Haitian Boyce student praises God his family is safe, prays for the future of his country

Communications Staff — February 18, 2010

Boyce College student and missionary Abel Barthelemy is from the south-Haiti port city of Jacmel. Nearly one month after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Haiti, Barthelemy is praising God his family is safe, but hurts for his city. He speaks of the natural disaster in a concerned but calm tone, recognizing the Lord’s sovereignty over all situations.

“I think God is always good, He is always sovereign. He is loving and compassionate but because of the sin of our world we have consequences,” Barthelemy said. “He is in control, and He shows that.”

Just 25 miles from Haiti’s capital city Port-au-Prince, the Jan. 12 earthquake struck Jacmel with equal force, and yet two weeks after the quake the city continued to wait for any kind of aid. The Miami Herald newspaper reported that piles of dirt and fallen boulders have blocked the narrow, winding road that leads from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel. Being cut off from fresh water, food and medical supplies has raised the town’s death toll, which Barthelemy said had already reached 3,000.

Barthelemy said that in the aftermath of the quake 1,785 homes were completely destroyed and 4,410 were partially destroyed in his hometown, displacing nearly 6,000 families. Many of Jacmel’s 35,000 residents are living in tents or some kind of makeshift structure. The majority of Barthelemy and his wife Cerette’s family members are fortunate to have tents, but many Haitians find themselves homeless. Barthelemy continues to praise God that his immediate family wasn’t physically harmed in the quake, but asks for prayers that their need for food, water and shelter be met during this time of recovery.

“God has put them there for a reason. God is powerful, and He alone is sovereign,” Barthelemy said. “I trust that they will be okay.”

Barthelemy’s hometown overlooks the blue waters of the Caribbean and its streets used to boast buildings reflecting historic French architecture. Today, the ocean is about the only thing that remains. In Jacmel, 24 hotels and 87 businesses no longer have a structure. Barthelemy is pleased that the city’s 200-year-old Baptist church remains standing and he hopes the church rises to the occasion and goes on mission to meet the people’s physical needs and share the Gospel with them.

“In 35 seconds we lost people for an eternity; that should make us want to be on mission,” Barthelemy said. “I want to challenge them (the Baptist church) to be on mission and tell people about the Gospel.”

Barthelemy has long had a heart for missions. Prior to enrolling in Boyce College he served through the Evangelical Baptist Union of Haiti (UEBH) in a number of Haitian cities. While on mission, Barthelemy has helped plant churches, equip schools and spread the Gospel. His three children: Abel Jobert, 13, Abelson, 10, and Laurett, 4, were born while he and Cerette were on the mission field.

Barthelemy has three semesters remaining at Boyce, and upon graduation he feels God is already calling him back to his native land to continue his mission work.

“This is a wonderful school; all the professors have a great, deep conscience for the ministry and the Gospel. There is no better place to be,” he said. “There is no good school to train ministers in Haiti, but my heart wants to go back.

“Thank you to all professors and staff at Boyce and SBTS who are praying for me and have given me strength through prayer. Thank you to the Southern Baptist Convention for the relief effort. I also thank all Americans who are giving with a compassionate heart.”

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