A container of faith: Brethren in Miami send relief goods to earthquake survivors in Haiti

By Ilexene Alphonse

When we at Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla., decided to ship a container to Haiti, we had no idea how it would play out. We didn’t know how much it would cost and whether we would have enough money to ship. We didn’t know whether we would have enough supplies to fill a 40-foot container. We didn’t know anyone in Haiti who knows the custom system, with the connections to help us. There was fear of not knowing what would happen.

But we didn’t give in to the fear and concerns that we have felt. We stepped out in faith and God made it all possible.

Our congregation gave money, food, supplies, and their time to box and load the container. We had more than enough to fill the container, with things left for next time. Partnering with us were Peniel Baptist Church and its pastor, Dr. Renaut Pierre Louis, and Onica Charles, the owner of Little Master Academy, and a few other donors like Falcon Middle in Weston, Fla., and Miami Metro Ford. Brethren Disaster Ministries also contributed, two Church of the Brethren congregations sent handmade dresses, and many other friends helped out too–and God multiplied.

The container came out of customs in Haiti a week after the time they told me it would be released. I flew to Haiti last Thursday, Oct. 21, to help with getting the container out of customs and to unload it into box trucks to take to Saut Mathurine, the area in southwest Haiti where the Haitian Brethren are beginning to rebuild after the earthquake.

But by the time I came back to the US on Saturday the 23rd, nothing was done except the container was out of customs.

Then some of the unions in Haiti announced a strike for three days to close the country because of lack of fuel, so we were compelled to work diligently to bring the supplies to Saut Mathurine before the country closed the next day. When pastor Romy Telfort, a leader in L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti), called the drivers to go, they told him that they had to fuel up to go to the south. On Sunday morning, I spent most of my time during worship on the phone with people in Haiti to find drivers who had fuel and were brave enough to make the drive.

Finally we found two drivers. They left Port-au-Prince on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. One of them made it to Saut Mathurine on Monday afternoon, after a few broken windows. The other driver made it to Saut Mathurine on Wednesday afternoon. For those types of vehicles, it’s a maximum of 7 hours of driving from Port-au-Prince to Saut Mathurine–but with the situation of the country it took days for them to get there. There were a lot of roadblocks, rock throwing, and bullets flying, but thanks to God they made it safely to their destination.

There were a total of three big closed trucks filled with the supplies from the container. So far, two of them have made it safely to Saut Mathurine and one is still at the Church of the Brethren guesthouse in Croix des Bouquets, near to Port-au-Prince, waiting for fuel and safe passage to go.

We thank God and everyone who prayed for and gave to this effort, for the glory of God and the wellbeing of our neighbors in Haiti. Every time they thank God, God will remember you!

— Ilexene Alphonse is pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla., a majority Haitian congregation of the Church of the Brethren. He is helping coordinate the joint earthquake response of Brethren Disaster Ministries and L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti).


Find more Church of the Brethren news:

The container (above). Donations from Falcon Middle School (below). All photos courtesy of Ilexene Alphonse
Above: Donations take over the church building. Below: Sorting and packaging donations for the shipment.
Above: Beginning to unload the container after its arrival in Haiti.
Above: Relief goods are transferred to one of the vehicles that drove them to their destination in Saut Mathurine.