Christian takes relief mission trip to Haiti

Published 8:20 am Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Team sent seven members from various church to Haiti in July, including a Rutledge resident and three Greenville residents.

Fran Christian of Rutledge and the Rev. Tim Patton, Tim Skipper and Nathan Skipper of the First Baptist Church of Greenville shared their testimonies during a program at the Rutledge First Baptist Church on August 5.

“Port-au-Prince was indescribable, with trash in the streets and no sewer system,” Christian said. “Buildings were pancaked and rubble lined the streets. There is also no heavy machinery and the city has only one dump truck.”

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Christian also reported that most of the clean-up work is being done by hand, both by the residents of the island and by volunteers.

“The Haitians are hardworking and persistent, even though the work is slow,” Christian said. “Tents went on as far as the eye could see in every direction. It was heartbreaking to see how these people were living.”

Christian and the other volunteers became involved in Haiti relief through the local Baptist associational missionaries, like Crenshaw County’s Don Yancey.

Volunteers underwent disaster training at Shocco Springs, along with administrative training.

“Most of our disaster relief is done in the state,” said Christian, who served as the team’s chaplain. “Like when they had tornadoes in Enterprise and Prattville – we were called in for that. We’re actually called out for a lot of different things.”

While in Haiti, the team worked in an area about 75 miles south of Port-au-Prince named Jacmel, where they built 10-foot by 20-foot transitional shelters for families selected by the Salvation Army.

In those poor areas, the shelters were upgrades to the cement and rebar homes, which would crumble easily.

The team built five homes in three-and-a-half days.

“We found the people very gracious and appreciative of everything that was being done for them,” Christian said. “At each building site, people gathered, watched, tried to help, and thanks the volunteers over and over again.”

One of the sights that most impressed the team was when a young woman hoisted a 60-pound sack of concrete and carried it on her head down a rough trail to the building site.

“We were all in awe,” Christian said.

Haiti is seeing a constant flow of mission groups coming in, including the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, Global volunteer organizations, UN security forces and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams and more.

During the mission, the team was able to visit three Baptist churches in the area and even a revival service.

“The Haitians’ faith is strong,” Christian said. “At each church, we saw the joy in the faces of the people and the dedication of the worshippers to be in church, even though they had all walked miles to attend.”

“These visits allowed us to see that Christ is alive and working in Haiti,” Christian added.

The presentation in Rutledge ended in prayer, especially for the Haitian people.