By Linda C. Hoops
As estimates of the loss of life and destruction in Haiti emerged following Tuesday’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake, LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC) began responding, while members of LCMS congregations prayed for the safety of their mission teams who were in the Caribbean nation at the time of the quake.
“The unfolding drama in Haiti calls for unlimited mercy on the part of the people of the LCMS. The needs are urgent and overwhelming right now,” said Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, WR-HC director of disaster response. “I appeal to God’s people to respond as generously as possible during this most difficult time.”
Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital, Port-au-Prince, on Wednesday after the strongest earthquake to hit the nation in more than 200 years crushed thousands of structures, from schools and shacks to the National Palace and the U.N. peacekeeping headquarters. An untold number of people were still trapped.
Haitian President Rene Preval said the devastation was so complete that he estimated the death toll would run into the thousands. International Red Cross spokesman Paul Conneally said an estimated 3 million people may have been affected by the quake and that it would take a day or two for a clear picture of the damage to emerge.
Safe after the quake is a missionary family, Alyssa Stone and her two daughters, who live west of the capital where the shaking wasn’t as strong. Stone is a deaconess intern from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
Also reported as safe are at least three short-term mission teams in Haiti from LCMS congregations and mission organizations in Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, and Wisconsin.
Jason Christ, director of Christian education at First Trinity Church in Tonawanda, N.Y., was glad to receive text messages Tuesday evening from 14 members of the church’s mission team who had arrived in Haiti on Monday.
“They are all OK,” he told Reporter. He said the group, which includes Rev. Chuck Whited, are in Les Cayes, about 120 miles away from the hard-hit capital. This was the sixth time a team from the church had visited Haiti to work at an orphanage there.
News of the quake triggered numerous calls and e-mails to LCMS Life and Health Ministries Director Maggie Karner, who had been preparing to send the first LCMS WR-HC Mercy Medical Team (MMT) to Haiti in March. The day before the quake Karner had sent out an MMT recruitment appeal to LCMS pastors and congregations asking for physicians, pharmacists, and other medical professionals to volunteer for the team that is scheduled to serve in Haiti March 11-21.
“Our preliminary legwork for the first MMT team to Haiti in March will serve us well as we prepare to respond,” Karner said Tuesday night. “Perhaps now, because of this tragedy, people will see the desperate need in Haiti and prayerfully consider how they can use their gifts and talents.”
To learn more about the MMT trip to Haiti, contact LCMS WR-HC’s Jacob Fiene at 800-248-1930, ext. 1278, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, click here.
Linda C. Hoops is a freelance writer and a member of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Sunset Hills, Mo.
Posted Jan. 13, 2010