OWENSBORO, Ky. (7/8/13) – Several members of a Western Kentucky church, along with other volunteers, will be spending their summer vacation on a Caribbean Island, but they won't be going for “fun in the sun.”
From July 19 through July 26, members of Bellevue Baptist Church (located at 4950 Highway 56 in Owensboro) will make their eleventh trip to Haiti.
Although the church is located in Daviess County, Bellevue's congregation includes many members from surrounding counties.
Right now, one of the group's main concerns is raising the remaining $3000 needed to pack their plane with food, medical supplies, and Bibles to assist in the recovery of the earthquake ravaged island nation. An indoor Yard Sale was held Saturday, July 6 to help raise the amount needed to purchase food and medical supplies to take on the mission trip.
Danny Gray, Director of Missions for the church, said that "this will be the eleventh time since the 2010 quake that church members have been to Haiti.
“We will take food and vitamins with us, but we try to buy our pharmaceuticals in Haiti, because we just want to help their economy. We also hire at least one or two Haitian physicians and nurses to work with our people," Gray said.
Those going on the mission trip aren’t just adults, Gray pointed out.
"This project is turning into one of our international trips for our high school students at the church as well. Many of them will be helping in conducting Bible School with people in long lines. We have some orphanages we'll help do repair work, and share the gospel with the orphans. It's really a big endeavor. We focus on doing three and four different things." Gray said.
Gray said the previous trips like this have been humbling experiences at times.
“Because we are from Western Culture, a lot of times in the past, on short term mission projects, we felt like we knew everything... how do everything. But we have learned that's not the case. After 10 trips, we now realize we need to help them to help themselves. To teach people, to empower people, so they can to do things for themselves after we have left. Now when we go, we try to work with the local pastors, teach the Gospel to them, so that once we leave they can continue the progress we may help to start." Gray said.
The majority of people in the largely forgotten population of Haiti already lived in dire poverty even before an enormous earthquake struck 4 years ago. The 7.0 quake hit in January of 2010, leaving over 200,000 dead. It also left tens of thousands of orphaned children and sick and injured islanders of all ages, most who are still living homeless and hungry in tent cities.
The people of Haiti have been largely ignored and forgotten by the media and other countries. However, members of this missionary trip plan to do what they can to help relieve at least some of the suffering taking place just an hour by plane off the coast of Florida.
Beth Smith of Calhoun works as a respiratory therapist at Poole's Pharmacy Care, and attends Bellevue. This will be her fifth trip to Haiti since the quake.
Smith told SurfKY News what a typical trip looks like.
“We stay about a week and do free medical clinics, seeing approximately 500 people each day for six days. We supply them with free medicine, clothing, vitamins, and 2 pounds of rice and beans. Twenty dollars will feed a family there for a month...the price of a trip to a fast food restaurant for most of us," Smith said.
"We work at orphanages doing whatever is needed." Smith added. "We conduct youth revivals out in the streets."
Smith said that she "has been all over the U.S. and many impoverished countries.”
“But I have never seen poverty like this in my life. And yet, the people are so gracious and courteous, so happy with whatever we can do. They want to do better, but just don't have the opportunity." Smith said.
Smith said it’s important to understand that those suffering in Haiti "aren't lazy or just looking for hand-outs.”
“They just don't have the opportunity. Now that the news is not covering it, if it were not for missions like this, these people would starve to death,” she said.
Amy Gossett, of Central City, also works at Poole's Pharmacy Care, as a Durable Medical Equipment specialist and Certified Pharmacy Technician. This will be her first trip to Haiti.
Gossett said she is looking forward to the trip.
"I really want to go because there are thousands of people hurting, both spiritually and physically. Almost all have never heard the Gospel. I won't say they are lost. I just mean that they don't have any access to the Gospel. No churches, no Bibles, so many will live and die and never even get a chance to hear the Word of God." Gossett said.
To find out more about how you can help these missionaries reach their goal of $3000 still needed to buy food and medical supplies, call Bellevue Baptist Church at 270-685-5103.
People can also help by stopping by Poole's Pharmacy Care in Owensboro, Livermore, or Central City and purchasing a bottle of children's vitamins. This is one of the major needs for children now living on one meal every other day. For each bottle purchased for the HELP HAITI relief mission, Poole's will donate two bottles.
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