Baptist volunteers ready to serve amid massive needs in Haiti - Word&Way

Baptist volunteers ready to serve amid massive needs in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti  (ABP) — Servando Silva and Matt Johnson were packed for Haiti before there was a trip to pack for.

The Mission, Texas-based nurse and doctor had prayed for an opportunity to help meet medical needs in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed roughly 200,000 people. Within 24 hours of that prayer, a Baptist group was providing a chance for them to put their medical expertise to work leading clinics in a suburb of Haiti’s capital.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas was connecting medical professionals with opportunities to put their skills to use following the disaster. “I have some medical skills,” said Johnson, a family doctor. “I have a desire to go and show the love of Christ.”

Hundreds of people lined up to be seen by the doctors who conducted the clinics alongside medical professionals from around the globe working through the Baptist World Aid Rescue 24 emergency-relief team. The duo treated a variety of ailments ranging from back aches to racing heartbeats to respiratory infections (the last most likely caused by the increased dust in the air following the earthquake).

“You get to noon and then the line is even longer,” Johnson said.

The members of Baptist Temple in McAllen, Texas, arrived in Port-Au-Prince two weeks after the earthquake. At one point, Silva was visiting with a small group of young men who were having problems sleeping because they were having daily nightmares about the earthquake. Silva prayed with them, then the group spontaneously began singing “Amazing Grace.”

Silva said he and Johnson invested themselves in their patients. “They needed help,” Silva said. “We gave ourselves to that individual.”

Johnson and Silva capped their week-long medical service by working overnight in the emergency room of a hospital, serving 24 hours straight — the clinic during the day, the emergency room that night. There the Texans treated a young boy with pneumonia, a woman suffering from life-threatening seizures and a variety of other serious issues.

“Forget about going to bed,” Silva said. “The need was still there.”

“You just have to say, ‘The only help these people have at this moment is me.”

While Silva and Johnson have returned home, they know what needs to be done most to help people recover. Each day when the volunteers closed their clinic, there were still people who wanted to be seen. Earthquake victims who have had limbs amputated need to see a doctor regularly. New teams of volunteers have come to serve with the Baptist World Aid team, but more volunteer medical personnel is needed, Silva said.

“There’s still a big need,” Silva said. “It’s not over. These people still need help — medications, treating people.”


John Hall is news director for Texas Baptists.