By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
NEW ORLEANS (LBM) – Escalating violence may have forced Louisiana Reach Haiti to halt most operations in the country, however, the ministry has found other ways to share the hope of Jesus in Haiti.
Ministry President Darrin Badon said he wishes LRH could have continued “business as usual” in Haiti, but he is grateful the Lord has allowed the ministry to move forward despite the many challenges. The ministry is a partnership between the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Haiti Baptist Convention, Louisiana Baptist churches and the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries.
“It’s been a faith builder,” Badon said. “We may not be able to send teams or have as many ministries happening there as in the past. But we do have kids in our Children’s Village and staff who depend on us to provide for them each month. The kids still need the Gospel, too, and the board members feel like we can’t fail them.
“We are still in the trenches,” he continued. “We are still restoring families and still are making a difference in the lives of them and the staff; and we need help to be able to continue to do that.”
In January 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless Louisiana Baptists were among the first to provide disaster relief, and for nearly a decade they have maintained a ministry presence through mission trips, sometimes multiple times each year.
After the earthquake response, some members of the Louisiana Baptist team felt led to create a permanent presence in Haiti and partnered with Pastor Odvald Louis and his members at New Evangelical Baptist Church in CroixDes-Bouquets. The Haitian congregation and Louisiana mission teams combined to complete a Children’s Village in Croix-des-Bouquets. They also teamed up to dig a well and built a church building, school and medical in neighboring Canaan.
However, the facilities in both cities were overtaken and vandalized by gangs in early 2022, Badon said.
LRH has now reorganized its efforts on multiple fronts:
— In February 2022, escalating gang violence forced the Children’s Village to relocate to the Florida House, a Florida Baptist Convention-owned home for missionaries in Port-au-Prince. The facility houses 21 children and six staff members.
— Meanwhile God opened doors in New Orleans, allowing LRH leaders to help relocate Odvald Louis and his family from Haiti, which he fled after surviving an attempted poisoning by gang members.
— Additionally, LRH began supporting Connect International Church, a congregation in New Orleans that in April 2022 formed and hosted an international church (led by a Haitian American graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) that reaches out to Haitians and other nationalities. In July 2022, LRH partnered with Fellowship Church, Prairieville, and worked with this newly formed congregation to conduct Vacation Bible School for 30 Haitian children. This year, they are hoping to hold another VBS and assist in other evangelistic efforts.
“It’s been neat to meet, see and serve alongside Haitian Americans and those who moved here to the US,” Badon said. “This is God’s way of telling is that while things aren’t what we hoped they would be in Haiti, He still is working through Haitians right here in Louisiana.”
To give or volunteer visit https://www.louisianareachhaiti.org/