the Haitian Brethren in Port-au-Prince was received from Pastor Sauyeux, pastor of a Brethren congregation in Descubierta, the Dominican Republic. He passed the news along to Irvin Heishman, DR mission coordinator for the Church of the Brethren, and Tom Crago, a Church of the Brethren member currently in the DR.

Pastor Sauyeux "went into Haiti to check on the Church of the Brethren churches there," wrote Heishman and Crago in an e-mail. "His report is that Pastor Ives is missing. The church in Del Matre collapsed and some church members have died. The other two pastors (in the Port-au-Prince area) are known to be okay. Members are living in the street and it rained today. There is disorder, with looting."

Pastor Ives was described today as the "spiritual leader" of the Haitian Brethren by Jay Wittmeyer, executive of Global Mission Partnerships for the Church of the Brethren. He expressed deep concern for Ives’ wellbeing and that of his congregation.

Many of the Church of the Brethren members from the Port-au-Prince area have been able to relocate in northern Haiti with family, added a report from Roy Winter at Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Other news has been received from Haitian Brethren through family members in the United States who are living in the Miami and Orlando areas of Florida, and in New York. From some informal reports, it appears that numerous members of Haitian Brethren congregations in the US may have lost family members in the earthquake, and that many have not yet heard from family living in Haiti.

US Brethren delegation arrives in Haiti today:

An e-mail received yesterday from Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, reports that the Brethren delegation successfully obtained a flight to Port-au-Prince with Missionary Flights International (MFI). The flight was to leave for Haiti today.

"The fact we got through to MFI is rather amazing," Winter wrote. "Normally they only fly missionaries or workgroups directly connected to MFI’s mission partners. Maybe because of some special intervention, they responded to a call and e-mail from Jeff, while ignoring hundreds of others."

When the group arrived at the Orlando (Fla.) airport to have their supplies weighed for the flight, Winter wrote, "It was still chaos. The passenger list is hand written on a legal pad, but we saw ‘Boshart - 4' confirming our seats. We also saw some of the old DC-3, a vintage 1940s plane, that will be our ride to Port-au-Prince tomorrow.

"The chaos came from the multiple efforts going on at MFI," Winter explained. "They are collecting donations for Haiti, have gone from two flights a week to two flights a day. All while supporting their other mission points and other parts of Haiti."

Dick Snook, president of MFI, personally put the Brethren group’s bags on a pallet to be ready for the flight the next day, "so we left feeling like we are as ready as possible," Winter commented.

One of the group’s first plans on arrival in Port-au-Prince is to try to organize a meeting with Haitian Brethren church leaders.

Brethren Service Center begins shipping relief supplies to Haiti:

The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is beginning shipments of relief materials to Haiti. The Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources staff at the center, led by director Loretta Wolf, are working to coordinate shipments being made ready for Haiti on behalf of IMA World Health, Church World Service (CWS), and Lutheran World Relief.

"Church World Service has arranged for one air shipment and one ocean shipment," Wolf reported in an e-mail today. "The air shipment contains 14,743 pounds of blankets, baby kits, hygiene kits, flashlights, and toothpaste. It will be picked up today. The ocean shipment is one 40-foot container with blankets, baby kits, and hygiene kits. The container will leave New Windsor tomorrow. Initial plans are for the container to enter through the Dominican Republic. We are currently receiving medicines and packing medicine boxes for IMA."

Emergency Disaster Fund gives grant for Haiti refugee effort in New York:

Brethren Disaster Ministries has requested a grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund of $5,000 for the Haitian First Church of New York, which is a Church of the Brethren congregation, and the New York Disaster Interfaith Services. The grant will fund the establishment of a family assistance center to assist Haitians relocating to the US following the earthquake.

The center will offer refugees a variety of services including help from the American Red Cross, chaplains, mental health services, resettlement support in the form of housing vouchers, casework services, and an Internet café to assist with communication.

United Methodist leaders die in Haiti:

Disaster News Network has reported that United Methodists are mourning the deaths of Sam W. Dixon Jr., the head of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and Clint Rabb, head of the organization's office of mission volunteers, who died last week in Haiti as a result of injuries received when the hotel in they were meeting collapsed.

Dixon and several other mission and relief specialists had been dropped off at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince just minutes before the earthquake hit. It was the same hotel from which three staff of IMA World Health were rescued safely last Friday.

"Sam Dixon was a tireless servant of the church of Jesus Christ on behalf of all of us," said Bishop Joel N. Martinez, interim top executive of The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. "His death is an incalculable loss to Global Ministries, UMCOR, and our worldwide ministry of relief to God’s most vulnerable children."

Source: 1/19/2010 Newsline Special

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