SBTS community works through local churches to help Haiti

Communications Staff — February 15, 2010

When a magnitude 7.0 earthquake pummeled Haiti on Jan. 12, leaving untold thousands dead, the church gained an unprecedented opportunity to rise up and provide the world with a picture of the mercy of a sovereign God.

As casualty totals mounted in staggering numbers in the days following the deadly tremor, many churches in Louisville led or populated by students, staff and faculty from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary did precisely that. Several congregations began relief efforts for Haiti and plan to continue assistance as rescue and recovery in Haiti turns to rebuilding.

Sojourn Community Church, where SBTS graduate Daniel Montgomery serves as pastor, had a unique opportunity in the days following the earthquake. Sojourn had already started plans for a concert to benefit G.O. Ministries, a Christian non-profit organization that seeks to help build sustainable communities in impoverished areas.

When the earthquake devastated Haiti, the church’s leadership believed they should focus the concert on raising awareness for the plight of the people in Haiti. All of the proceeds from the concert went to benefit the ministry’s efforts in Haiti. As many churches did, Sojourn took a special Haiti offering in all five of its services at its two campuses on the Sunday following the earthquake.

At Ninth & O Baptist, where SBTS professor Bill Cook pastors, former Southern student Robert Patterson acted quickly to help through his connection with Agape Flights. Patterson, himself a pilot, said the Christian missionary aviation group has helped supply missionaries for years through weekly flights to Port
Au Prince.

Patterson and Ninth & O’s leadership organized a collection of medical supplies and food the Sunday after the earthquake, which Patterson then hand-delivered to the Florida-based aviation group.

Ninth & O also served as one of the sites – along with Second Baptist Church in Madisonville, Ky. – for Kentucky Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Training. Southern is working closely with the KBC to provide aid to Haiti in the form of resources and staffing. The Disaster Relief Training is necessary for anyone who wants to do volunteer work in Haiti with the KBC.

Michael Clark, director of the Church Planting Center at Sojourn, said that because of the KBC’s commitment to disaster relief in Haiti, Sojourn has channeled all of its members to work with the state convention in providing hands on disaster relief in the devastated nation.

Clifton Baptist Church, whose pastor is SBTS professor Tom Schreiner, has a couple of members with connections to Haiti. The father of Jeremy Pierre, a professor at Boyce College and an elder at Clifton, serves as chairman of the board of the Baptist Haiti Mission.

Nate Harmon, a Clifton member, has kept the church appraised of the situation on the ground in Haiti through his family that works with an orphanage in Haiti. In both cases, Clifton’s leadership is keeping church members informed on how they can give financially to support these causes.

While some churches, such as Highview Baptist Church, do not have direct contacts on the ground in Haiti, they are heavily committed to helping however they can. Highview’s leadership has pointed its members toward the Southern Baptist Convention’s existing channels for disaster relief.

William Brown, minister of missions at Highview, said that in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Highview took an offering totaling nearly $12,000 to help with relief efforts. The International Mission Board, Baptist Global Relief and the Florida Baptists have all mobilized efforts for the disaster relief work in Haiti.

The desire to help in significant ways is a response shared by many churches, regardless of size. New Heights Baptist Church, where Southern Seminary student Cody McNutt serves as pastor, is using church events to encourage its congregants to give to relief efforts in Haiti. On Feb. 14, New Heights will host a world mission’s banquet, where an offering will be taken to support Baptist relief efforts in Haiti.

As the recovery turns into rebuilding, many churches in Louisville and throughout the country will be praying about ways to continue supporting the people of Haiti. As the situation continues to be sorted out, Southern Seminary will continue to provide details at news.sbts.edu and inside.sbts.edu about opportunities to partner with existing ministries already on the ground. For the latest on KBC disaster relief efforts, visit http://www.kybaptist.org/kbc.nsf/pages/disaster-relief.html.

Garrett E. Wishall contributed to this story.

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