By Carl Stagner
It was a disaster of unparalleled proportions. The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti caused the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands of citizens, the destruction of homes and businesses, and severe emotional wounds. Because of the massive volunteer turnout and the funds that Church of God Ministries and other organizations have sent to the area, the healing process for the church community and beyond has begun. While there is much left to do, much has already been accomplished by God’s grace and through the outstanding leadership of the Haiti disaster relief effort. Phil Murphy, Church of God Ministries’ field coordinator for the work projects in Haiti, has led with the heart of a servant for the past five months. Now Art Clawson, who alongside his wife was a missionary in Haiti for four years, will be stepping up to manage the relief effort.
Under Murphy’s oversight of the entire project, work teams have been established, homes constructed, and hurting people renewed with joy. Since the earthquake, at least $712,245 has been raised, approximately eighty homes have been constructed (forty additional homes have been purchased and are ready to be built), and twenty-two work teams have gone and returned. Two teams are currently serving in Haiti, nineteen teams are scheduled through April 2011, and six other teams are set to be launched. Ruben Schwieger, work team coordinator for Church of God Ministries, adds that even more “teams that have gone from Grand Cayman and Jamaica, and several from the U.S. and Canada, have assisted in relief efforts,” but are not included in the total count because they were not coordinated through the Disaster Relief Committee.
The impact of Church of God Ministries’ work in Haiti is evident in the smiles of those directly affected. Homeowners have joyfully participated in assisting in the rebuilding efforts. Most of them, according to Murphy, “refuse to move in unless we have prayed over the home.” The disaster relief effort has been a witness for Christ. “Nonbelievers and those who attend church on and off came around,” Murphy explains, “and our team members were able to engage them in conversations about the earthquake and their faith.”
The need for medical assistance dramatically increased after the earthquake. Before the disaster struck, there was only one prosthetic facility in Haiti, but it was rendered nonfunctional by the earthquake. Church of God Ministries presented Dr. Mark Fulton with a check for $50,000 to be used to complete the construction of a prosthetic clinic at a hospital in Haiti associated with the Church of God.
Don Smith, Eye on the World and Project Link specialist at Church of God Ministries, is happy to report that “the church has responded generously with great compassion.” He adds that the work teams have excelled in their assignments despite having to respond to the extraordinary needs under grueling conditions. “The church has been outstanding,” he concludes.
Shortly after the January 12 earthquake, Warner University allowed Murphy to leave his position as director of HEART, the Hunger Education and Resources Training Institute, which prepares missionaries for work in developing countries. From HEART, Murphy traveled to Haiti and put his whole heart into the relief efforts there. Art Clawson, vice president for advancement at Warner University since 2007, served as interim director of HEART during Phil’s stay in Haiti. Murphy will be returning to HEART, and Clawson will be touching the hearts of thousands of Haitians over the next year.
What will God do next through the Church of God disaster relief effort in Haiti? The possibilities are limitless, and you can play an important role. We ask that individuals and congregations prayerfully consider contributing funds to support disaster relief in Haiti. We apologize that we are currently unable to receive immediate donations online due to the recent Web site crash. Please mail checks to Church of God Ministries, PO Box 2420, Anderson, IN 46018-2420. Write Project 45.04502 in the memo line if you want your gift assigned to disaster relief. If you would like to purchase a home for a Haitian family, the total cost for construction is about $3,400. Simply write Project 45.04504 in the memo line and your donation will be assigned accordingly. Finally, if you are interested in learning about opportunities for work trips, contact Ruben Schwieger at 765-648-2207, or toll-free at 800-848-2464, ext. 2207, or by e-mail at RSchwieger@chog.org.
CGM maintains a limited Disaster Relief Fund in order to provide immediate response to disasters and crisis. Replenishment of the Disaster Relief Fund is necessary so that CGM can continue to respond to future disasters in an expeditious manner.