An Oklahoma church long involved in Haiti gathers help for earthquake victims to be distributed through churches in the capital.

by C. J. Vires

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (BNc) – Members of the Southwest church of Christ in Ada, Okla.,  have been involved in mission work in northern Haiti since the late 1970s and currently oversee the Cap Haitian Children’s Home (CHCH) and Haitian Widow’s Program.

We are thankful that both of these works did not experience any immediate damage from the earthquake. However, because of our experience in Haiti and the tremendous devastation, we feel that there is a need and responsibility for us to use our experiences in Haiti to help in coordinating a relief effort that provides targeted assistance to local congregations in the Port-au-Prince area.

Provided below is more specific information about our effort.

The need

The magnitude-7 earthquake that occurred in Haiti last Tuesday, Jan. 12, left in its wake complete devastation in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area. In Port-au-Prince alone there are at least 20 churches of Christ. These churches and their members have lost everything. There are immediate needs for food, clothing, water and medical care. After this period of healing, there will be a need to help rebuild so that the church can once again grow in the devastated area.

The response

The Southwest church in Ada, Okla., will coordinate an earthquake relief effort that focuses in three areas:

Heal: during the week of Jan. 17 a small fact-finding team will be traveling to Port-au-Prince. This team will be led by David Dirrim. David spent 11 years in Haiti as a missionary. This team will also include two doctors, Dr. Bruce Dennis and Dr. Tommy Paul, who will provide basic medical care. The primary purpose of this trip will be to establish contact with local churches, assess needs and develop a strategy for future efforts.

A second trip will likely focus on providing medical assistance and basic relief. We are working with the Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team to ship medical and relief supplies. Tentatively, we anticipate the supplies and a medical team being in Port-au-Prince sometime in the middle of February. During this time, there may also be some effort to assist our existing works in northern Haiti as needs arise linked to evacuees from Port-au-Prince, as well as increased food and fuel prices.

Rebuild: by March, we anticipate that our efforts will turn to rebuilding facilities with a focus on churches, schools and homes. The extent of these efforts will be driven by local needs and support from congregations and individuals in the United States.

Grow: there will be opportunities after this crisis to continue to work to grow God’s kingdom in the Port-au-Prince area. These opportunities will grow out of long-term relationships that have formed between the churches of Christ in the United States and the churches in Port-au-Prince.

Our commitment

One hundred percent of every dollar contributed to the earthquake relief effort will go to help heal, rebuild and grow the churches of Christ in the Port-au-Prince area.

Accountability and transparency.

The elders at the Southwest church will oversee this effort. A reporting of revenue and expenditures will be provided to all individuals and congregations supporting this effort.

Our team

The earthquake relief effort will be overseen by the elders at the Southwest church in Ada, Okla., and coordinated by a team of seven individuals. The coordinating team includes:

  • David and Sarah Dirrim have spent 11 years as a missionary team in Haiti serving at the Cap Haitian Children’s Home and the Center for Biblical Training in Cap Haitian for years. David is fluent in Haitian Creole and understands the Haitian culture.
  • Jack Frye serves as an elder at Southwest and has worked extensively with the efforts at CHCH. Jack currently works for Oklahoma State University as a Community Development Specialist.
  • Floyd Kaiser serves as the pulpit minister at Southwest and has worked several disasters as a disaster relief counselor for the American Red Cross.
  • Tommy Paul coordinates the Haitian Widows Program and works as a chiropractor. Tommy and his family are also in the process of adopting a young boy from CHCH.
  • Bruce Dennis serves as an elder at the Fittstown church of Christ and works as a physician in the Ada area. Bruce first traveled to Haiti in 2000 when he led the college group at Southwest on a mission trip. He and his family adopted a young boy, Ryan, in 2003, and he joined the Haitian Christian Foundation board in 2006.
  • C. J. Vires serves as a deacon at Southwest and works at East Central University where he is the Associate Vice President for Research and Advancement.

How individuals and congregations can help:

  • Cash donations may be forwarded to the Earthquake Relief Fund, Southwest church of Christ; 505 W 17th; Ada, OK 74820.
  • Spread the word about our effort. Pray for the people of Haiti, the relief efforts and our specific effort.
  • Contact us personally through C. J. Vires at 580-559-5486.