By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
MONROE – With the completion of a wall and security tower in mid-February, the Louisiana Baptist Convention and Haiti Baptist Convention are much closer to fulfilling a five-year dream of having a facility to house children and train pastors.
Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries President Perry Hancock shared the news during the entity’s Feb. 24 board meeting, telling trustees that he is optimistic some of the dormitories for children will be ready by the end of the year.
“The need in Haiti is significant,” Hancock said. “But with great need comes great opportunity for God’s people to share the Gospel in word and deed. It has taken a few years to gain traction, but the project is now moving forward.”
The Louisiana Reach Haiti project is an effort sponsored by Hancock’s ministry, the LBC, HBC and 30 Louisiana Baptist churches.
Haiti was devastated by 2010 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Louisiana Baptists were among the first to provide disaster relief, and since then have maintained a ministry presence through mission trips that includes construction projects, pastor training, medical clinics, food, water and clothing distributions, evangelism, children’s Bible clubs and Vacation Bible School.
In the intervening years, a vision developed for a permanent presence in Haiti.
Louisiana Baptists acquired land in September, and soon after volunteers completed a 200-feet-deep well that provides water for residents of the community.
Wayne Sheppard, executive assistant to the executive director of Louisiana Baptists, said clean water sources are difficult to find in Haiti, so the well will be a way to minister to needs in the community and to share Christ.
“Having a way to provide this kind of water for the people of Haiti is going to be a major inroad to reaching some of them with the Gospel,” Sheppard told the Baptist Message after the meeting. “We will look forward to how the well, the orphanage and other parts of the facility are used in the years to come to reach many for Christ.”
The well will support a planned children’s village and pastor training center as well.
Sheppard explained that church planting will be a pivotal part of Louisiana Baptists work in the country, and the ministry center will be the base from which Louisiana Baptists partner with Haitian believers to reach all of Haiti by starting churches. Since 2012, teams from Louisiana have taken several mission trips annually to work on the center and plant seeds in outlying communities. CHFM sponsors two trips each year, which are planned for July 1-7 and Oct. 14-20 in 2017.
The hope is to build additional housing in the complex, followed with the development of micro businesses and trade schools, according to Sheppard.
As the project expands, there is a vision for constructing a hotel, operated by Haitians, and a school.
Ron and Alana Greenwich, retired missionaries currently residing in Minden, have been hired to take a major leadership role in this work. They will coordinate mission trips, build awareness among Louisiana Baptists, help with fundraising, and oversee the development of the children’s village.
“We are very excited because the critical factor was finalizing the land, which took quite some time,” Sheppard said. “Once that was finalized we have been going pretty rapidly. Now that the wall is complete, we are very pleased about the progress that should be made over the coming months.
“Every one of those children will hear the Gospel and they will be discipled and trained up,” he said. “But we also have as part of the vision starting a church in that community. The prospect of the Gospel advance there is unlimited.”
TRAIL LIFE USA
In addition to hearing an update on Haiti, trustees learned that CHFM is planning on starting a Trail Life USA troop exclusively for its residents.
Founded in 2013, Trail Life USA is a faith-based alternative to the Boy Scouts of America. The organization teaches biblically-based character, adventure and leadership skills to thousands of young men in troops throughout the U.S.
Unlike other troops, the one at the Children’s Home will have membership open just to its male residents. Hancock said while the majority of its activities will take place with fellow residents, he expects the troop to join others nearby for special events, campouts, and other adventure activities.
“I believe that Trail Life can make a significant impact on our young men,” Hancock said. “It will get them off-campus and allow them to be part of a positive group experience.”
COTTAGE PARENT, SOCIAL WORKER NEEDS
Hancock told trustees of several immediate staff needs for cottage parents and social workers.
Two full-time couples are needed to serve as cottage parents on the Monroe campus. Cottage parents provide direct supervision for children in residence.
Two graduate level social workers are also needed. Social workers meet with children on a regular basis, helping them resolve issues and set goals for the future.
For information on participating in a mission trip to Haiti, contact Sheppard at 800.622.6549, or email@example.com, Peggy Moffett at 318.343.2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Ron Greenwich. 318.453.5725, email@example.com or go to lbchorphansembrace.org. Donations to the work in Haiti should made through the Louisiana Baptist Foundation, Louisiana Reach Haiti, P.O. Box 311, Alexandria, LA 71309.