Missionaries from area churches stuck in Haiti
HAMMOND – Members of The Mission Church are eagerly awaiting the return of five members of its congregation who are stuck in Haiti.
Large riots over the price of fuel have closed streets and forced the United States to warn its citizens there to shelter in place.
Pastor Jim Grega and four others of the Tangipahoa Parish church are in Haiti where they’ve been doing mission work for years. The Mission has a large school and church set up there.
But, they’re not the only local missionaries in Haiti sheltering from riots on the streets.
Belfair Church of Baton Rouge also has missionaries in Haiti, pastor Jon Bennett told WBRZ Monday.
Both Grega and Bennett spoke with channel 2 from the safety of their hotels.
“We've had the UN here with us... which has really been a God-send. They set up a plan on Sunday because we thought we were going to be overrun,” Grega said.
“We were blessed enough not to have to go through with it.”
Grega said the situation is uneasy, but his group is safe. In a separate conversation, Bennett echoed that feeling.
Grega said the situation can change quickly – earlier in the day Monday, they were warned for violence just outside their hotel.
“They're trying to get private planes to get us out. Even a Black Ops group... was [considered],” he said.
Grega reinforced, though, they are safe.
The Mission Church in Hammond supports a school that educates kids through 3rd grade. In the coming school year, the church plans to expand the school to 4th grade.
In addition to the school, there’s also a church on some sprawling 7-and-a-half acres, Grega said, proud of the work his church has accomplished.
It’s why they’ll be back.
“We’ve come so far – why stop now?”
“A lot of these kids don’t have an opportunity to go to school, so this is a great thing,” missionary Tim Barends, who, with his wife and son, are working with Grega in Haiti.
Grega said verses from the Bible have routinely found themselves into the group's conversations as they've waited to leave.
"It has a lot to do with trusting in God... And some people will say 'Oh, ya.' However, we've been getting Bible verses that are right on. So, that's helped us."
One that came to mind, Grega said, was from Exodus: The Lord will fight your battles stay calm.
Airlines have shuttered service over the last few days. Grega and Bennett both believe they’ll be back in Louisiana toward the end of the week.
As many as 150 missionaries from the United States are in Haiti.
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