Help Haiti churches rebuild through Alabaster offerings

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tabarre Church mission tripNazarene churches were damaged and some collapsed during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Fortunately for the Tabarre Church of the Nazarene, its building sustained only about 5 percent damage and has used the structure for continued ministry to its community in the wake of the disaster.

The Tabarre church almost didn’t have a building at all. The congregation, which had been raising money for their own building, decided in 2008 to take the money they’d raised and use it for others instead of themselves. They stopped focusing on having their own building and planned a mission trip to the island of Sint Maarten.

After they diverted their funds to missions, they received an unexpected $10,000 (USD) from global Alabaster offerings to finish constructing their church.

While churches are made up of people, and buildings are not necessary for God’s Spirit to grow His church, buildings can provide a strong and stable resource for outreach and ministry. In the case of Tabarre, the church is now using its building to respond to the vast needs created by the earthquake in January, said Pastor Sadrack Nelson. This, in spite of the fact that many members lost their own homes, and several families died as a result of the earthquake.

“We've distributed food, water, Crisis Care Kits to people in the church and the community of the church,” he said. “Wednesday (February 10) we are going to begin with therapy groups of our church members and we are going to extend it to people in the community. The next week we are going to begin with CFS: Children Friendly Space for our children.”

Tabarre Church mission tripRead more about Tabarre's initial disaster response.

Long-term rebuilding through Alabaster
Since the earthquake, the Church of the Nazarene has responded to immediate needs for food, clothing, water and medical treatment through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries' disaster response ( Plans for long-term rebuilding is also necessary.

The Alabaster fund --
devoted to constructing buildings such as churches, schools and medical clinics and hospitals -- is positioned to help Haiti churches rebuild for continuing long-term ministry. Nazarene Missions International (NMI) encourages Nazarenes worldwide to give generously to the Alabaster fund in 2010 and coming years, said NMI Director Daniel Ketchum. The Alabaster offering is collected annually in local churches around the world

“All Alabaster funds given this year above the total amount Nazarenes gave for Alabaster last year will be allocated to restore and construct new Haitian Nazarene properties,” Ketchum said. “We believe it is important to many other strategic needs around the world that we leave Alabaster funds undesignated. However, we do recognize the extreme importance of sending additional Alabaster funding to Haiti. Therefore, we encourage additional Alabaster giving for property needs in Haiti.”

Ketchum added that $1,000,000 USD from Alabaster funds has been allocated toward rebuilding in Haiti.

The role of buildings
Before the earthquake, Tabarre church was still constructing its building. Although the undamaged structure is proving very useful as a home base for training its members in trauma counseling and disaster response, more than ever they sense the need to focus less on buildings and more on human needs, Nelson said.

“We are about to reflect on how what happened on January 12 is to modify all what we are doing at the church from extending our facilities to be able to develop more ministries,” he said. “In some months it will be the hurricane season, so our church must be ready for it.”

During Tabarre’s Sunday service on February 7, seven people accepted Christ as their Savior. The partially complete church building is already too small to hold all those who are attending – now numbering 400.

Tabarre Church mission tripPastor Nelson last fall wrote about the journey that has expanded Tabarre church’s vision for joining God in His mission to the world:

The year of 2005 represents a very dark period in the history of Haiti. The country has experienced one of the most difficult times in all its history. Port-au-Prince, the capital, with its most famous neighborhoods, Cite Soleil and Bel-Air, was plunged into violence and crime. Life was becoming literally impossible in those areas and many people were obliged to move out.

That situation affected the churches that were serving those communities and paralyzed their functioning, as many of their members, being not able to reach their places of worship, were wandering and did not know what to do.

After many consultations, the Nazarene church of Bel-Air decided to start a new church with the members who were not able to reach their worship place every week. So, on September 11, 2005, a special service was held at the front yard of a primary school and a new Nazarene church was born in the community of Tabarre.

Since then, the Nazarene church of Tabarre never stops growing. In less than two years, we baptized 101 members on the roll. Today our enrollment is about 250 active members.

One of the best things about the history of that church is from the outset, this church understood the necessity not to just sit there and wait for others to come and conduct ministry. The members all understood that the church was theirs, and if something must be done, it first has to be done by them.

Every Sunday, every member agreed to bring a special offering to support the building project of the church. As a result, in less than two years we acquired a property and began the construction of the church building.

Unexpected blessings
Last September marked the fourth anniversary of the church. It was a great blessing and encouragement for the whole church as new members expressed their gratitude to God for the ministry of the church to the neighborhood. On the same occasion the church received a gift of $10,000 (U.S.) for its building project from Alabaster funds.

We have been grateful for these funds--we were not expecting to receive them. These funds represent to us a very big confirmation of God’s favor upon the orientation of the church and its ministries, and came during a time when we had stopped our fund-raising activities for the building project. Instead, we were focusing on raising funds for our mission project to
Sint Maarten.

Tabarre Church mission tripWe thought that our mission project to Sint Maarten should be prioritized over the building project. We knew as a church we could exist without a building -- with great difficulties-- but not without our mission, which is making Christlike disciples in the nations. So, we decided to stop with our fundraising for the building project in order to start with the fundraising for our mission project.

The surprise was altogether astonishing: As we made that decision, God provided [Alabaster] money for our building project. Isn’t it marvelous! No wonder that now our church feels more motivated to give, not only to our own mission projects, but also to the global church's mission activities.

Rewards of sacrifice
We succeeded in raising the funds to go to Sint Maarten where we hosted many activities: evangelism in two different neighborhoods every morning; open-air concerts with religious movies in the afternoon; revival meeting at night for the Haitian community; sport activities for youth; visits to the hospital; conferences and more. We shared about Jesus Christ in four languages: Creole, French, English and Spanish.

Seven people gave their hearts to Jesus Christ. Two of them are Sint Maarten native people. Now, two different Bible study groups are about to be organized as a result of our activities. Our ultimate goal is to plant a Nazarene church in the Sint Maarten community, on the Dutch side (we already have a Nazarene church in the Haitian community on the French side). Presently, we are considering the possibility to have a missionary there for a period of six months or an entire year.

Besides all this, our board just made the decision to pay our
World Evangelism Fund
contribution monthly. Our church definitely is mission-oriented. We have many other projects along the way. Please pray for the Nazarene church of Tabarre, Haiti, as we are working faithfully to advance God's kingdom, not only in Haiti, but also abroad.