On January 12, 2010, Haiti experienced the strongest earthquake in more than 200 years. Dallas Theological Seminary responded to the desperate need for help by starting the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund specifically to assist DTS alumni serving Haiti. The outpouring of generosity by individuals, churches, and Christian ministries was and continues to be profound. In the weeks immediately following the disaster, the Church and Placement Office dispersed emergency funds to seven Haitian ministries operated by DTS alumni.
Robert Riggs, vice president for campus operations at DTS, recently visited Haiti and has provided this update on our alumni, rebuilding efforts, and how the financial contributions to the relief effort are making a difference:
As of August 3, DTS students, alumni, and various churches have donated $356,274 for DTS’ Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. DTS has distributed $224,462 of that amount to DTS alumni in Haiti and their ministries. Additional distributions are pending as the alumni are able to assess their needs and make additional recommendations.
Our June 16-19 trip included visits with Joel Laloi (ThM 87), Edner Jeanty (ThM 89), Gersan Valcin (ThM 95), Jean Dorlus (ThM 95), Wawa Jean Baptiste, (ThM 02), Jacques Louis (ThM 02), Henoc Lucien, (ThM 91), Denny Day (MA/CE 91), and Bruce and Cindy McMartin (ThM 80). I traveled with Kevin Brown (ThM 99), a fellow elder at Faith Bible Church, DeSoto, TX, and Walter Williams, an elder at Christ Chapel, Fort Worth, TX.
So far, funds have been distributed to each of these men's individual ministries, as well as STEP (Seminaire de Theologie Evangelique de Port-au-Prince). This sister seminary is strategically located in the capital city, Port-au-Prince, which was devastated by the earthquake. Eight of our DTS alumni teach or are directly affiliated with this school making it a key focus of our support.
The earthquake completely destroyed Port-au-Prince, which has a population of approximately 2,000,000. Within 53 seconds the entire world changed for its residents. 300,000 people have been confirmed dead and another 300,000 are missing. One and one-half million people are believed to be living in tents. Multi-story homes and buildings have collapsed throughout the city, and it does not take a visitor long to realize that the missing are likely buried under the rubble that surrounds them. The devastation is so severe that the country has not yet been able to start full-scale debris removal.
Our graduates have been a powerful force in proclaiming hope for their congregations and the city. Immediately after the earthquake, STEP transformed its campus from a seminary to a tent city. The president, Jean Dorlus (ThM 95), became a non-official mayor, sanitation coordinator, food supplier, judge, and leader of the recovery effort in his neighborhood.
Other alumni, who have families and pastor local churches, were all mercifully saved through the catastrophe. Meeting in tents and parking lots, they too responded to the call to serve. Immediately, they began helping those who suffered unimaginable loss. Attendance at churches swelled with those seeking help, and DTS graduates were there to point them toward the Savior.
Having heard of the prayers and funds that have been raised and are being distributed, our Haitian grads are greatly relieved. In addition to the cost of taking care of their own families, these grads had been funding local relief efforts. The resources provided through the relief fund, now allow them to address larger needs.
Remember Port-au-Prince by name in your prayers. Ask that God would give the leaders of STEP continued favor in the community. Pray that short-term and long-term partners will join the ministry leaders in Haiti to see God establish this nation as a stronghold of faith. Pray for the men and women who have the training to grow in strength to serve in the most difficult of situations. Pray for God to raise up many more DTS alumni to call Haiti their place of ministry.Robert RiggsVice President for Campus OperationsExecutive Assistant to the President
All funds (100%) raised through DTS' Haiti Disaster Relief Fund go to DTS alumni serving in the affected areas. It is not too late to contribute.