Rather than flying aid into the nation via the overwhelmed Port-au-Prince airport, residents from the Dominican Republic are driving supply-laden vehicles into Haiti, streamlining the process. After crossing the border, they are setting up medical …
Local congregation partners with Dominican Republic church to help HaitiansThe message to love your neighbor resonates with many in the Dominican Republic.As a next-door neighbor to Haiti, the country is well poised to help with ongoing relief efforts following last month's devastating earthquake.
Rather than flying aid into the nation via the overwhelmed Port-au-Prince airport, residents from the Dominican Republic are driving supply-laden vehicles into Haiti, streamlining the process. After crossing the border, they are setting up medical clinics, distributing food and assessing needs.
“They've taken it upon themselves to show compassion, the love of Christ, with people who are really suffering,” said Don Thomas, pastor of Trinity Bible Church.
The local church is assisting a sister congregation in the Dominican Republic with aid efforts.
For many years, Trinity Bible Church has been connected to Iglesia Bautista de la Gracia — Grace Life Baptist — in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Thomas said.
In a few weeks, two members of Trinity Bible Church will meet with the Dominican Republic congregation and travel to Haiti with a relief team. Patrick Feathers and Paul Thomas, both of Powell, will arrive in Haiti Feb. 15.
Though the team is mostly comprised of medical volunteers, Feathers and Paul Thomas, son of Pastor Thomas, likely will spend the week digging latrines.
Pastor Thomas said he heard a statistic that for every 2,000 people in Haiti, there's one portable toilet.
“Sanitation is a big issue,” he said.
Shortly after hearing about the earthquake in Haiti last month, Thomas was in contact with an elder from the church, Luis Arocha.
Arocha felt the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 12, 120 miles from the quake's epicenter.
“In our city, the earth shook pretty hard. Everyone ran out into the streets, and there was a lot of fear, but no damage,” Arocha said in a radio interview with Trinity Bible Church.
Arocha soon heard that the earthquake caused catastrophic damage in Haiti.
“As the news came in, more and more and more horrors came,” Arocha recalled.
Following the disaster, Arocha and the Grace Life Baptist congregation mobilized and began sending teams to Port-au-Prince within a few days of the earthquake.
“This is an opportunity for our beliefs to become actions,” Arocha said in a radio interview.
So far, Grace Life Baptist has sent two teams to Port-au-Prince, where they have set up medical clinics and have helped more than 500 patients. This week, Grace Life Baptist church leaders plan to take 1,200 food rations and 10,000 water bottles into Haiti.
Churches have become distribution points, but Thomas emphasized that the relief is for all Haitian residents, not just those who attend church.
Every Monday, Grace Life Baptist church plans to send 17-member teams into Haiti, Thomas said.
Feathers and Paul Thomas are the first to go from the Powell church, and more congregation members may go in the future. Their trips are subsidized through the church, but not from local donations for Haiti. Thomas said money donated to the Haiti relief effort will go directly to supplies and will not be used for trips to the country (see related story).
In a radio interview, Arocha called it a very complicated situation for relief, and said there will be a need for months and years to come.
“The horrors and the needs are so great that this is not just a one-week effort. This is going to take a long time,” Arocha said.
Hear audio commentary from a pastor helping with relief efforts in Haiti. http://tbcwyoming.com/
$30 donation covers cost for purchase, delivery
Churches around America are contributing to Haitian relief efforts through Grace Life Baptist Church in the Dominican Republic. Pastor Don Thomas and the Trinity Bible Church in Powell wanted to help with a specific need, as other American churches are helping with medical supplies and food.
“They have an immediate need for 1,000 tents,” Thomas said.
Thomas found a distributor who will sell and deliver tents to the Dominican Republic for $30 apiece. Tents will then be taken across the border to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Thousands of Haitians lack shelter, and the tents will be especially critical in March when monsoon season arrives.
To donate money for tents, contact Trinity Bible Church at 754-2660 or send mail to 517 N. Clark St. A “Haiti Relief Fund” also has been set up at First National Bank and Trust in Powell.
Thomas assured that 100 percent of donations will go directly to funding tents in Haiti.
“We can say with great confidence and certainty that 100 percent of every dollar goes to the relief effort,” Thomas said.