In response to the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti on January 12th of this year, the churches in Holyoke and Imperial collected a special contribution to aid the disaster relief. The funds were sent to the Estes Church of Christ in Henderson, Tennessee, a congregation that has had a long-term commitment to evangelism and benevolence in Haiti. Here is a summary of a report received from Jesse Robertson, one of the ministers of the Estes church.
Let me begin by saying thank you to all who have donated for earthquake relief in Haiti. The response has been astonishing. We never imagined that we would become the stewards of over two million dollars in emergency aid. You have demonstrated that the churches of Christ are a great brotherhood of generous, compassionate, and faithful souls. On behalf of the Estes congregation, the Christians in Haiti, Roberta Edwards, and her children, we humbly express profound appreciation to all of you.
Please be assured that we are making a strenuous effort to put these funds to good use as quickly as possible. Roberta, her children (the Sonlight Children’s Home), and the Santo church were the initial facilitators of the relief effort. Through their hands have passed 450,000 pounds of food, 12,000 tarps, 800 tents, and dozens of relief workers.
Roberta and children are doing well, despite the tremendous workload they have shouldered. In order to try to help their life return to some normalcy, we have shifted the responsibility for food distribution to other church members. We are now using a network of church leaders to distribute food each week through congregations in the Port-au-Prince area. Currently $32,000 worth of food is being distributed each month by these brethren.
Since the earthquake struck, church services have been overflowing. The Santo congregation alone has had 36 baptisms and neighboring congregations are reporting similar statistics. While it is probably true that some are coming because they hope to receive aid, it is also true that the nation as a whole has been confronted with the brevity of life and questions about God and the ultimate end of the world. One of our preachers has said that during this time of great need, the church of Christ in his neighborhood has been like “a tall steel pole” to which people have looked for help.
In addition to providing food, medicine, and temporary shelter we have also now begun to offer assistance in the rebuilding and repair of damages suffered to property such as church buildings and homes of Haitian Christians.
As we look ahead, we are struck by the fact that even if Haiti was suddenly back to normal, most of us would still consider it an emergency situation.
The Estes church has had a presence in Haiti for over ten years. When the quake occurred, we were in a position to respond immediately. We have people in place and we will continue to do our best to turn the good will of our brothers and sisters in Christ into good work for the glory of God, the spread of the gospel, and the salvation of souls.
God is at work in the hearts of men and women all over the world who are giving, who are going, and who are praying. God is at work in Haiti.
With great blessings come great responsibility, and we covet your prayers as the work continues.
—Tony Hysmith, for the Estes elders
- 8 million people live in Haiti
- 6 million live in abject poverty
- 4 million are under the age of 18
- Life expectancy: 52 years
- Poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere
- Over 200,000 dead from the earthquake
Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.
—Jesus, Matthew 25.34-36