Dear Members and Friends of Ascension,
It is with a heavy heart that I send out this message in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The words and pictures that we have been seeing on the news and online seem to defy comprehension and are so very sad. For those of us who have been able to travel to Haiti on one or more of the mission trips these past 4 years, there is no doubt a deep rending of the heart.
Our thoughts and prayers certainly go out to the people of Haiti – and to those who are seeking to bring help and relief in the wake of this disaster. Many of you have asked me about the ministries we have been involved with through the Lazarus Project and also how we might be able to help the Haitian people. To that end I share the following:
Lazarus Project – With the breakdown of both communication and transportation, there are still many unanswered questions. Hope House (HH), which is the “home base” for all the Mission Teams, had significant damage, especially to the high walls around the compound which enclose the buildings and grounds. There was/is a mission team in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. Fortunately, there was no significant injury to them. The Little Children of Jesus Orphanage (LCJ) for the special needs kids also had some damage to its buildings but no injury to the kids. Grace Mission and School (GM) had its church collapse, but fortunately the girls who live upstairs were not injured. The school seems to be OK and Marie Major’s home is damaged but again no injuries. To date I have not heard anything about the Village of Hope School (VOH) itself. But since that is some miles out in the country, I am hoping that there are no significant losses there, but again, we don’t know anything yet. Certainly the time of day would have had the students gone and most of the staff as well. But it is with the staff – particularly the teachers and administrators that I am most concerned. Many of them live in the Port au Prince area, and that is where many of the pictures showing significant damage are being taken. Unless you have been to Haiti, it is hard to describe how there is building upon building upon building. And it is many of these “multi-storied” and “stacked” structures that have partially or totally collapsed. So we eagerly await more news about VOH and the teachers. If you would like to read more details, please visit: Updates from Debbie Berquist.
How Best To Help? – Right now I would suggest a couple of options. Here at Ascension, we have established a “Haiti Relief Fund” and each week we will be forwarding the money received in that fund to our Lazarus Project partners for them to disburse on our behalf. The ELCA International Disaster Relief has mobilized funds as well and you can give through that effort. (see press release below!) As more information becomes available, we will add to or alter our response so that we can provide whatever might be needed the most. Right now, financial donations are the best help we can offer, so please give as God prompts you. As we become aware of other needs, we will let you know! (There are no doubt many other good ways to get money to where it is needed, but sadly there will also be “scams” as well. Please choose carefully and prayerfully!)
CHICAGO (ELCA) — International Disaster Response of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) announced it will immediately commit $250,000 to support response efforts to the earthquake in Haiti. It will also advance another $500,000 in anticipation of additional gifts from ELCA members. ELCA members can contribute gifts online at Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – Haiti Earthquake Relief or call 800-638-3522.
Ascension Member in Haiti – Some of you are aware that Katie Emery, daughter of John & Teresa and a student at Luther Seminary, was on a study trip to Haiti with other seminarians. They actually arrived in Port au Prince on Tuesday morning but were out of the area when the earthquake hit later that day. Katie and the others are safe and are awaiting transport back home. (See the email from John below!)
They are in Jacmel on the north coast, so away from the epicenter. We heard they spent a night outdoors due to damage to their quarters, but have now been placed in a hotel by the UN. They are OK, but unable to get back to Port au Prince due damaged roads and emergency traffic. They are helping the afflicted as they are able and will be sent home as soon as arrangements can be made.
2010 Haiti Mission Trip? – We were exploring the possibility of a mission trip to Haiti in mid to late June but nothing firm had been established. Obviously now, the circumstances there have changed dramatically and so we will see where God might lead us and what might be open. If that IS something that interests you, please let me know and we will keep you posted!
One Good News Source – There are so many ways to get news these days, but in case you are interested, I find that the BBC is often a great source for news on the international scene. Here’s a link you can use: BBC NEWS | News Front Page.
Lutherans Responding to Needs around the World – You might be amazed to learn just how much good work the ELCA does in response to disasters and crises around the world. Please consider visiting this site from time to time: ELCA Disaster Response – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Likewise, as Lutherans around the world join together through Lutheran World Relief, you might add this one to your “favorites” as well! Lutheran World Relief – Disaster Response, Fair Trade, and Advocacy
Persist in Prayer! – Finally I would urge you to keep lifting up prayers for the people of Haiti and for all the relief efforts. We may never know the extent of the loss and damage, but this long-troubled nation has so many of its people in need and some of the recent gains in stability are certainly going to be sorely tested. Callous comments about a “pact with the devil” seem to me to offer nothing positive or helpful to a desperate situation. And since I believe that Jesus died for the people of Haiti as much as he died for you and me I pray that God would bring healing and restoration along with a better future to this “Lazarus” at our door.
Thanks for all that you do in Jesus’ name!