Good Shepherd United Methodist Church of the North
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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Haiti - First Steps and Beyond

If you are United Methodist and living in Michigan you know about Haiti, or at least you should.  The Michigan Area has a long and deep relationship with the people of the Methodist Church of Haiti and their communities.  The Detroit and West Michigan Conferences have multiple Volunteer in Mission teams that routinely travel to various parts of the Haitian urban and country landscape.  The Area Haiti Task Force has helped focus water projects, the Haiti Hot Lunch Program, Grace Children’s Hospital, helping build multiple schools and church buildings, all centered around relationships and shared hope through Jesus Christ.
 
The deeper a relationship goes the more urgent the desire to respond when someone in that relationship is in dire trouble.  The flood of images coming out of the devastating earthquake in Haiti evokes such a deep emotional response from us that words are inadequate at this time.  We desire to incarnate our covenant commitment.  However, we want to respond in the manner that is most helpful by those requesting it.  Disaster response evolves in phases.  The magnitude of the devastation has altered the landscape of how we can respond for the immediate moment and near future.  
 
Here are some things we should not do even though we yearn to:
1.    We cannot travel directly to Haiti to help yet at this point.  The most important responders are the teams coming in for search and rescue.  The military is coming in to establish order for the imminent need for food, water, medical care and shelter.  All interested Volunteer in Mission Teams or individuals are asked to register with our North Central Jurisdictional VIM Coordinator who will then make connections when needed and appropriate. (click here for more information.)
2.    We cannot immediately ship anything to the site.  There are no clear distribution systems in place yet.  Inequitable distribution creates the potential for chaos.  As items are needed we will call for them so please wait for specific instructions.  Non-Governmental Organizations and various countries are bringing in the initial supplies.  We as annual conferences will be a part of the second wave, and multiple more following that.
Here are some things we can do  as our first phase of response:
1.    Pray, and pray more.  Pray for those you know are in the affected area.  Pray for the neighbors helping each other.  Pray for quick and capable response by on-site agencies.  Pray for first response teams.  Pray for those who live in a place of unknowing about loved ones.  Pray for the church to be the body of Christ to the wider community in crisis.  Pray for those here that have built deep relationships with Haitian Methodist church leaders.
2.    Give, and give sacrificially.  UMCOR is suited well to partner for us and with us, even in the midst of not hearing from their own team that was on site. (click here for more information.) This initial cash flow is vital and will be needed for months to come.
3.    Prepare Health Kits, and invite others to do so.  In order to meet what will be an immense demand in the mass of displaced persons, UMCOR has requested that one of our first responses be to prepare Health Kits for quick distribution as our response door opens.  Challenge your neighboring United Methodist Churches to reach a shared goal. (click here for more information.)
Next Steps: 
1.    Identify a person in your church to check your conference website daily for updates.  
2.    Identify a prayer team to focus the congregation on specific issues coming out of the updates.
3.    Take an offering soon and send it on to your Conference Treasurer for distribution.
4.    Set a goal for the number of Health Kits from your church or district.
5.    Be watching for a next phase coming out of our Michigan Area Haiti Task Force which will be communicated through our offices as well.  It will allow us to begin stockpiling some very specific items for distribution in the near future.  
6.    Review the volunteer guidelines and specific needs at umvimncj.org.  If you can meet those demands then register.  Please respect the request for coordinating in this manner for now.  You will be notified as specific teams are needed.
In Christ’s circle of hope,
 
Rev. Dr. Jerome R. DeVine                                                               Rev. Benton H. Heisler
Director of Connectional Ministries                                 Director of Connectional Ministries
Detroit Conference UMC                                                           West Michigan Conference UMC
 
The Detroit Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
1309 North Ballenger Hwy Suite #1 , Flint, MI 48504-7598
1.800.334.0544