After the January 2010 earthquake that killed over 300,000 and destroyed countless homes, Alabama State Board of Missions (SBOM) responded quickly to the crisis. They adopted the city of Jacmel and began to send mission teams from various Baptist churches in Alabama. They began to build relationships with local pastors in Jacmel, especially with lead Pastor Paul Wilgeure.
In August of 2010, Children's Hope made their first visit to Jacmel, Haiti along with Mel Johnson (SBOM) and Brian Gay (FBC Minister of Missions). We were introduced by Mel Johnson and Pastor Paul (Haitian Baptist pastor) to a group of children living in a tent since the Jan. 2010 earthquake. They were being cared for by a young man named Samuel Lafalaise. We immediately felt God's call to begin working with these children and moved them into a rental house and enrolled them in school. CH continued to make visits to Jacmel over this past year to visit with the children and also to lay groundwork for purchasing land to construct a permanent home for the children. Some of the children were orphaned due to the earthquake, others were orphaned for various other reasons, and some just do not have family that can provide for their needs.
As we began to look for land, God orchestrated a meeting between Children's Hope and an organization in Canada called Manna Care. Manna Care had purchased land, cleared and fenced it, and brought in shipping containers to convert as housing for orphans. CH is in the process of purchasing the land from Manna Care and construction began on phase I in July of 2011.
In the meantime, God brought Martie and Charley Elgin into the picture. The Elgin's spent five years helping Hurricane Katrina victims in Waveland , MS before being called to Haiti. Once the Elgin's learned of CH and the need for a construction coordinator, they agreed this was where God was calling them. Charley is an expert at organizing and getting things done! He is taking up where Manna Care left off with the containers and converting them into a proper living environment for the children. For the first time, these 18 children will have access to indoor plumbing and running water with toilets and showers. Once the children are settled and the first phase has been complete, plans will start for the next phase. This includes permanent homes for about 10 to 12 children each with their own set of Haitian houseparents.
God continued to open doors for CH to work in Jacmel. Due to the number of Baptist churches in Alabama interested in sending missions teams to Jacmel, SBOM explored the possibility of renting a home to house the teams. In July 2011, the Alabama House was officially opened for their first mission team. During this same time, Joy and Tommy Schwindling (FBC members) sensed God's call to full time service in Jacmel. They sold their home, possessions and left stable jobs in order to move to the Alabama House in Jacmel. Their work includes hosting mission teams staying at the Alabama House and co-directing CH Orphanage.
What a team God has assembled in Jacmel: Joy and Tommy Schwindling, Martie and Charley Elgin, SBOM and CH! He has affirmed our work in Jacmel over and over and while there have been many challenges, God has proven over and over that is He is much bigger than any of them.
The truth of Ephesians 3:20 has certainly been experienced by CH's work in Jacmel: Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
For more information about Children's Hope, please visit childrens-hope.com