In the final part of this series, we will look at the fourth goal of Branch Schools, which focuses on the blessing of a family of believers at the schools in Haiti.
Goal #4: Grow Lutheran mission congregations at the schools that can expand into the neighborhoods.
The chart below outlines the path that Branch Schools followed as the three Port-au-Prince orphanages and schools were established. The humanitarian needs arose in 2010 with the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake. This crisis created many physical needs for the orphans now at the Branch Schools orphanages, including shelter, food, water, and clothing. As these needs were addressed through the establishment of the orphanages, the next goal became education. Creating schools at the three orphanages to provide secular education helped prepare these orphans for their futures.
At the core of Branch Schools, however, is the spiritual education. The children learn Bible verses and the Catechism, and just this last June, 6 students publicly confessed their faith through confirmation! Growing naturally from this spiritual education is a nucleus of believers, found at all three Port-au-Prince orphanages and schools, the Pilate middle school, and now the Les Palmes pre-k/k school. The students from the neighboring areas bring home their workbooks, including their Catechism copies, and practice their memorized Bible verses with their parents, bringing God's Word into homes in the communities around the schools.
Along with the humanitarian needs being met at the orphanages and the spiritual and secular education provided at the five schools, Branch Schools is blessed to have church services every week to minister to this nucleus of believers. By the end of 2020, over 400 people attended these worship services, and we pray that this number will only rise!
As the nucleus of believers expands, we recall Jesus' words in the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:18-20). Thanks be to God for this amazing ministry at Branch Schools.
Branch Schools is overjoyed to have these congregations at the schools that we hope to continue growing into the neighborhoods and beyond. Thank you for your support to help us get there!
7.2 Magnitude Earthquake
On August 14th, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. Below is a series of real-time updates posted by Branch Schools in the aftermath.
News Update: August 14, 2021 Earthquake
Early Saturday morning, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Haiti, surpassing the level of the 2010 earthquake at a 7.0 magnitude.
The epicenter was in Petit Trou de Nippes, about 80 miles west of Port-au-Prince, with the nearby cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie experiencing some of the heaviest damage. As of 5:00 PM on Saturday, casualties reached over 225. Many injuries caused the small rural hospitals nearby to overflow. Rescue efforts are ongoing, with expectations of further damage as more information becomes available.
Following the earthquake, several aftershocks rippled through the area, with one reaching a magnitude of 5.1. More aftershocks are possible at this time, and a tsunami warning was issued briefly this morning as a precaution, but has since been lifted. Complicating rescue efforts is the approach of Tropical Storm Grace, which was expected to cross Haiti Saturday afternoon, but is now predicted closer to Monday. A concern for many in Haiti is that the rain from Tropical Storm Grace may cause mudslides in the rubble of the earthquake.
Branch Schools was in contact with the directors of the orphanages in Port-au-Prince shortly after the earthquake. Director Boursiquot reported that "I spoke with Yvette and Jeanot, everyone is okay" but that the "children are scared."
We are continuing to communicate with the directors, and await information from Pastor Rona about Pilate and Les Palmes. The Les Palmes school is closest to the epicenter; about 50 miles away.
We praise and thank God for keeping the Branch Schools family safe in this crisis. Please continue to pray for the children to be comforted, the rescue efforts to be safe and successful, and that all in Haiti may find their refuge and strength in God's loving hands.
Branch Schools will continue to update on the situation as we receive news from Pastor Rona or other developments.
Source: The New York Times: www.nytimes.com/live/2021/08/14/world/haiti-earthquake
Earthquake Update: August 16th, 2021
Pastor Terry Schultz received a message from Director Boursiquot in Haiti, sharing the good news that Pastor Rona, his family, and the Pilate and Les Palmes schools are all safe. Praise the Lord!
Officials in Haiti now report that over 1,200 people have died and 5,700 people are injured. 26,000 homes are either damaged or completely destroyed.
Please continue to keep Haiti in your prayers as Tropical Storm Grace approaches today, with the possibility of worsening damage and complicating rescue efforts.
"In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Earthquake Relief Update: August 17th, 2021
Branch Schools has continued to stay in contact with the directors in Haiti, and we are so thankful that the entire Branch Schools family has remained safe. Director Boursiquot has reported a few cracks in the walls at his orphanage, but the damage is not significant. God is so good!
We are also incredibly grateful for the support of many donors who have reached out with concern for those in Haiti and prayers for their safety and recovery. Your encouragement is deeply appreciated!
There are still many uncertainties in the days ahead for Haiti. One of the primary concerns for Branch Schools is that the already-high price of food will rise further. With violent gangs and mudslides making travel difficult or impossible, food is likely to become harder to access.
Branch Schools is committed to providing food for the orphans at the Port-au-Prince schools, even as prices rise. Your aid can provide much-needed relief in the aftermath of the earthquake, bringing assurance to the directors and children in Haiti in the face of extreme uncertainty. If you would like to help ensure that food remains available at Branch Schools, you can donate to our Earthquake Relief fund on our Donate page. Click "Give Today!" to donate via your bank account or credit card and select "Earthquake Relief" under the Purposes tab.
It is still too early to know what the schools may need to recover. As more questions are answered, Branch Schools may need to provide funding for building repairs or other expenses following the damage of these natural disasters--both the earthquake on August 14th and Tropical Storm Grace that crossed over Haiti on August 16th, continuing into today. The Earthquake Relief fund will be used to ensure that these costs do not interfere with the usual operations of the schools.
Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your aid for Haiti!
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
Earthquake Update - Rebuilding: August 20th, 2021
In the aftermath of the earthquake, Branch Schools received news that 25 houses belonging to the families of children who attend Branch Schools were destroyed. This picture shows some of the damage, which left 25 families very near and dear to Branch Schools without shelter. To help with the large cost of much-needed, urgent construction to rebuild houses for these families, Branch Schools applied for relief funds from WELS Christian Aid & Relief (CAR).
We are so thankful to share that CAR has generously and FULLY funded this request in the amount of $60,000! Praise the Lord for His immense blessings.
CAR shared this announcement: "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). This afternoon WELS Christian Aid and Relief approved a grant of $60,000 for Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti. At least 25 families who have children in the schools lost their homes and personal belongings in the recent earthquake. The grant will enable those families to rebuild and recover. We consider it a great privilege to help those who are hurting as the result of a disaster."
Branch Schools is preparing to transfer the funds and begin these building projects as quickly as possible. Your prayers for speedy and safe construction are greatly appreciated.
Thank you WELS Christian Aid and Relief!
"Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc.