Almighty and everlasting God,
You are the strength of those who suffer;
You hear the groans of those who cry out
From Haiti’s devastations.
To every soul that is injured and distressed,
Please grant your mercy, relief, and refreshment.
Please use the work of our hands,
The labor of our earnings and financial gifts,
And the prayers of our compassion.
Surround those who have been shaken by tragedy
With a sense of your present love,
And hold them in faith.
Though they are lost in grief,
May they feel your presence and abiding love,
Through Jesus Christ, who was dead but lives
And rules this world with you.
President Dean K. Thompson
--Adapted from the Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is joining organizations and faith communities across the United States and around the world in responding to the earthquake that devastated the capital of Haiti on Tuesday, January 12, and catapulted a situation of humanitarian need for an estimated 3 million people.
President Dean Thompson is encouraging the Seminary community to pray and to make individual donations, over the next few days, which can immediately impact basic needs for survival.
As part of the Seminary’s immediate response, the Chapel Ministry Team held a prayer service Thursday evening in Caldwell Chapel on the Seminary campus.
“We are a community that prays, and we believe in the power of prayer,” said Claudio Carvalhaes, who is a professor of worship and preaching and directs the Chapel Ministries Program at Louisville Seminary.
“With Tuesday’s tragedy in Haiti, we have a need to gather and pray for this painful situation. Let us join our hearts and voices and lift this prayer service up to God for the people of Haiti.”
Carvalhaes also stated that the chapel doors will remain open for individuals who experience a need for a designated space to pray.
LPTS Alumna Missy Owen (MDiv) lived and served in Haiti for three and a half years, following her graduation from Louisville Seminary in 2005. She said the two most important things that people in America can do is to pray and give generously.
“We need to pray for the governments that are sending aid, for the roads to be clear enough to move people and supplies, and for the people of Haiti, that they will know that God has not abandoned them,” she said.
“And then, we need to provide support with our money,” she added, stating that people can feel confident their donations will be well utilized, “especially by aid organizations like Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.”
While in Haiti, Owen served with Family Health Ministries in the rural community of Fondwa, a mountainous region about 35 miles south of Port-au-Prince. During her last 18 months in Haiti, she served in the capital city at Hospice St. Joseph, a guest house for mission workers and a facility that provided housing for rural patients who came to the city for hospital care and treatment.
Though she has not been able to reach any of her friends and co-workers who live and work in Port-au-Prince, Owen said she has received a couple of emails and phone calls confirming the safety of some of her Haitian friends. And she has visited several websites to look through lists of names. But confirmation is slow.
“At first the phone would just not connect or it sounded busy. Now, they are ringing, but there is no answer. I cry every time I think about what may have happened.”
“It’s heartbreaking to wait for news,” she said, and then encouraged people to pray for Haitians who are living in the United States and waiting to hear about family members.
As the United States government, along with other nations and religious organizations around the world, respond, an outpouring of another kind has also taken place on the Seminary campus as professors and students have shared numerous avenues for supporting relief efforts, including the following collection of web sites (see list below).
“We have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ through service to our fellow human beings. Let us do more than pray for Haiti during this horrible disaster; let us commit ourselves, both individually and collectively, to doing something tangible to aid this suffering people,” said LPTS student Daniel “Corrie” Shull, who initiated a campus conversation about providing aid.
The most immediate needs in Haiti are water, food, shelter, and basic medical supplies.
On Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton, special United Nations envoy to Haiti, stated on Fox News and ABC News that what is done within the first 48 hours can determine how many lives will be saved.
Within the next 10 days, efforts will focus on "saving every life we can, and treating the dead with respect so they get a decent burial,” Clinton said.
He added that there will be years of help needed to rebuild the devastated areas of Haiti. However, if Americans want to help now, what is needed is cash. He said, “If every American donated $5 to $10 each, it would support the basic medical supplies needed for immediate response in this catastrophe.”
“The people of Haiti have a heart for survival,” said Owen, as she spoke of an email account about one of her colleagues, who barely survived the collapse of her apartment building in Port-au-Prince.
She said, “My friend spoke of ‘going toward the light’ as she crawled from one space toward another as the walls of her four-story apartment caved in behind her.”
“We talk about Jesus Christ as our light. And, it is my prayer that as we move toward the light our hands will open wider to give,” Owen encouraged.
Ways to Respond:
- The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is responding to this earthquake through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, which has already been mobilized and sent an initial $100,000 in aid. (http://www.pcusa.org/pda/) Individuals may give to the ongoing relief through PDA account number DR000064.
- United Methodists should consult http://www.umc.org and the United Methodist Committee on Relief link. The Haiti Relief effort has been given an Advance Special Number (#418325).
- Haiti is 80% Roman Catholic and the Catholic Relief Services organization is also taking donations online. (http://www.crs.org)
- The American Red Cross offers multiple options for donations. http://www.redcross.org. You can also Text "HAITI" to 90999 and a $10 donation will be given to relief efforts and charged to your cell phone bill.
- In behalf of the United Nations the Clinton Foundation has promised to move immediately every dollar received for Haiti relief. http://www.clintonfoundation.org/haitiearthquake/. You can also Text "HAITI" to 20222 and $10 will be donated to relief efforts and charged to your cell phone bill.