With the world focused on the horrific aftermath of last week's earthquake in Haiti, thousands of churches, ministries and organizations across the United States have responded with love in action.
Major organizations such as the Salvation Army, Samaritan's Purse, World Vision, Campus Crusade for Christ and Compassion International are in the process of supplying basic necessities for survivors. Working with other relief agencies, Salvation Army volunteers have prepared 1.25 million meals to be sent to those waiting for aid, while more than 370 World Vision staff members in Haiti are bringing emergency supplies such as water filtration systems, blankets, hygiene kits and tents.
Countless stateside churches are also offering whatever help they can, from providing financial donations to sending teams to assist with emergency relief efforts. Among congregations with Haitian connections, the sense of urgency to do something—anything—is understandably greater.
"If you find a penny, give it to Haiti," urged Willy Besson, pastor of Salem Pentecostal Haitian Church in New Holland, Pa., to both his congregation and his community. "Now is the time to put everything you can into helping our brothers and sisters." Despite its small membership, Besson's rural church is filling a 48-foot trailer with food, water and medical supplies that the pastor hopes to deliver to Haiti within the next few days.
"We're really crying," Besson added. "We've been meeting every day since the day [of the earthquake] to find out what we are we going to do, but it seems, for us, we are helpless because we cannot go there."
Other Haitian-American congregations are gathering together not only to send supplies, but also to encourage each other amid the common grief of losing family members. David Eugene, pastor of Haitian Evangelical Baptist Church in Miami, said his service this past Sunday was a challenge as more than half the congregation still hadn't heard from relatives in Haiti. Describing their time together as "very emotional," Eugene reminded the church of God's promises in the Bible to not forsake His people and urged them to rely on Him more as their strength in a time of need.
"I had to comfort the congregation and offer them hope," he said. "I told them that the Lord can open up the curtains of time and let us see a new Haiti. That is our prayer."
Thousands of miles away, a group of pastors including Mark Driscoll from Seattle's Mars Hill Church and James MacDonald from Chicago's Harvest Bible Chapel, are personally traveling to Haiti to deliver 1,000 pounds of relief supplies. "As the images started coming in after the earthquake, I became haunted by Haiti," Driscoll wrote on his blog prior to leaving. "Suddenly, our lives seemed so simple and so blessed. Whatever had troubled us before we were haunted by Haiti suddenly shrank in significance as the reality of true pain and massive suffering pressed itself before our eyes and into our hearts." [lancasteronline.com, 1/18/10; whptv.com, 1/18/10; usatoday.com, 1/18/10; blog.marshillchurch.org, 1/16/10; christianpost.com, 1/16/10]