BCM team breaks down walls in Haiti during Spring Break
Charles Lillard, Baptist Collegiate Ministry director at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, thought he was prepared for what he was going to see in Haiti when he was asked to help lead a relief team there March 12-22.
“I was in New Orleans after Katrina. I was at High Island after Ike. Both were terrible disasters that destroyed property and took lives. I have seen the poor in Malawi, Armenia, China, Houston and Los Angeles. Nothing prepared me for what I would witness and experience in Haiti,” Lillard said when he returned.
An estimated 300,000 people were killed when the late afternoon, 7.2 magnitude quake struck the western half of the Island of Hispaniola on Jan. 12.
“Help for this island nation poured in from many sources, none more than (from) the Baptist Disaster Relief,” Lillard said. “I was part of a team of 10 who spent an extended Spring Break in Haiti. Three of us had been through Oklahoma Disaster Relief training. The eight students were from various Baptist Collegiate Ministries in the state. They were willing workers with a heart for God and people.
“Looking back, I can see God put this team together. We worked extremely hard, and stayed in less than ideal circumstances. The living accommodations were much worse outside the walls of Joy House, than inside where we stayed. While we enjoyed running water, electricity and abundant food, the Haitian populace lived without. We learned the rule of three, three minutes without air, three days without water or three weeks without food brings a person to a critical stage of survival.
“The students sacrificed money and time to be part of the team. While many of their friends were on the beach playing volleyball or in the mountains skiing, they were swinging sledge hammers and cutting rebar.
The Oklahomans were joined by a team of 17 leaders and students from Texas A&M University who were equally committed to the task.
“The task given to us was to demolish the structure of a voodoo temple that had collapsed during the quake,” Lillard revealed. “As we surveyed our assignment, it seemed overwhelming. We only had a week to do the job. We were able to complete the assignment in four days. It turns out that the missionaries actually thought it would take several teams working three weeks. We were happy and humbled that we could exceed their expectations.”
The teams also also helped with food distribution. The Joy House ministry has started 17 churches during the past 12 years. They use the churches when they distribute food.
“One of the pastors was given 200 ‘tickets,’” Lillard said. “We had filled 200 bags with beans and rice. On the day of distribution, people began lining up for food. I noticed that none of them had tickets. As those who had tickets came we handed them the bags of life-giving food. All those standing in line did not receive any food, at least on that day. Our small act of mercy was dwarfed by the need.
“Our assignment was just outside of Port-Au-Prince. Driving from and to the airport, we saw the massive scale of the disaster. The sights, sounds and smells of Haiti will be with me forever. Relief efforts continue in Haiti. I encourage Oklahoma Baptists to continue to pray for the Baptist Disaster Relief as they make a significant impact on the people of Haiti. Could it be that God will use this terrible thing to create something beautiful?”
Other members of the Oklahoma team included Denny Freeman, BGCO BCM State Associate, and students, Andrew Wade, Cale Freeman and Jake Bostwick, UCO; Tyler Owens, Tulsa Community College; Jason Montgomery, Southwestern State University; and John Stanson, Joshua Lovelace and Ryan McMillan, Southeastern State University.