Report from U.S. embassy in Haiti circulated

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti. (BP)--Firsthand accounts of the earthquake in Haiti have been circulating among concerned Baptists in the United States, including one from a son of former missionaries who now works at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.

David Lindwall is the son of retired International Mission Board workers Ted and Sue Lindwall of McKinney, Texas. He serves as the deputy chief of mission with the embassy in Haiti.

"I'm fine. Thanks for your prayers," Lindwall wrote in an e-mail to his parents Jan. 12. "I'm in the Embassy coordinating our efforts. A number of our officers are injured and we haven't been able to get to them. The roads are all blocked.

"The earthquake hit while I was on the road home and a four story building collapsed right as we got beside it, each floor falling on top of the other. My driver tried to take me back to the Embassy, but the roads were blocked by debris," Lindwall wrote.

"I convinced a man on a motorcycle to take me to the Embassy. I'm fine. I'll be staying at the Embassy. Secretary Clinton called and spoke with me about a half hour ago. I gave her a report on how things are here. My house guard told me that my house is in one piece. I haven't been able to reach the staff. Thanks again for your prayers. Don't worry about me. And I'll touch base later."

Lindwall's parents had first learned he survived when they heard a CNN report quoting him. The news network reported damage to the national palace in Haiti as well as collapsed government buildings.

"Knowing that you are all right is the most important news about you," the Lindwalls wrote to their son. "We will be interested in hearing from you, but know that you have far more important things to do, especially since we know you are OK. We are getting calls and emails from quite a few folks, asking about you. We now have something we can tell them."

FLORIDA MISSION TEAM POSTS UPDATES -- First Baptist Church in Ovieda, Fla., has been relaying updates from their mission volunteers in Haiti on Facebook.

"They are moving to higher ground because tsunami warning has been issued," a status report on First Baptist Ovieda's page said soon after the earthquake. "They were only 5 miles from epicenter so it is miraculous that they are safe. Please intercede for their continued safety and that in the midst of this disaster, God will use them to minister and demonstrate his love," a status update on First Baptist Ovieda's page said.

The team of 21 adults and 17 children from First Baptist Oviedo, First Baptist Church in Winter Garden and The First Academy in Orlando was serving with New Missions, an Orlando-based nonprofit ministry which operates churches, schools and medical clinics. Reports indicated that everyone at the compound, about 20 miles south of Port-au-Prince, was safe with no injuries but buildings there were severely cracked. The team slept outside during the night as a precaution.

Rick Ray, executive pastor at First Baptist Ovieda, said on the church's website that the staff had spent Wednesday making various contacts in an effort to evacuate the team from Haiti. Finally, their local congressman's office said the Coast Guard had communicated with the compound and the team could expect to be airlifted to the Dominican Republic as early as Thursday, followed by a flight to Orlando.

Tim DeTellis, worship pastor at First Baptist Church in Winter Garden, is New Missions' president, and he posted a message on Facebook describing the earthquake.

"The ground was like an ocean wave at New Missions when the earthquake hit. Most of our team was at the Missions Training Center, it was just before 5 p.m.," DeTellis wrote. "At the time, I was with Bob Scott doing a video interview of a TFA student when all of a sudden we heard a big boom and the ground began to rock.

"The concrete pathway I was standing on at the end of the Missions Training Center closest to the ocean cracked in half and the earth began to open. We all fell down. Started hearing things crashing and people screaming," DeTellis added. "At first we stood in a circle together between the ocean and the missions training center and confirmed no one was hurt.

"We moved to the other side of the mission and began to load the vehicles to evacuate. Along the road to the high school we saw continued structural damage. However, Christians were singing in the villages. At the high school, we circled the vehicles and some slept on the trucks and some slept on the ground on a tarp. We are thankful to be safe. There is extensive damage to buildings at the mission. Please pray!"

VIRGINIA CHURCH REPORTS ON HAITIAN PASTOR -- Lamarr Mooneyham, pastor of The Tabernacle, a Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia church in Danville, Va., has had a longstanding relationship with Jean Edmond, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church near Port-au-Prince and founder of an orphanage.

Mooneyham reported, "My prayer for the people of Haiti and my good friend, Pastor Edmond, is that all the relief help will be able to go directly to the people and be maximized. Everything in Haiti relates and connects to the church. The best relief would be to partner with Baptist churches, like Calvary, and let them give out the physical relief with the spiritual relief of the Gospel."

The Virginia pastor spoke with Edmond's daughter, who lives in Miami, and learned that she spoke with her father following the earthquake. He and his wife were fine, the daughter said, but she had been unable to reach him following some aftershocks and remained concerned about his safety.

The Tabernacle has supported Edmond's ministry in Haiti through money and mission trips for 23 years, and Edmond visited the Virginia congregation in December.

MISSOURI CHURCH PRAYS FOR HOSPITAL WORKERS -- Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo., received a prayer request for Steve and Faith Leach, who operate a small hospital in Bombardopolis on the northwest tip of Haiti.

"Every 4-6 weeks they travel to Port au Prince for supplies, and were there when the earthquake hit," the request said. "(We believe that their teenage son, Jacob, is still in Bombard.) The message we received from Steve & Faith was this: 'Terrible damage ... many lives lost. We haven't heard anything from Bombard. Caribbean market demolished with many people inside, guesthouse totaled, Hope Orphanage and many, many buildings totaled. Please pray.'"

According to a website about their ministry, haitihospital.org, the Leaches grew up in southwest Missouri and have been living in Haiti since 1996. They have four children, including one who lives with them. The Leaches administrate a 14-bed evangelical hospital in a remote area, offering general consultations, OBGYN services, a vaccination program, a pharmacy and a laboratory.


Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press. With reporting by Jerry Pierce of the Southern Baptist Texan, Lisa Watson of the Arkansas Baptist News, Brandon Pickett of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and Don Hinkle of The Pathway in Missouri.

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