As the devastation mounts in Haiti from the earthquake and its sizable aftershocks over the past week and a half, 62 lives were spared at an orphanage supported by a local pastor’s mission organization.
Moments before the earthquake struck the preacher running the orphanage, Pastor Enock Deroseney called the younger children and workers out of the three-story building to watch the older boys play soccer. As the earthquake rattled the building and the adjacent church to the ground, the 55 orphans and seven staff members who live and work there were unharmed.
“I think it’s a divine appointment. I think God orchestrated their safety and as a result of Him pressing on the heart of Pastor Enock to do that they were spared,” said Pastor James Don Burkhalter of Abundant Life Church in Springfield.
However, the orphans and staff are left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing when the earthquake hit. For the first two and a half days, they had no food or water. Burkhalter spoke with Deroseney, who said that more orphans have arrived, and they are all sleeping in the field next to the rubble.
The Haitian orphanage was established in 1971 about 19 miles southwest of Port au Prince in Grand-Goave. Burkhalter has been supporting the orphanage since 2000. At the time, Burkhalter and a colleague had co-founded a 501c3 nor for profit organization dubbed ChurchQuake International. He has built numerous churches and orphanages in Zimbabwe and Malawi and has been successful in Trinidad.
In Haiti, ChurchQuake International set up six churches, two schools and the Grand-Goave orphanage. One of the schools met in the orphanage. Most of its 600 students have not been accounted for as the entire city was destroyed.
“The buildings that were cracked or partially falling in, he said nearly every one of them fell in,” Burkhalter said of what Deroseney told him.
“And when that happened, he said all the rescuers that were going in those buildings just quit because it had already been six days. He said bodies were piled up; the stench in the air was unbelievable.”
Burkhalter is now working with a woman in North Carolina to coordinate with Fort Stewart to send company-sized tents to Grand-Goave for temporary housing.
“The main thing right now is getting things stabilized,” Burkhalter said.
Burkhalter has been to Haiti 22 times and is planning to go there in the next two or three weeks with an architect to assess the costs for rebuilding the facilities, which he estimates to be around $250,000.
The orphanage functions under the name “Good Samaritan Project” and receives funding through its own orphan sponsorship and ChurchQuake International. Money for the orphanage is collected in an account in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where Deroseney’s daughters live, and is allotted as needed.
“(Haiti) is not really a safe place to keep money,” Burkhalter said.
Typically during an emergency, funds can be sent through Wal-Mart immediately, but the Wal-Mart there is no longer standing. Therefore the funds must be channeled through Florida.
Burkhalter said Deroseney sends receipts for all the money used and that no salaries are being collected in the U.S., so all the money goes directly to the mission.
Teachers who work at the schools are given anywhere from $20-$100 a month, which is a lot in a country where 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line an 54 percent live in abject poverty, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Burkhalter said what is needed most for the orphanage right now is financial support, and there are a number of ways to give to this organization and help the orphanage:
Go to www.churchquake.com to donate with PayPal.
Go to www.goodsamaritanproject.com to sponsor an orphan.
Drop off donations for ChurchQuake International at Abundant Life Church office at 1541 Highway 21 in Springfield next to Harvey’s.
Deposit contributions with Citizens Bank in Springfield to the ChurchQuake International account.
Contributions are tax deductible and statements of donations will be given.
“We appreciate anything that anybody might have to offer, whether their prayers or support financially or any other way. We very much appreciate their concern for the situation. I’ve found that the people in Effingham are a very caring and concerned people,” Burkhalter said.