Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

Haiti Update

The following letter was sent to me from Gary Hale, missionary in the Dominican Republic with Daystar Baptist Missions.  Our church raised ~$10,000 to help them with their ministry reaching out to Haiti.  You can read more about their ministry at their website:

Initial Report
Feb. 4, 2010

Last night I returned from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti after spending five
nights in the city. I was accompanied by two men from our church (IBEM) and
ministry in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Marco Uribe and Chad
Justice. We collaborated with missionaries from various Baptist mission
agencies, including BIMI, Global Faith and BBF. Our staging ground was a
Baptist church in Port-Au-Prince which had storage facilities and room for
us to camp, organize supplies, and meet national pastors.

We had two primary objectives for going: help with immediate relief
through the local churches and survey the damages to church structures.
Below is an initial report.

First objective:
Our Dominican churches had collected supplies and given special love
offerings to help in Haitian relief. As a result, we were able to
distribute food, water, and clothing to 14 national churches by giving the
supplies directly to their national pastors for distribution. These pastors
were known and trusted from their long-term association with both Wes Lane,
BBF missionary, and the local pastor/missionary at the church where we were
staying. Many of the national pastors had been sent out from that church.

For our part, IBEM brought 1000 water bottles, clothes, and medical
supplies. Other missionaries and churches brought other supplies.
Once in Port-Au-Prince we were also able to get some food supplies from
the bigger aid agencies at the airport which had palates of food sitting

A warehouse has been rented in Port-Au-Prince for the continued short-term
storage, organization and distribution of food and supplies.

Second objective:
We were able to do on-site surveys of several local churches. Though some
of the bigger structures will require engineering expertise, most of the
churches we visited were simple structures which we were able to assess.
There was a full range of damage from total destruction to slight cracking
in walls.

More than 20 churches and pastors’ homes have been surveyed. A fuller,
compiled report is being prepared which will help us collectively
prioritize the churches in the most need.

Personal ministry:
I was invited to preach Sunday night to the Baptist church where we were
staying. About 150-200 people seemed to be in attendance. It was a blessing
to be able to see the faithfulness of the people and to encourage them from
Ephesians 1 of the things that an earthquake cannot take from them. Their
worship of God through their singing, testimonies, their giving in offering
the little they had, and attentive listening to the Word was a great
blessing to all of us.

Future follow-up:
Once the full report is finished, churches and missionaries will be able
to begin to select churches in which to help rebuild. For IBEM and Daystar
Baptist Mission’s part, more than $17,000 has already been raised for this
effort with more money being sent in. With an understanding of the context
and the local network of pastors and missionaries, we will be able to
administrate the funds in order to ensure that we maximize the money given.
Getting these churches back into their buildings is a critical priority.

There is a clean and secure place where incoming relief, medical, and
construction groups could stay. Ideally, the construction groups would be
small, allowing for the employment of locals to help. Oversight is needed
from the standpoint of ensuring that these buildings are built better; most
of these church buildings were built with serious defects in materials and
practices – e.g. a common, cheap white sand which does not bond used in
mortar, rebar not anchored far enough inside of columns, rebar too thin and
not gridded in floors/ceilings, ceilings too heavy for the support columns,

General Notes:

•       Our relief efforts and strategy have been based on the conviction that
local churches in the States should cooperate with local churches in the
Dominican Republic in order to help the local churches in Haiti – this is
the body of Christ interconnected. By working through known local pastors
and churches we are able to effectively administrate money and supplies
from the ground up.

•       There is a logistical nightmare, as far as food distribution, at the
airport in Port-Au-Prince. While we were initially able to get some donated
food in order to distribute, this door is rapidly closing. An unbelievable
amount of food sit packaged on the side of the runway. Tents are full with
food. However, the UN and other bigger organizations are very slow in
distributing. Often, when approaching these agencies, one finds different
directors from day to day. Most of these agencies have no idea of how to
distribute within the local context. What is distributed is often to the
same people in the same locations. Bureaucracy is a growing problem.
Missionaries and organizations who know the local context are often
stonewalled in their attempts to help distribute inside the damaged
neighborhoods of Port-Au-Prince.

•       Groups are coming into Port-Au-Prince to help with little understanding
of the local context. Many groups are merely going out to tent cities and
distributing. In many cases, the same people are receiving food and help
because of their proximity to roadways.

•       Local churches are in a serious state. If their structures are still
standing, most congregations are not meeting inside of them. This is
because the people fear collapse. In many cases the churches have no patio
area in order to meet, thus essentially eliminating any common place for
worship. This has resulted in abbreviated services or even closed churches
since the earthquake.

•       As has been reported, damage to Port-Au-Prince itself is catastrophic.
Tent cities with thousands of people are found in open patches of land.
Thousands of other families live under tarps beside their destroyed homes,
afraid to move away for fear of looting. Thankfully, rains have held off.
However, when the rains come there is going to be a major crisis with
dysentery, typhoid, etc.

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