A total of over 1000 lives lost, as of today .. the numbers increase every day and will continue to do so for some time to come. The city where Martie and I lived, Jeremie, was virtually destroyed .. an estimated 80% to 90% of the homes. If the story sounds familiar, that is because not so long ago in 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed 90% of the homes in Waveland. But that is where the comparison fades. Pathfinder Mission was in Waveland for 5 years. Jeremie has a population of about 40,000 people over 6 times that of Waveland, in 2005.
Fortunately, many organizations have already focused on bringing relief to Jeremie. But, our ministry focus was and is west of Jeremie in the small villages along the coast and in the mountains. These people are very often forgotten but are no less important. As I was telling someone the other day, Pathfinder Mission must tend to the field that God has given us.
We have been anxious to hear news from the region. But, because of the devastation in Jeremie, we had no way to communicate with Pastor Francky, the lead pastor in the region we are serving. That is, not until he was able to find his way to Port au Prince. To get there first he had to have men help him carry his motorcycle over fallen trees for about 5 miles. Then he rode a motorcycle through the mountains to a city in the South, Les Cayes. From there he found a ride in a mini-van taxi to Port au Prince. The total trip took about 10 hours. Then he was able to charge his phone and call me. His story was grim, yet his family is safe.
Cement block construction in Haiti is not strong. Churches have collapsed, homes destroyed. His house lost the roof to the wind and one block wall to a fallen tree. Pastor Francky said there are 48 people in his house seeking shelter. His church, which is across the road, is totally demolished. I was able to wire money to him Saturday while he was in Port au Prince. He will be able to buy rice and beans in Jeremie when he returns on Tuesday. And he will be buying axes and machetes so the men he has waiting can clear the road of trees so supplies be driven inland.
There is no time to wait for the government to shift focus to his area, the Church must rise up, just as it did with Katrina.
Our Ministry In The Past
Hurricane Katrina : In 2005 we moved to southern Mississippi to assist the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. We partnered with the American Red Cross, Lutheran Disaster Relief, Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief, Montgomery First Baptist Church, and a number of churches in Mississippi, Alabama, California, Indiana, and Florida.
Jacmel Haiti : In 2011 we moved to Jacmel, Haiti in partnership with Children's Hope. Our initial purpose was to build an orphanage for Children's Hope next to the Jacmel airport. God had someting else in mind. We built a second orphanage, organized and directed 6 church schools in Jacmel, coordinated meals for the students through Helping Haiti, a ministry based in the U.S. For the first 2 years, we worked under the banner of Pathfinder Mission. For the last two years we served on staff with Children's Hope.
We partnered with Water Missions international to supply water treatment for the Orphanage and 4 of the schools. We partnered with Water for Life to drill wells at both orphanages and the school in La Vallee in the mountains. We partnered with Calvary Development Initiative to provide skilled Haitian labor for the orphanage construction. We partnered with Help for Haiti to provide meals for 900 students. And we partnered with a team of seminary students to conduct crusades and plant churches in the mountains.
Anse du Clerc Haiti : In the Fall of 2014 we moved to Jeremie, Haiti, 12 miles east of Anse du Clerc, to start a new ministry intiative for Children's Hope. Anse du Clerc is a very remote part of Haiti at the tip of the southwestern peninsula of Haiti. We built a base camp to support Children's Hope operations and began to build relationships with the pastors of the seven churches under the leadership of Pastor Francky Jeune. In late July 2015, having completed our mission there, we sensed that the season for our living in Haiti had come to an end and the Lord was returning us to the United States.
Our Ministry Today
From 5,000 feet, Haiti looks to be a tropical paradise. Particulary in southwestern Haiti where the vegetation has not been stripped away for charcoal production. The ocean water has variations of rich blues set against the green countryside. What you can't see from above the trees is the silent struggle of the people ... a struggle to survive.
Ministry Affiliation : Upon our return to the U.S., the season for serving with Children's Hope had come to a close and we reconstituted Pathfinder Mission. We will continue to collaborate with Children's Hope as we share many relationships with Haitian pastors, but our ministry focus will be complimentary not duplicative.
Ministry Approach : Our ministry is accomplished by Haitian Christians, through the local church. The ministry is funded, in whole or in part, by churches and other partners in the U.S. The Haitians ministering to Haitians receive training from small teams from the U.S. who come for the specific purpose of training ministers and church leaders for their ministry. The result being that the community focus is on the pastor and the local church and not the American churches. Pathfinder Mission is comitted to Helping Haitians Help Haitians and giving God the credit.
Homes For Haiti : Most Haitians living in the mountains and country live in hovels with torn tarps for a roof and one room for the entire family. The houses are subject to the elements as are its occupants. It is not that the people don't desire a better place to live, they will never have enough money to build it. So they endure.
Water For Haiti : I was asked if I could describe Haiti in one word. My answer was "water". Water is essential for life. Many Hatitian people, women and children, spend the better part of their day fetching water. Often walking miles to find water that is suitable for drinking and cooking. Most often the water they find is contaminated with at minimum coliform bacteria, but they don't know that. They just know that it is clear. Pathfinder Mission is seeking ways to bring sustainable solutions to the lack of potable water in rural villages.
Sanitation : When I met with the pastors in Anse du Clerc, I asked about the needs of the community. Water was certainly one of them, but the other was toilets. Seemed strange at the time. I had seen homes with out-houses, but in the country and mountains public sanitation is almost non-existent. Pathfinder Mission has committed to helping these rural communities build public toilets or out-houses. We are going to build a toilet for each house we build as well. Not only do the people need toilets, but they need to be taught about public health. There are four pandemics in Haiti, 1)cholera, 2)malaria, 3)TB, and 4)HIV Aids (heterosexual transmission).