God has a purpose in everything, including the worst natural disaster Haiti has ever known. A pastor and church planter of a dozen indigenous churches in Haiti finds himself disillusioned and in despair, seeking refuge and solace in the city of Cape Coral, Florida. He had just buried 34 members of his church in Port-au-Prince, including 11 orphans he cared for who perished in the church building and orphan school he directed. Even worse, he buried his father and founding pastor of the mother church in his hometown.
With his house destroyed, his wife severely injured, and half of the churches no longer with buildings to meet or house the orphans, Pastor Odanis Joseph came to Cape Coral with burdens and needs that could have driven him to throw in the towel. As he continued desperate in prayer, he began seeking a local church where he can counsel from God’s Word. That search led him to Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida.
For the next three months, Grace Baptist came to know and love Pastor Joseph and concluded that a vision trip was necessary to see the mission work in Haiti and determine how we can help. In September 2010, Pastor Joseph took Pastor Tim Brister on a tour throughout Haiti to see all the churches and orphanages under his direct oversight. From that initial trip, it was evident that God was forming a partnership between us.
The most pressing need at the time was providing a supply and delivery system of food for the orphans in the churches. Many of the children were so needy and malnourished that their ability to concentrate and learn was inhibited by starvation and uncontrollable hallucinations. Given that our church was the first and only church or organization outside of Haiti to discover this indigenous network of churches, we sensed the weight of stewardship and responsibility to care for these orphans in their distress and provide immediate relief (James 1:27).
In December 2010, Grace Baptist, under the direction of Pastor Joseph in Haiti, provided a food supply and delivery system for all the orphans in this network of churches for the following year. Having ministered in Haiti twice in 2011, we have come to see how this relief effort has directly affected the welfare of little children without a mother or father and left to the care of these churches. We firmly believe God has orchestrated all these events and opened doors, opened hearts, and opened pocketbooks of God’s people to give generously to see that no Haitian child under our care perish for lack of food.
As we look to transition from immediate disaster relief to long-term development in the communities where these churches are located, our hope is to equip and empower Haitian leaders to grow and develop their own food supply to decrease dependence and encourage self-sufficiency.