Mission changed: Local church’s trip to Haiti shaken up after quakePublished 11:04am Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
When Bela Bruckner first suggested to his pastor, Dan Miller of First Missionary Church, a mission trip to Haiti, it was planned to be an exploratory trip to determine the greatest needs for future mission work.
Those needs became incredibly evident on Jan. 12 when a massive magnitude-7.0 earthquake rocked the already impoverished country.
“We were going down to explore some missionary opportunities there, a local church ministry, school and orphanages,” Miller said. “After the earthquake, obviously the mission changed.”
A team of four from First Missionary church joined with teams from First Baptist Church in Niles and the Vineyard Church in South Bend to serve at the Tabernacle of Praise church in Cape Haitian, a city north of Port-au-Prince.
Bruckner, whose family has known Pastor Ecclesias Donatien from Tabernacle of Praise for more than 20 years, said he didn’t think twice about still going to Haiti after the earthquake.
“There is a great need there,” Bruckner said. “The need for food, shelter. The biggest need is universal. They need God in a big way.”
The team used money their churches had collected to feed hundreds of refugees from Port-au-Prince in the week-long mission trip that began on Feb. 1. Members of the team also spoke to thousands of Haitians who turned out for church services at the Tabernacle of Praise.
The most shocking thing for Bruckner and Miller was not the demolished buildings, the trash lining the streets or the thousands of displaced Haitians without food and water. The surprise was that those things did not take away their hope.
“To me it was so hopeful,” Bruckner said. “It’s a place of hope where the spirit of God is. There are between 7 and 10,000 people there on Wednesday and Sunday services. They start at 6 in the morning and don’t stop until 3 p.m.”
Several hundred live inside the church and hundreds more come to the church to get fed every day.
“People can come and be at peace,” Bruckner said.
The team was also shocked that the same relief trucks that were there when the team arrived at the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti were still there at the end their week-long mission.
“Getting the supplies to the people in need is huge,” Miller said. “The distribution network right now is really struggling. The infrastructure of the whole country has been shaken to the core.
Miller took his 15-year-old daughter on the trip and was glad he did.
“To see the refugees that were coming up into Cape Haitian, many who escaped with nothing but the clothes on their backs, it makes us realize how rich we are,” he said.
That realization has Miller and his church inspired to continue to help the country. The church is hoping to send another mission team to the country this year to help make repairs to a school in Cape Haitian and start a business venture that would teach Haitians to make charcoal from sugar cane.
Miller is concerned that after the cameras leave Haiti that many will forget about the great need there.
“The need in Haiti will be long standing,” Miller said. “In the days ahead, long after the eye of the world is off of Haiti, there will be need for years and years to come. The church has a wonderful opportunity in these days to serve in Jesus’ name.”
For more information on how you can help First Missionary Church in its aid to Haiti, visit the church’s website: www.nilesmc.org.