Archive for Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Members of Lawrence’s First Baptist Church go to Haiti to help build foundation for school

Scott Lamb and Beth Knapik, members of Lawrence's First Baptist Church, dig the foundation of a school in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, on a mission trip.

Scott Lamb and Beth Knapik, members of Lawrence's First Baptist Church, dig the foundation of a school in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, on a mission trip.

June 22, 2011

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A dozen members of First Baptist Church spent last week in Haiti, a trip that could prove life-changing both for them and for the people they helped.

The group traveled to the outskirts of Cap-Haitien, on the north coast of the poor island country, to dig the foundation for a school that will serve hundreds of children with no other hope of getting an education. All of the available schools are in the middle of the city, a half-hour away.

It’s a mission that resonated with a congregation composed largely of educators.

“It just became an easy fit for us to get behind,” said the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Matthew Sturtevant, who worked with an established Baptist missionary in Haiti to select a project based on the community’s greatest need.

“This is really a long-term fix to help enact change,” he said. “We see this as the beginning of a long-term covenant, a long-term relationship.”

Far from the capital city of Port-au-Prince and the worst of the 2010 earthquake damage, poverty in Cap-Haitien was nonetheless everywhere. Yet the Haitians the group met — from taxi drivers to disabled children in a hospital to people who showed up at the school site to help — were upbeat and welcoming.

“I didn’t expect to be affected in such a positive way,” said Scott Lamb, a senior at Lawrence High School. “There’s so much hope there and so much potential.”

In just a week, people were recognizing them and offering friendly waves. Group members took turns digging and playing with children who flocked to the work site. They attended church services conducted in Creole and enjoyed home cooking from members of the Haitian Baptist Convention.

“We already made connections, and that was really cool,” Lamb said.

His father, Brent Lamb, who was also on the trip, said the group wanted to address a specific need — previous missionaries had built an eye clinic — and education stood out.

“Even in a place like Haiti where there’s no way for us to make systemic changes, we can make a difference by really focusing our energy,” he said.

Nancy Bonner, a clinical social worker, said the trip was “amazing, life-changing, inspiring... The people were so joyful in spite of their conditions.”

The First Baptist congregation raised more than $12,000 for the mission, tapping a network of donors through a letter-writing campaign that reached out to friends and relatives nationwide. Depending on funding, the school could take either months or years to finish.

Sturtevant said the trip is helping rejuvenate the church’s outreach efforts.

“Why can we not be about the same mission every day here?” he said. “There are needs in Lawrence, in Kansas, in our own country. It crystallizes our purpose and re-energizes all of our other ministries.”

The mission group will share their experiences at a worship service July 3 at 10:45 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 1330 Kasold Dr.

Comments

motomom 3 years, 11 months ago

i know the members of "teamHAITI". and i have heard some of their stories and experienced their journey through them. this truly was a nationwide effort....the money raised from the letter writing campaign included people of all ages, faiths and walks of life. this mission trip was meant to get everyone involved not just 12 people from first baptist church to help our global neighbor. i bet several of these travelers will return to help with the completion and dedication of this school....it is an inspiring story that i will hope to hear more about in the future. in the meantime, for those of us right here in lawrence, kansas.....find your own way to help someone out who could really use it. get involved in helping make this planet just a little bit nicer to live on. thank you teamHAITI and thank you LJW for sharing this story!!

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