By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
CAMDEN, Del.—Maryland/Delaware Haitian churches are grieving. Members mourn lost and injured loved ones, or live in fear because they haven’t been able to make contact with their families. Haitian churches have become havens for members and other Haitians not affiliated with the church, needing places to go to share their grief.
“There are no words. It’s hard for them to even talk about,” Guy Danjoint, pastor of First Pilgrim Haitian Church, Camden, said. “We love them, counsel them and encourage them,” Danjoint said.
Danjoint grew up in Les Cayes in the southern part of Haiti. He has four brothers. They survived, but their homes were destroyed.
Others in First Pilgrim Church had family members who died. One church member lost 13 people from his family.
Danjoint has been trying to raise money to help the victims. He has been working with other Haitian churches to take up collections. They’re sending the funds to Cody Whitaker at Global Outreach International. Whitaker used to be on staff with the Delaware Association and left last year. Whitaker and his wife, Maria, took a mission trip to Haiti last year and were overwhelmed with compassion for the orphans and street children.They felt God was calling them to move to Haiti and work with these children. They now reside in Jacmel, Haiti – about 20 miles southwest of Port au Prince.
In addition to collecting offerings from the church, Danjoint is working with several different radio stations and shopping centers, in conjunction with the Red Cross, to gather donations for Haiti. He’s also working with local schools to collect clothing and other supplies for the Haitian Relief Fund.
Faith Haitian Church, Dover, has planted several churches in Haiti. The largest, in Port au Prince, has 600 members. That church building is cracked and the members lost their homes due to the earthquake. Louisaint Joachim, pastor of First Haitian, said those people are now huddled under tents at a Haitian airport.
“Most of them are waiting for hope,” he said. “They really need prayer. And they need tents, food and water,” Joachim said.
He said that now there’s no way to get anything from anybody. People are dying because they don’t have food. There have been some air drops of rice and water, but they’re not reaching the people.
Joachim has been in the United States for ten years. His family survived the earthquake but lost their home and had to move to another city. His sister had some debris fall on her legs, but there is no permanent damage.
Several members of Faith Haitian had family members who died in the earthquake. One man lost eight family members, including an eight-year-old son.
Joachim told of another member who lost a brother when the boy’s school collapsed. The school had three floors, with 250 people on each story. “It collapsed, all three stories, like a pancake. They all died,” Joachim said,
The church is praying and sending money.
“Whatever little money we collect, we send it,” Joachim said. What he really wants to do is go, take supplies and help the people.