In an effort to replace one of the buildings damaged in the aftershocks of the January 9 quake that rocked Haiti, members of the Kiowa County Ministerial Alliance are seeking dollars and volunteers to erect a structure for the hard-hit Lashbrook Family Ministries facility on the northern shore of the Caribbean island.
Like many, you’ve likely been asked recently by the convenience store clerk if you’d “like to round that (charge) up to the next dollar for Haitian relief”. What if you nod? What happens to that spare change you just committed to the dankest corner of the Caribbean? How much of it actually gets there, and what does it accomplish once it arrives?
Because such concerns are common, particularly in today’s economic climate, Greensburg Baptist Pastor Marvin George perked up recently when a member of his congregation came to him with a proposal George quickly agreed to pitch to the Kiowa County Ministerial Alliance (KCMA) January 21—a project KCMA unanimously agreed to take on.
A member of Greensburg’s Christian Church before the tornado, Ted Kyle had then become familiar with a Christian mission effort begun in Haiti a dozen years ago. Known as the Lashbrook Family Ministries (LFM), the work of the group has been centered on the northern Haitian coast, near the city of Port-de-Paix, about 90 miles northwest of the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
There at Port-de-Paix LFM has established a complex consisting of a boys’ home, girls’ home, orphan-adoption service, baby home, church and school. At this time 118 Haitian children are boarded and cared for there, around 70 of them in the K-12 school facilities, the rest being of infant to pre-school age. All told 300 Haitians receive two meals daily from the facility.
Though none of the facility’s five buildings were seriously damaged during the initial earthquake of January 9 aftershocks since have severely compromised the integrity of the buildings. Though missionary engineers have been called in to assess the possibility of repairs it’s apparent at least some of the structures will have to be razed.
Kyle told George he’d already been in contact with Strickland Construction—the builder responsible for erecting the Care ‘N Share store as the first new structure on Greensburg’s post-tornado Main Street—and found they could put up a 24 by 80-foot building with volunteer assembly at the LFM facility for $40,000. George told Kyle he’d put the project before the ministerial alliance at their meeting the next day—an idea quickly adopted by those clergy in attendance.
The CKMA also agreed to put up $5,000 of their own funds as seed money and plans to hold a public informational meeting soon to better inform members of the county as to what’s at stake.
“Christa’s (Zapfe, pastor of Lighthouse Worship Center in Greensburg) working on getting that together and I’d think we’ll hold in the next week or two,” George said. “We’ll probably have it at the high school gym and use some pictures of the LFM site to give people an idea of what they do and of the damage that needs to be addressed. We’ll also have some pictures of similar buildings Strickland has already put up in the Dominican Republic.”
George said the alliance likely won’t hold a fundraiser, counting instead on word of mouth and encouragement from local clergy to foster donations to the project. He said county residents can give a check made out to the alliance to their pastor or mail a check payable to the KCMA and mail it to the group at 205 S Main, Greensburg, KS 67054. Either way the donation is tax deductible.
As for why anyone should give to this undertaking when suspicions abound in connection to other relief efforts, George told The Signal, “It’s true not much will change in Haiti until the culture there changes and that’s what LFM is about. Here’s a country where 80 percent of the people are tied in to voodoo. (LFM) is working to bring up boys to be God-fearing adults, husbands and fathers. Young men who grew up there (at the LFM facility) are now spread out across Haiti and having an impact on the culture there.
“So this ministry is making a difference in the spiritual culture there and so will have a lasting effect. This isn’t a temporary, short-term fix.”
In addition to money George said volunteers are needed to make several trips to Haiti to construct the building. “We need the $40,000 raised first before we can get the building materials. We hope to have it by the end of February.”
George said several have already volunteered to make the trip and expects others to make the commitment soon.
“I’ve already had maybe half a dozen tell me they’re ready to go,” he said. “And we’d probably need a dozen or so to make two or three trips. If anyone is interested in volunteering they don’t need any special skills. They only need to be in good health. But first, of course, we have to get the other $35,000 raised.” God willing, neither volunteers nor funds will be in short supply in another 30 days.