WORKING WITH GOD'S PROJECTS
THE EMMANUEL TV HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF TEAM
OVER 230,000 dead, 300,000 injured, 280,000 buildings collapsed, 1,000,000 homeless and 3,000,000 affected. The stats are staggering. On Tuesday 12th January 2010 at approximately 16:53, parts of the Caribbean island of Haiti literally crumbled to pieces at the mercy of the 6th most fatal earthquake of all time. With irrecoverable damage done to communication systems, major transport facilities, electrical networks and hospitals, bodies of the dead strewn on the streets and thousands more trapped inside collapsed buildings, it was a scene of utter chaos and confusion.
Deemed the worst earthquake of the modern era, compounding already existing problems in the poverty-stricken isle of Haiti, the world watched in horror as images of destruction and devastation filtered through to international media. Thus began one of the largest aid relief operations in recent history, with humanity uniting together for the common purpose of assisting the homeless and helpless in Haiti.
Here is the story of one such relief mission which began in the humble office of a pastor who watched the distressing images of the Haitian suffering and could not afford to look the other way, whose passion and vision to help the Haitians overwhelmed the seemingly insurmountable odds. And as T.B. Joshua watched, The Emmanuel TV Haiti Earthquake Relief Team was born - a mission to bring hope to the orphans, relief to the sick and comfort to the suffering in the faraway nation of Haiti.
The task seemed impossible on the outside, but an instruction in righteousness from T.B. Joshua had come, and thus the divine provision, protection and enablement to achieve it. Merely two days after the earthquake struck, SCOAN Evangelists in both America and the United Kingdom were preparing themselves for a journey into the unknown. “It was clearly a God-directed mission, a God directed venture,” recalled Nick Holmes, a member of SCOAN UK and part of the initial relief team. “This was 48 hours after the event when the world was still reeling.” Consistent with its name, 'Church Of All Nations', the preliminary team consisted of people spanning three continents and with a broad range of skills and expertise – doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots, humanitarian workers and evangelists inclusive.
Merely a week later, planes were boarded and the team touched down in Cap Hatien, one of the few airports unaffected by the quake, located in the north of Haiti. A cargo plane, chartered from Florida and boldly emblazoned with the emblem of Emmanuel TV, arrived shortly afterwards and unloaded essential medical supplies and foodstuffs with the assistance of the United Nations. Carrying only a rucksack of personal necessities and a resolve to meet needs and solve problems, the team had arrived and the vision was nearing reality. Whereas most aid organizations had set up base in Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital and scene of most carnage at the time of the quake, the ETV team decided to choose a location slightly away from the capital. Upon the advice of a local charity, Konpay, they chose Arcahaie, a small rural town of roughly 100,000 inhabitants 40km north-west of Port-au-Prince, a place many earthquake victims had run to for shelter. It was a ten hour journey along bumpy roads and over steep mountain paths with a jeep and two large trucks carrying the life-saving supplies and equipment.
For every member of the team, this was the first time they had ever entered a disaster zone of such magnitude. It was a journey of faith where obstacles did not dictate the direction. “We were told that we have no experience and that we should not go - but we went anyway,” declared Cara Lauchland, a SCOAN evangelist from the USA. “We were told that no flights are going in to Port-au-Prince so we flew in to Cap Haitien in the north. We were told that the roads were too damaged to drive on; we drove all the way without any problem down to Arcahaie.” They arrived on January 26th2010.
Arcahaie: A Shocking Reality
Although Arcahaie was not as close to the quake's epicenter and not as affected as the nation's capital, the disaster had nonetheless taken its deadly toll on the primitive town, both physically and mentally. “The people were absolutely petrified after the quake,” explained Rachel Holmes, a SCOAN Evangelist from the United Kingdom and also part of the first team. “They thought that the end of the world had come. We met many with psychological problems. They kept thinking that the ground was always moving. And the government issued a warning that no one should sleep inside their house, so everyone was sleeping on the road or in their yard under sheeting or rough plastic. People were frightened to be inside.”
With plantain farming and fishing providing the main source of income for the people of Arcahaie and a staple diet of bananas, the community was already in abject poverty before the quake hit. “There is no central water supply, limited electricity and no sewage,” Rachel continued. “Most people drink water from dirty wells, from the gutter by the road, or water which collects on the roof of their house. Most of them have never had simple advice such as the need to boil the water before drinking it. Due to this many are very sick, especially the children.”
The privilege of free health care that many enjoy is merely an illusion for the majority of Haitians. Speaking of the team's initial surveillance of the area soon to become their new abode, Rachel added: “When walking around town, we came to notice that the children would play with no pants on and sit in the gutters - so they got infections, even tiny babies. This was a big problem - no hygiene at all, no awareness of dirt bringing germs and sickness. There has been no community health care. They just lived or died with their complaints. Getting to hospital was impossible for most people because it was so far and they couldn't pay. Plus there was no transport. The need is very dire.”
With the help of community leaders, a plot of land in the outskirts of the town and a nearby well was located. Physical eyes beheld an abandoned piece of land with some uncompleted buildings, but faith saw a thriving medical clinic providing primary health care for an entire community. With the sea as their shower, a hole as their toilet and banana leaves as their mattress, tents were pitched on the stony ground and Clinique Emmanuel was born. Almost immediately following their arrival, people found out and crowds of sick and suffering began swarming to the area. Both injuries inflicted during the earthquake and longstanding illnesses that before had no source of treatment were brought and the clinic began its work. As Fiona Tonge, a SCOAN Evangelist from England with nursing experience put it, “Out of a heart of compassion and an instruction in righteousness, things which seemed impossible became possible. From nothing, from an idea, a concept – came people, medical and food supplies, a plane, vehicles to navigate the mountain roads and a piece of land to pitch our tents.”
Working almost non-stop in the sweltering heat from dawn until dusk, with the doctors and nurses attending up to 80 people on a daily basis, the team worked selflessly to meet the needs of the Haitian people. Local support for the mission thrived and people willingly volunteered to serve as translators, the main language of the locals being Haitian Creole. A number of native nurses also joined the mission and volunteered their services. God's provision and direction was evident right from the onset. “Grace just abounded”, said Nick when recalling the beginnings of the clinic. “I saw practically that where God directs, He provides. There are countless little stories of almost impossible situations where God took control.”
Life Amidst Death
With the project still in its earliest stages, one story stands out as a testament to Clinique Emmanuel's vision and mission. A mother was rushed to the camp, already in labour and extreme pain. “She came when we were not properly set up,” Rachel remembers. “We had no beds set up, so she delivered on the concrete. It was very touching because she was so grateful to have medical staff there and to be able to say she had given birth in a 'safe' environment - an environment which to us needed to be seriously worked on! Once the baby was born, she told the translator that she would call her Emmanuella after Clinique Emmanuel.” A testimony to the new life Clinique Emmanuel was breathing into a community distraught with death and despair, Baby Emmanuella was the first of countless babies to be born safely in the clinic in the coming months.�
T.B. Joshua's Passionate Appeal
With Clinique Emmanuel firmly established, T.B. Joshua made a passionate appeal to the viewers of Emmanuel TV to support God's project in Haiti. “As regards what is happening in Haiti, we cannot pretend not to see,” he admonished. “We are one another's strength. Remember Christ says, all our doings without love are nothing. A true Christian is known by his love. Ultimately, we are called to respond to all human needs for that is what love entails.
“The people of Haiti need you at this time. They are homeless, like sheep without a shepherd. God has no hands but only our hands to reach them. Love the children of Haiti for God's sake and you will be loved. Give to the people of Haiti for God's sake and you will receive the mercy and favour of God. Looking the other way when your neighbour in Haiti is in trouble is tantamount to rejecting Christ himself. Whatever is in your hand now is a solution to the people of Haiti. Remember, whatever you do to the people of Haiti, that you do unto God. Therefore, help the people of Haiti. Help the children of Haiti; they are the future of Haiti.”
The response was truly overwhelming, as viewers worldwide called to pledge support for the project in Haiti. This was God's project, and He was providing for every need. “It was an example of the church feeling other people's pain,” added Nick. “That was clearly the driver. I think you could say this is really an example of faith working through love.”
Evidence of God's miraculous power and provision were seen recurrently, mirrored in the story of an incredible birth at Clinique Emmanuel. “His mother came in the early evening in the 2nd stage of labour,” Rachel explained. “This was her second child - her first had been stillborn. Around 11pm the baby was born - he was stillborn. The black baby was blue and totally lifeless. It was a boy. The mother was just staring at us and the doctor was holding the baby upside down trying to see if there was any mucus in the lungs - no response. Then mouth to mouth was applied. The baby would not come around - he was gone. We rushed to get the Anointing Water and we sprayed it on the little boy. Slowly but surely he began to turn pink and started breathing. Eventually he cried and his mother just stared at us! He came back the next day very happy and healthy. It was an absolute miracle.” In honour of the man who actually inspired Clinique Emmanuel, the miracle baby was named 'Joshua.'
Such example echoed that of hundreds whose lives were saved through the intervention of Clinique Emmanuel. “Literally, everyday there were situations where lives were saved, and that made any personal inconvenience seem so trivial,” explained Gary Tonge, another member of the first Haiti team and a SCOAN Evangelist. “We are actually making a difference,” Daniel Koots, an Australian, passionately told Read Us. “The people we meet, the people we give tents to and the people treated in the clinic – their lives have changed. Clinique Emmanuel is actually saving lives.”
“Wounds have been dressed, sicknesses have been treated, babies have been born, water has been purified, tents have been installed, children have been sponsored to school, empty stomachs have been filled, and many individuals have chosen to make God's Word the standard for their lives,” wrote Angela Brandt, a SCOAN Evangelist from America. “Each morning brings new challenges, new problems, new difficulties – but each evening sees new plans, new projects and new solutions. Jesus is the solution.”
Weeks turned to months and Clinique Emmanuel forged ahead, driven by the unprecedented need around and the realisation that each gift and strength God had given were meant to meet such needs. This was a long-term commitment. Different international doctors and nurses who had taken up the call to assist came and left, with a rotational system in operation. The clinic was having such an impact on the community that the local mayor decided to give the land they had established to Emmanuel TV free of charge, in response to their relentless efforts to aid the community.
Jean Elie, a local carpenter voiced the opinion of the people in a community meeting held to discuss Emmanuel TV's future in Haiti. “I believe that Emmanuel TV is the biggest blessing God could send to us. The earthquake did a lot of damage to us, but the biggest support it sent to us is Emmanuel TV. It's the biggest gift given to us. It's a privilege to have Emmanuel TV. If not, many people in Arcahaie would not have survived. Emmanuel TV, we love you very much because you love us very much. We are ready to do all we can to make you stay with us. You don't know how your help is benefitting the people of Arcahaie. We are not able to give you back. God alone can reward you.”
Speaking on Clinique Emmanuel's remarkable impact, Elvis Buquo, a Greek assistant nurse who was in Haiti for five weeks, said, “Clinique Emmanuel is an oasis in the desert. It is there so that people would not lose hope. It is for the people to calm their pain, regain their strength and to start rebuilding their life on a better foundation – with God Almighty.”
Another pivotal moment in the journey of Clinique Emmanuel, epitomising the impact it has had so far on the Haitian nation, was the visit of Haiti's President Rene Preval on May 17th. He came to thank Emmanuel TV for their selfless efforts and pledge his support to the clinic's future.
Supporting Other Organisations
Bound by a common bond to help the Haitians, Emmanuel TV also worked with other organizations to spread practical and medical support to the orphans and homeless of Haiti. With a number of make-shift camps springing up sporadically around the affected-areas, many were sleeping out in the open or under improvised coverings, like bed sheets held up with sticks, and urgently needed shelter, especially in view of the impending rainy season.
The Emmanuel TV Haiti Earthquake Relief Team worked with aid organizations such as 'Shelter Box' and OIM, visiting different orphanages and refugee camps around Haiti providing aid, large tents and medical care as well as educational supplies for the children. Another organisation they have lent their support to is 'Love A Child Earthquake Relief Centre' in Fond Parisien, Haiti to which many earthquake victims have been transferred from Port-au-Prince to receive follow-up treatment.
Recalling a particular occasion when supplying tents to a Haitian community which remains imprinted in her heart and mind, Rachel said: “One such moment, which will not leave me, was when we drove onto a piece of wasteland covered with sticks and pieces of plastic sheeting blowing about in the breeze. These were what people called home. A desperate attempt at forming some kind of shelter from the rubbish left behind after the earthquake. There were children everywhere. Children left with no parents. Children just left. They crowded around us as if we had the whole world in our hands and could solve every problem under the sun. Fathers cried out that they had no mothers for their children. Mothers pleaded that they had no husbands to take care of their families. A small child tugged at my trousers and asked me a question. My translator looked at me and said, “She asked if you would be her mummy, can she please, please come home with you?” All I could offer them was the tents stacked up in the back of our vehicles. It seemed so little in comparison to their needs”
These experiences remain in the hearts of the team. Australian lawyer Naomi Karp recalling another sober incident, said: “The earthquake while tragic seemed so remote from my lounge room in Sydney, Australia – but when I arrived, I discovered people so desperately in need of assistance and so grateful to receive it,” she began. “What stood out for me is an orphanage where we ministered much needed shelter, medical and educational help. I was really touched by a 3 year old boy who was sick with an infection, dressed in just a t-shirt who could no longer walk and had lost his family in the earthquake. What a blessing to see him transformed after receiving this help, laughing and playing football with the other children.”
Selflessness Amidst Suffering
In the midst of their extreme need, the selflessness and community spirit was also evident amongst the Haitians, who were pulling together at their time of greatest lack to build each other up. “I was touched by the way men in a camp for refugees form Port-au-Prince vigorously helped us pitch tents for the aged, infirm and little children, knowing they would still not be sheltered themselves, ” noted Peter Karp, an Australian lawyer also part of the relief team.
Janet Holmes, a member of SCOAN UK who went to Haiti in February 2010 for three weeks, remembered another experience that made a lasting impression on her: “On one day, one encounter in particular, touched me deeply. We went to visit a local pastor, who, despite having very little by way of material provision himself, has taken as his own family twenty young children orphaned by the earthquake. Like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, he may not be in the best position to help, but the little he has he is willing to give and share with those in need – and what these children most need is the love and security of a family. Their smiling faces and cheerful laughter remain with me. By the grace of God and through the generosity of Emmanuel TV Partners and viewers, we were able to erect several tents for the children to sleep in and to supply them with some rice and medical supplies.”
Let It Rain
Another example of God's clear intervention and direction in the running of Clinique Emmanuel was the divine rainfall that occurred following the prayers of Prophet T.B. Joshua. “The weather had become extreme and team members were beginning to get rashes because of the heat,” explained Angela. “People in the town were getting sick and there was need for rain. So, I called the prophet and told him and he said he would pray, that there would be rain. I told all the workers that the prophet had said there would be rain and he would pray. Within a few hours rain poured down in the town! When they called Port-au-Prince and asked if they had had any rain there - there was none! The rain was only in our town. All the workers were amazed!”
What The Future Holds…
Clinique Emmanuel is committed to rebuilding the Haitian society, and ensuring their children have the opportunity they need to grow to their fullest potential. However, they cannot do it alone. Whether through financial support, the provision of medical supplies or volunteering your skills and strengths to go out to Haiti, they need you. You too can be part of this life-saving venture. You too can make a difference. You too can be the hands and feet of Jesus.
“What difference have you made today?” asks Peter Renner. “I will not kid you, the road to self sufficiency in Haiti will not be an easy one, neither will it be done overnight; the stench of death is so real in Haiti. Clinique Emmanuel is doing wonders. But deep within their hearts, the Haitians fear we are going to abandon them, like it has been in the past. Are we committed enough? I ask: Are you in the medical profession? Are you an engineer? Can you cook? Are you a dentist? Can you drive or can you teach? Everyone has a place in Haiti.”
To support the Emmanuel TV Haiti Earthquake Relief Team, visit our website www.emmanuel.tv
SOURCE: Read Us Edition 3