Earthquake in Ecuador: Crisis Response

Following a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador on April 16, 2016, ReachGlobal Crisis Response evaluated the need and sprung into action.

From Crisis Response:

child with bible“Kids frequently have the most difficult time processing trauma, so our response to the Ecuadorian earthquake is making kids and their families the primary focus. We have a team in Ecuador this week equipping kids’ ministry workers and church leaders with the basics of trauma mitigation. Those workers will then be going out to reproduce this equipping in the context of child friendly spaces.

“Our initial plan is to set up 40-60 of these outreaches that will impact 20-30 families at each location. We’ve set a goal of $25,000, which would allow us to prayerfully see as many as 500 of these outreaches across the affected region.”

For more information about the response and to give online, please visit the Ecuador Earthquake Response page on the EFCA website.

New roof, new life in Haiti

By Steve Spellman

I laughed as I watched the little boy’s mother jump into Anne-Marie’s arms.

Anne-Marie Johnson is part of our GlobalFingerprints Haiti leadership team and had come to visit the boy’s home. Anne-Marie had never met the child before. She had never met the mother before. She had never been to this home before. So what was it that caused this mother to almost knock Anne-Marie to the ground at first sight?

Some three months before, a family in the United States began sponsoring the boy through the GlobalFingerprints program. Two weeks later, the boy’s Haitian supervisor, Evans, visited him for the first time. Per his monthly routine, Evans evaluated the boy’s medical, nutritional, educational, spiritual, and general living situation. By the end of that day, he was talking to the Haitian leadership team about the unique and urgent need in the boy’s home.

Evans knew something was seriously wrong the minute he walked into the home. Yes, the family is very poor and lives in a tiny two-room house in one of Port au Prince’s slums. But that was not the issue. The issue was that he could see the sky through the numerous holes in the tin roof. The mother later told Evans that during the rainy season, the family passed many a night standing up in a corner of the room because their bed (a moldy cushion on the floor) would be underwater.

The cost for the repair was only $400, but that this six months’ salary for most Haitians.

Our Haitian team immediately allocated money for the roof repair from their emergency fund. At the same time, the program was given a one-time gift of $150 from a church in Chile. Within two weeks, materials were delivered. Soon afterward, a construction worker, the Haitian head of GlobalFingerprints, and the mom worked together to remove the old tin and wood slats and replace them with a whole new structure.

The mother had no idea that this would be part of the program’s commitment to her child. And so on this day, Anne-Marie had the joy of virtually being tackled by a thankful mother — a mom who was able to sleep through last night’s rain storm safe and dry for the first time in years.

P.S. The GlobalFingerprints Haitian team should have that moldy cushion issue solved by the end of this month!

Mexico: ‘We need water’

Emergency drinking water needed in storm-ravaged town

Mexican MudFrom ReachGlobal Mexico City Team Leader Joshua Smith:

As we stepped into the village of Bejuco, it was like a war zone. The military had arrived to respond to the massive flooding, most villagers had been forced to flee and live in temporary refuge centers, and those who remained said very simply, “We need water.”

Through partnerships with local pastors, the regional government of Coyuca and Operation Blessing, we have arranged to bring two water treatment facilities to the area. One will be placed in the city center and provided clean drinking water that will be distributed to the most affected villages in the region. The other will be placed in this village, meeting a pressing physical need. Both water plants will be supervised by local pastors who will ensure that both clean water and the Living Water are offered to the people of the area.

We hope that the Lord might use this crisis to break the crippling power of local drug lords and bring salvation and hope to the region through His gospel and His church.

How to help

We need to raise $2,000 immediately to cover the cost of the water plants and related ministry efforts. Please donate at Mexico Emergency Flood Response.

Haiti Summit seeks better approaches to aid, ministry

By Laura-Jean Watson

Three years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, a grim situation festers there as Haitian and American church leaders work to rethink how and why help is exchanged.

Dr. Jean Dorlus
Dr. Jean Dorlus

Dr. Jean Dorlus, speaking at a recent Haiti Summit organized by ReachGlobal Crisis Response, described a foreign-aid process that he said prevents Haiti from achieving much progress. Part of foreign aid is when a government simply cancels debt owed by Haiti, and it counts as aid. Another part, often as high as 60 percent, goes toward paying salaries for foreign administrators. Donors often dictate the projects and objectives they will support, never asking the Haitians what is most needed.  There is also often a lack of coordination between non-profit groups.

“How has the church done similar things?” says Dorlus, president of Séminaire de Théologie Evangélique de Port-au-Prince (STEP). “How can we correct it and be very helpful?  How can we do differently?”

Ministry leaders from Haiti and the United States spoke at the May 13-15 summit at the Hershey (Pa.) Evangelical Free Church. About 50 people attended the event, organized by ReachGlobal Crisis Response (formerly TouchGlobal) and the Hershey church.

The Jan. 12, 2010, quake killed 316,000 people; it was the eighth-worst natural disaster in recorded history. The desperately poor nation hoped that the world spotlight might begin a new chapter, one that would at last find solutions to material and spiritual poverty.

For a time, the people of Haiti thought the world’s outpouring of help following the 2010 earthquake was a sign that things finally might change here. But optimism has dimmed, to a point where a familiar sentiment is on people’s lips: “The world has forgotten about Haiti once again.” That was the assessment of Bruce McMartin, a teacher at the Séminaire de Théologie Evangélique de Port-au-Prince (STEP), which trains national church leaders.

Mark Lewis, ReachGlobal Crisis Response Director, elaborated.

“More of the ministry I observed was focused on fixing perceived problems – doing that versus coming alongside indigenously developed ministry plans or even focusing on long-term development for Gospel transformation,” he said. “Further, I gained the perception that so much of the ministry effort that was occurring was disjointed or uncoordinated in Haiti – in some cases, occurring in an unhealthy, disempowering, or even dependency approach.”

As he met Haitian leaders in recent months, he found that some had similar observations. Lewis began thinking about organizing the summit, “convening a conversation that would allow the leaders of the church in Haiti to share clearly and openly and honestly with the leaders of the North American church about the ministry North Americans do in Haiti,” he said. “It is hard for us to really listen and then be self-reflective and transparent enough to consider maybe changing our approach to ministry, not only in Haiti, but maybe even in our own community.  It would be a conversation that allowed us to hear from our Haitian brothers about the blind spots we have in our own version of North American Christianity.”

As a result of the Summit, a Haiti Consortium was formed to connect American churches and Haitian partners to work together and make a lasting difference in both countries and beyond.

“The vision for Haiti is to see an indigenous, disciple making, and multiplying church within walking distance of every Haitian, which demonstrates and engages in proclaiming the transforming power of the Gospel,” Lewis told the group.

Sessions addressed how to help others without hurting them, micro solutions to macro problems, and short-term missions opportunities in Haiti. One session looked at Global Fingerprints, ReachGlobal’s child sponsorship program. Global Fingerprints works through the local churches while helping families remain intact and helping children.

During the summit, Dorlus outlined the history of the Protestant church in Haiti to help understand the strengths, weaknesses and challenges faced today. Some strengths in the Haitian church today, he said, are prayer, evangelism and Bible knowledge. Weaknesses included discipleship, legalism, untrained leadership and missions. Challenges, he said, include a lack of vision and unity, limited human and financial resources, stewardship, theological understanding, pastoral ministry and church planting.

Jean Baptiste Wadestrant, aka "Wawa"
Jean Baptiste Wadestrant, aka “Wawa”

Another speaker from STEP, Jean Baptiste Wadestrant (known as Wawa), talked about voodoo’s influence on the Haitian church’s culture. The son of a voodoo priest, Wawa said many Haitians try to combine Christianity with voodoo instead of changing their worldview. That hinders hearing and understanding the Word of God.

That, he said, lies at the core of Haiti’s problems.

“NGOs cannot change Haiti,” he said. “The core is spiritual, and the solution must be spiritual.”

Lewis, on the other hand, talked about ways Americans’ worldview can be spiritually limiting as well. Most Haitians believe discipleship should focus on relationships, he said. They do life together with another person to teach and show them how to live. Americans, he added, are more likely to focus on programs, projects and acquiring knowledge. They like to have a list they can check off.

More conversations centered on a desire not to just fix old problems, but how to develop new patterns of transformation. Questions included:

  • What would a transformational ministry look like?
  •  Are we working empowered by the Holy Spirit?
  • How much are we investing in prayer?
  • And, simply, are the two cultures understanding each other?

“We need to study the culture before we try to engage there,” Wawa said.