Diaspora

Local churches watch Haiti, wait for improved security to return – WYFF4 Greenville

Gang members kidnapped 17 foreign missionaries in Haiti
Gang members kidnapped 17 foreign missionaries in Haiti
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Gang members kidnapped 17 foreign missionaries in Haiti
Marking one week since gang members kidnapped 17 foreign missionaries in Haiti is difficult for Josh Smith. The Greenville native has taken five trips to serve on the island nation and was scheduled to return in two weeks.
“They are some of the toughest, most resilient people I’ve met in my life,” he shares. “Just the things they have to deal with daily, as far as challenges to make a living, dealing with a changing economy, the political situation. They’re just resilient. Unfortunately, it’s not safe for us to go now. The trip I was taking next February has also been canceled.”
Josh is a member of Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Taylors, which adopted a rural village called Cadenette several years ago. Teams from the church have returned to the mountainside hamlet multiple times, partnering with locals through Disciples’ Village, to erect a community center where villagers gather for church, school and medical care. Most recently, Brushy Creek members worked with the women of the village to build craft and business skills, while the men installed a water filtration system.
“To individually know people and travel the streets of places where it’s [violence] happening, it just grieves you,” the landscape business owner reveals. “And it motivates you to continue to stay in touch and support the people that you know and make sure you know how they’re doing.”
Josh is not alone. In addition to Brushy Creek, about a dozen churches with the Greenville Baptist Association have been traveling to serve in Haiti in recent years. Dozens more, outside the denomination and from across the U.S., have been going to volunteer with Disciples’ Village since 2010, when a 7.0 earthquake killed 300,000 and left entire communities homeless.
“It’s one of the toughest places to minister in,” reveals the G.B.A.’s Al Phillips. “But it’s close enough that churches can go quickly. It’s kind of cheap, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to go and spend a week to 10 days there on mission projects.”
Many projects involved building churches, supporting orphanages and introducing islanders to Jesus.
“You tend to think and plan more carefully when going during such a tumultuous time like this,” says Phillips. “But the truth is, that’s the time when you want to go because that’s when the needs are the greatest. As Christians, we’re called to share the Gospel and help. Although there are a lot of churches and Christians in Haiti, there is still a lot of need and people are broken and hurting.”
A hurt Josh hopes to help heal, as soon as he can.
“We are very blessed to live in the country we live in and have the privileges we have,” he says. “We have a responsibility to pay those forward and share those with other people that God loves, people created in his image, just like we are.”

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