Helping the faithful a world away

Church members take emergency Haitian mission

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Hurricane Dennis couldn't stop some members of a local church from helping out where they're needed most.

Three members of Craig's First Christian Church left for Haiti on Monday to help with relief work in the wake of a deadly hurricane.

"When you go anywhere and give your time to help, it changes you," Pastor David Carrick said. "You come back and feel like you've been able to accomplish something. Sometimes it challenges you a whole lot more than it helped them."

Most recently, church members Sam Aberle, John Hille-waert and Daniel Shaffer left on short notice to aid in clean-up efforts in Haiti, said Cammie Aberle, Sam Aberle's wife.

But members of the church have been challenging themselves for years to offer their assistance in Haiti. About a dozen members also are planning an early October mission to Port au Prince to help at a medical clinic.

Cammie said some permanent Haitian missionaries recently visited the Craig church and testified about the area's dire need of assistance.

At least 40 people were killed in Haiti and more remained missing when Hurricane Dennis ripped through the poorest nation in Americas in mid-July. About 15,000 people are without homes and food, according to the Haitian civil protection agency.

The hurricane started July 5 south of the Dominican Republic. It moved north hammering Haiti and Cuba before moving up into Mississippi, Alabama and Florida by July 11. The Caribbean and Central American islands experienced the bulk of the hurricane's wrath with winds reported of as much as about 150 miles an hour.

But church members have long been known to take missions to Haiti partnering with Haitian Christian Outreach group.

Cammie and Sam Aberle went in January to help build a church and provide some medical help. Cammie said Haitian children often suffer from diseases born from a lack of basic hygiene because there often isn't clean water for washing. A nutritional center with the Haitian Christian Outreach group often provides children with the only meal they receive on a regular basis, Cammie said.

Carrick said people often come back from missions with an overwhelming sense of the abundance of wealth that North Americans often take for granted. However, Carrick said Haitians are wealthy in different ways. Without the distraction of possessions, Haitians spend more time working on their spirituality.

"Sometimes we get e-mail and people check in to say how are you doing, we're praying for you every day," he said. "Although they are living in worse conditions than us, they are more focused on their faith."

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