Volunteers from local churches OK in Haiti after quake

Volunteers from local churches OK in Haiti after quake »Play Video
Members of Beaverton Christian Church paint a building in Haiti. This photograph is from a past trip to the country. (Photo courtesy of Beaverton Christian Church)

BEAVERTON, Ore. -  Ten women from Beaverton Christian Church and nine volunteers from Salem Evangelical church working as missionaries in Haiti are safe after a major earthquake hit the country Tuesday, according to officials at the churches.

Pastor of Operations of Beaverton Christian Church, Dan Ferguson, said the women from his church are working with a mission called Lifeline Christian Mission to teach, hand out clothes and food, and to do general missionary work.

The ten women are in Grand Goave, west of Haiti’s capital Port-Au-Prince.
Mission organizers said in an e-mail the women were OK but the facility they were staying in was seriously damaged, and they will need to move to another building.

By e-mail church members said kids had just finished picking up gift packages when the earthquake hit and sent a concrete wall crashing down on the benches where the children had been sitting.

Pastor Scott Gassoway’s wife, Freedom, volunteered to go to Haiti just four days before the group left for the country on Thursday.

“I just didn’t know what the future was going to be, and I began thinking of all the other people in Haiti who have lost loved ones in this time,” he said. “Fortunately, now we know that they are OK, so it’s a big feeling of relief for us but not so much for the other people there.”

The church members are supposed to return to Portland on Saturday.

Gassoway said he believes the timing of their trip could not have been better because the need in Haiti is so great.

Another church group from Salem Evangelical church has nine volunteers north of the Haitian capital in the community of Cap-Haitien. Cindy Lenker left a phone message with the church’s pastor, Randy Butler, to say that they were all fine.

But Butler said he knows the earthquake may leave the group cut off from food and fuel offloaded at the capital, which will be an extra hardship in a country where hardship is already a way of life.

“We’re concerned for our own people, because they’re family, but we’re also concerned for the Haitians: They’re very dear to us too,” said Butler. “My outlook on life is simply to trust the Lord and to know that out of his love, he takes care of us when things don’t go the way we want.”

Meanwhile, 11 members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in The Dalles haven’t been heard from since the earthquake, said Rev. John Langfeld (ret.).

He said a group of men and women led by the Rev. Janet Fullmer’s husband went to Haiti to work on clean water projects and to try and reopen wells that failed.