The following piece was written by Mark Mahserjian-Smith, regional pastor for Communications and Mission with American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware (ABCOPAD).
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, killing an estimated 220,000 people and leaving over 1.5 million homeless. The media was quick to pick up the story, broadcasting images of the tragedy. As a result, aid from around the world was pledge to help this small, poor island nation recover and rebuild. Sadly, two years following the disaster, only a small percentage of pledged donations have been received and the United Nations reports about 20% of the necessary clean-up/rebuilding has taken place.
In January 2011, the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware (ABCOPAD) sent its first 14 member Mission Team to provide earthquake disaster relief and share Jesus love with the people of Haiti.
ABCOPAD, in partnership with International Ministries and Conscience International, began building Rubble Houses in the community of Grand Goave.
Grand Goave is about 7 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake; since the disaster, many families have been living in tents. Conscience International, under the direction of Jeremy Holloman, devised a way of building new safe homes using the debris from houses destroyed by the massive quake.
The ABCOPAD January 2011 mission team was the first team to complete one entire Rubble House in a single mission trip. Since that first trip, ABCOPAD has dispatched 3 additional teams to build rubble house and care for the people of Grand Goave. So far over 75 rubble houses have been constructed through Conscience International and voluntary teams.
Through local church donations along with funds collected by the Region’s AB Women and AB Men, ABCOPAD has received contributions to build many homes in grand Goave. A sixth mission team is scheduled to be in Haiti in October 2012 and two more teams will depart in January and February of 2013. ABCOPAD has been partnering with other American Baptists in New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Los Angeles in this exciting project.
There are times when God calls us to be an inch deep and a mile wide in our mission work. However, this ministry in Grand Goave, Haiti, appears to be one place God is calling us to be an inch wide and a mile deep. Relationships are being created with people in the community, which are in turn allowing mission team members to share the gospel and introduce people to Jesus.
For ABCOPAD, the people of Grand Goave have become neighbors.
Isaiah 58:12 (TMSG) 12You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.