By Jeff Brumley
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has gotten out of the disaster-response business in Haiti, but churches planning long- or short-term mission trips there needn’t be worried, a Fellowship official said today.
“Churches can still engage” in outreach with ministries in Haiti led by CBF or its many partners there, said Harry Rowland, the Fellowship’s missional church engagement specialist and leader of the North American Baptist Fellowship’s disaster-response network.
CBF concluded its disaster-response phase with a March 3 ceremony in the new Siloe Temple Baptist Church in Grand Goave, Haiti.
Following the 2010 Haitian earthquake, CBF jumped into relief mode through arrangements with the Baptist Convention of Haiti and other organizations. CBF agreed to a three-year commitment of money, field personnel and organizational resources in areas such as medical relief, clean water and sanitation development, education and orphanages and economic development.
In that time, some 1,200 individuals and about 350 churches – American and Canadian Baptists, CBF and others – cycled through to provide the muscle needed to rebuild homes and schools and to provide other ministries.
With that three-year deal now expired, Rowland said CBF’s focus will be on long-term projects like community health and vocational training, mainly through its remaining field personnel in Haiti.
According to a CBF account of the ceremony in Grand Goave, where much of its work was conducted since 2010, Rowland and other CBF personnel expressed amazement and gratitude at the town’s transformation.
Grand Goave was hit especially hard by the quake, with almost all of its buildings destroyed. Now its school and church have rebuilt, as have many new “rubble houses,” through a partnership with Conscience International.
CBF has had a presence in Haiti for 20 years, and that will continue now that the accute quake relief is completed, Rowland said. That means churches will still have plenty of ways to connect with ongoing ministries there.
“Part of the exit has included identifying those initiatives that are still transformative,” he said.