Haiti Update, January 19, 2010 - From Dr. John Sullivan
Subject: The Miracle of Multiplication
The Biblical miracle of the fishes and loaves had a modern day twist for the Florida Baptist Convention when it made an initial purchase of 21 tons of rice for use in Haiti relief efforts. An Arkansas Baptist church's matching gift of rice has multiplied the initial commitment into a total 84 tons of rice being earmarked for Haiti.
This miracle of multiplication started on Friday, January 15, when Executive Director John Sullivan negotiated to purchase 42,000 pounds of rice from a grain distributor in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Sullivan negotiated for a low price of $20 per hundred pound bag. With the deal confirmed, the Convention arranged to send one of its disaster relief semi-trailer units to Stuttgart to take delivery of the rice. On Monday, January 18, a second order was placed for another 21 tons of rice for delivery at the end of February.
On Tuesday, January 19, Sullivan received a call from Pastor Sam Roberts of the First Baptist Church, Stuttgart, Arkansas, who had learned of the Convention's purchase and planned use of the rice. He told of the church's mission committee authorization to purchase 42 tons of rice to supplement the Convention's commitment to feed Haitians. The combined purchase and donation brings the total commitment to 84 tons or 168,000 pounds of rice which will be distributed in Haiti as soon as possible.
Sullivan noted that the average Haitian subsists on a quarter cup of rice each day. He went on to observe that every Baptist can be a part of the Haiti relief effort by sending $20 to buy a one hundred pound bag of rice. "That one bag of rice will feed a family of four for a long time in Haiti," he explained.
Once the grain is delivered in Haiti, distribution of the rice will occur from the many Haitian Baptist churches in and around Port au Prince. Florida Baptists' 15 years of partnership and assistance provided to Haitian Baptists has resulted in a model effort to distribute food and clothing without the chaos experienced at government-controlled food distribution points.
On another developing front in the effort to aid Haitians, the U. S. government is preparing to airlift orphans and other Haitian refugees from Port au Prince to Miami. According to the Miami Herald, federal agencies are gearing up under an existing crisis plan called "Operation Vigilant Sentry," drawn up in 2003 to help prepare for any mass migration from the Caribbean. Miami-Dade officials are looking at housing the refugees in the currently closed Krome Detention Center in West Miami-Dade and the old Baptist hospital facility in Kendall.
The influx of refugees will present a unique ministry opportunity for Florida Baptists in South Florida. As a result, the Convention has directed its Church and Community Ministries personnel, led by Marc Johnston, to begin developing action plans to assist in receiving, processing and re-settlement of these Haitian refugees.
Details are few given that the situation is very fluid. However, additional information on the Convention's response will be posted on the Convention's website http://www.flbaptist.org/.