Helping in Haiti

Sentinel Tribune
Written by By JENISE FOUTS Sentinel Staff Writer
Monday, 01 March 2010 09:22

sm_Haiti_storyMore than six weeks have passed since a catastrophic earthquake devastated southern Haiti. Unfortunately, while the world’s collective attention has moved on to other areas of crisis, the needs of the Haitian people remain overwhelming.

Two Wood County residents, Dave Warner of Bowling Green and Homer “Lee” Hill of Weston, recently returned from two weeks in Port-de-Paix, north of the earthquake’s epicenter in Port-au-Prince.

While Warner is a campus pastor and the executive director of Active Christians Today, a student ministry on East Wooster Street, he is also a former missionary to Haiti. Warner served for five years with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission located in Saint Louis du Nord. For the last 10 years he has taken students with ACT on two trips per summer to the island nation to help at the mission compound operated by Lashbrook Family Ministries.

Keith Lashbrook, who has cerebral malaria, contacted Warner through Facebook and asked if he could get to Port-de-Paix as soon as possible. He was working to get 41 orphans to the U.S. whose paperwork had been lost in the quake, and asked Warner to run the compound while he concentrated on getting new documents.

sm_Haiti_rotatorAnxious to get there, Warner was able to land one of two seats in a supply plane out of Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 22 which was traveling to Haiti since the capital’s airport was closed to commercial flights.

But before he left, “I got a call from an insurance agent saying there was a man in his office wanting to go to Haiti.” The man turned out to be Hill, whom Warner had never met.

The former missionary helped arrange for Hill to get a supply plane seat the day after him, and they met for the first time in Haiti.

Hill, a retired widower, wept while watching television reports documenting the devastation from the Jan. 12 earthquake. His heart was touched because he had been to Haiti 10 years earlier with Mission Possible out of Findlay, and he waited for God to open a door for his return to the country at this time.

Damage to the mission compound was worse than originally thought. Warner helped to demolish a second-story school located atop the church sanctuary which had developed cracks throughout the structure. The work was especially hard for him because he was tearing out the very blocks which his ACT students had used to help build the school on one of its mission trips.

Hill’s focus was prayer, preaching and photographing the work being done. His first job was to pray for Lashbrook “because he was in terrible shape.” He also traveled with Haitian Pastor Fontane Sainsurin, visiting hospitals, praying for people and doing a little preaching while the pastor interpreted.

“It was really an awesome privilege to pray for these people,” said Hill, citing amputees, burn victims and even a man with a broken back whose friends carried him 150 miles to Port-de-Paix. “That’s friendship.”

Warner said one of the major responsibilities was setting up a feeding program for refugees. The compound was expecting 100,000 people from the Port-au-Prince area.

“The refugee situation is going to be one of the most significant problems,” he explained. “Supplies are a problem because planes have stopped. There is one plane arriving per week vs. nine planes a day” right after the earthquake. … The situation is far, far from being over. They’re expecting 1,000s more deaths from malaria and tuberculosis.”

“It’s very discouraging now that Haiti is off the front page. The interest is being lost,” added Warner. “The help is lessening, and the need is just as great as it’s ever been. With the potential of malaria and TB outbreaks, it’s going to continue to be a horrific situation. There are 100,000s of people with no home. Help groups are inundated by 100,000s of refugees. Who’s going to take care of these refugees?”

Warner thanked the local community for its outpouring of finances and supplies immediately after the earthquake. ACT was able to send three truckloads of supplies to the mission’s Indiana warehouse for shipment, and any funds received were immediately wired to the mission compound.
But the help is now down to a trickle.

Both men plan to return to Haiti. Upon Lee’s trip in March his vision will be to teach people how to pray for each other there since the country is in a situation where “only God can help. God always works through people. … This is Haiti’s golden opportunity to get out of this mess. God is awesome. He uses ordinary people. Bare hands in a lot of cases.”

Warner will take ACT students and other volunteers to Port-de-Paix in May and July for mission trips. Any cash which he gets for the mission compound is still immediately wired there, and Warner continues to collect food, tents, hygiene items, medical supplies and tarps. He will personally deliver them to the Indiana warehouse to be shipped out.

Warner added classes in the Creole language, spoken in Haiti, will be taught in the ACT campus house to help people planning on going there. Hill said there are also Creole classes available on the Internet.

Hill has 90 children needing support to go to the school run by Pastor Fontane’s congregation. He said $10 a month will pay for a child’s schooling.
Hill’s number is (419) 669-2595. ACT’s campus house is (419) 352-6486. It is located at 612 E. Wooster St.