Our phone system has been restored. Thank you for your patience over the last day as we worked to get back up-and-running.
Due to a lightning strike this afternoon, our entire phone system is down at First Baptist Oviedo. We are working on repairing it as soon as possible. Please use email to get a hold of anyone until then. General questions and inquiries can be directed page. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Southern Baptists have an extensive network for disaster response including missionaries already on the scene with language and cultural skills. The IMB partners with Baptist Global Response because it is led by Southern Baptists who have decades of experience in disaster assessment and relief projects. If you would like to personally volunteer, please send them an E-mail at . Indicate your name and contact information, what skills you have and when you are available.
As we have connected with multiple local, state & federal officials over the past weeks, they have been very supportive of our desire to provide foster care for Haitian children whose orphanages have been damaged or destroyed. We are also encouraged that many of you have expressed a desire to be a part of such an effort. Unfortunately, the Haitian government is resistant to children leaving Haiti unless they already have an adoption process underway. As we understand it, their concern is that once children leave Haiti they won’t be returned to them when their infrastructure has been restored or a child’s parents are located. We are calling upon our congregation to be prayer warriors that the Haitian government will change their stance and show willingness to develop a process they feel comfortable with. We remain hopeful and are poised to implement our plans as soon as we are permitted to do so.
As we patiently wait, we are also looking into other ways we can participate in humanitarian relief in a tangible way. We are in the early stages of planning a city-wide collection of supplies in partnership with the City of Oviedo. Watch for an email blast that will be coming soon with details on specific items we will be collecting and ways you can get involved in this large undertaking!
First Baptist Oviedo is attempting to rescue some orphans in Haiti who are facing imminent death by starvation, dehydration and infection. We have been working all week with various entities at the local, state and federal levels to arrange permission for this trip.
We have not yet obtained permission but feel we are close enough to put the rescue team together. Those confirmed for this trip are the following:
These are the position we still need:
IF you have the skills AND schedule flexibility and would like to help, contact us at . We would prefer to take members of First Baptist Oviedo, but if we cannot fill the positions from within, then we will look outside the church. We expect the cost of this trip to be minimal. Additionally, you will need a valid passport.
Do not call the Church Office as the receptionist might be overwhelmed. Furthermore the offices are closed Friday but the email inquiries will be monitored on a daily basis. We do not know for sure we will be granted permission. If we are, we cannot say for sure when we will leave but it will probably be within 48 hours of notification. We anticipate the trip to last no more than 3 days.
Further, if you know someone with access to a jetliner that would make provision for us, we need to hear from you. Please send us only direct leads with specific contact information, not second-hand information.
January 20, 4:30 p.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The five-member BGR assessment team is on the ground in Haiti, driving toward Port-au-Prince. They are accompanied by Mark Rutledge, who has 26 years of experience serving as an International Mission Board worker in Haiti. The team will be connecting with Haitian Baptist leaders, surveying earthquake damage, and delivering relief supplies.
A strong aftershock measuring 6.1 in magnitude struck Port-au-Prince at 6:03 a.m., Jan. 20, according to news reports. The shock sent people scrambling for open ground as buildings damaged by last week´s quake shuddered and rubble began falling to the ground. Eyewitnesses said people already traumatized by the horrors of the past week cried and screamed at the new tremor. More than 40 significant aftershocks have hit since the Jan. 12 quake.
Members of the assessment team reported they did not feel the aftershock at their base in the Dominican Republic. However, Steve Leach, a member of Round Grove Baptist Church in Miller, Mo., who operates an independent hospital in northwest Haiti, reported the aftershock "brought down some of the damaged buildings that were still standing and will keep anyone from going back to what buildings are still standing for many days to come. With so many severe aftershocks over the last week and now another new quake, who knows when people who have a place to go will feel safe to return there."
Leach said about 1,200 refugees have come to the hospital for treatment and he has been sending trucks into the capital to look for survivors with family who live near the hospital. "We live in a place that is about as far from the capital as you can get and still be in Haiti and yet we have watched these very poor people trying desperately to figure out a way to get their family members out here so they can take care of them,"Leach said. "The truck drivers are less and less willing to [drive into the city] as the situation in Port deteriorates."
Relief efforts are struggling to get essential relief supplies to hundreds of thousands of desperate people, but destroyed infrastructure and disorganization are hampering the effort. Officials are concerned that the desperation people feel will boil over into violence. Looters by the hundreds have been fighting each other with broken bottles, clubs and other weapons over whatever goods they can still find in damaged stores. "Pray specifically for God to give those in control wisdom to direct the relief effort," Leach said.
January 20, 12:00 p.m.
The Haiti Mission team is back in Oviedo and getting their feet back on the ground. We want to thank everyone for the support you gave to our team through prayer. We felt it and it made a difference! We also want to thank those involved in the tireless effort made for our evacuation.
Continue to pray for Haiti and the huge need that lies ahead both physically and spiritually. Pray also for New Missions as their entire compound will have to be rebuilt. Rejoice in the fact that because of the structure set up by New Missions, ministry continues as each one of the 22 school/church complexes runs as an independent entity.
Rejoice also in the offering from Sunday, January 17, for Haiti relief that was $11,076.88.
January 15, 12:30 p.m.
Praise God! Our Haiti Mission Team (and the entire team and missionaries from New Missions) has been evacuated and they are in the air as of 12 noon today, January 15. They are headed to an Air Force base in the Dominican Republic where there will be a 737, scheduled to leave today from Ft. Lauderdale, to pick them up and bring them home. We praise God for His amazing protection and provision for each and every team member.
Rick Ray, Executive Pastor
First Baptist Oviedo
Friday, January 15, 12:00 p.m.
There is a lot of misinformation being communicated about our team's situation from Facebook postings and other brief calls or occasional messages through third parties. I want to clear the air and give you the very latest news that we have.
I have been working all week in close tandem with the New Missions office (they are the ones that our team is working with on the ground in Haiti). I have also been in close communications with the State Department and Congressman Mica's office. Mica has been doing a fantastic job of being our team's advocate with the State Department and with the military. I have also been in close communication with the Executive Pastor at FIrst Baptist Orlando who is on the New Missions Board of Directors and has a 15 year-old daughter on this trip. The First Academy, First Baptist Orlando's Christian school has 38 there with our team at the New Missions compound. FIrst Baptist Orlando's Executive Pastor is also a longtime personal friend and has been very helpful and involved in all of the ongoing planning. So, if you hear something from an unofficial source, take it with a grain of salt. As people will do, in a vacuum of information, speculation and rumors will tend to flourish. We have tried to only send out a communique' when we have heard from a reliable source. This is what we will continue to do as we monitor the situation through all our friends and advocates.
Here is what we know right now at mid- morning on Friday. Last night, (Thursday evening) our team was told to get ready for an imminent evacuation. We cannot confirm where the message originated but believe it was from military sources. Choppers were on their way last night to airlift our team (always inclusive of both our team of six and The First Academy friends as well). Within one mile of the compound they received new orders and had to pull back. While that is dissapointing, it is certainly understandable. As we watch the horror of what is unfolding in the Haitian capital, information is fluid and piecemeal.
The military's priorities are first to the wounded and second to those in harm's way. Apparently they received some new information which changed the priority of the rescue plan for our team.
TODAY we are being told from our sources that the military is hopeful to send a rescue team to the New Missions compound. A rescue team will be comprised of choppers because our group cannot reach the air strip. The roads between where they are and the airport are totally destroyed. Further if you saw the news even from today, the airport is totally inundated with hopeful evacuees who are desperate to get out. So, choppers are the only realistic means by which our team will be evacuated. We are being told that there is a plan to evacuate them today. This is only a plan and while the plan is in the works, it is still just a plan and susceptible to change. We cannot confirm that the rescue will happen today. We can only confirm that there is a plan in place today to get them out.
The most reliable and accurate place to get your news is right here and on our Facebook page. I will post the latest news that can be confirmed as soon as I get it.
My first responsibility is to the family members of our team. We are trying to give them what news we have before we post it on our webpage or Facebook page. Continue to pray for the safe return of all our team members. They are Duane More, Josh Felix, Gary and Stephanie Bowers, Debbie Lynn and Barry Edwards our Team Leader and First Baptist Oviedo's Minister of Children.
Rick Ray, Executive Pastor
First Baptist Oviedo
Thursday, January 14, 10:05 a.m.
Thursday, January 14, 7:51 a.m.
Speaking with the State Department a few minutes ago, the State Department has forwarded the New Missions roster to the Embassy in Port-au-Prince for follow-up and cross referencing. As you know, there are many, many missionaries working in Haiti at any given time and they have heard from many organizations around the country. So they want to get an accurate accounting if you will. Also, because the Orlando group is outside the city and presumed safe with regard to earthquake damage and injuries, authorities are rather forced to concentrate on rescue efforts within the heavily damaged areas.As more teams and resources from American government, military and NGOs arrive in the country, I think we will begin to see more efforts to reach further out of Port-au-Prince attend to your group. So while I regret that it looks like they will have to spend another night there, please know that we will continue to monitor the situation, communicate with the State Department, and keep the New Missions group high on their radar screen.
Wednesday, January 13, 7:50 p.m.
As government assistance facilities are hastily organized, it is difficult to receive definitive information relating to specific operations. However, as of 6:30 p.m. this evening, we have confirmed that the State Department´s Haiti Earthquake Task Force operating in Haiti has all of the names and the location coordinates of the 44 members of the New Missions contingent still in Haiti.
We have not received any new information from authorities relating to plans and timetable for evacuating the students and chaperons at the New Mission. However, we are informed that some evacuations of Americans in Haiti have already begun. We have also confirmed that the Coast Guard received the GPS/location information you provided to us in time for the coast-wise reconnaissance flight that your people observed earlier this afternoon.
Additionally we are advised that while Port-au-Prince air traffic control tower was destroyed, the airport runway is functional and traffic control is being conducted from a tower on a nearby Coast Guard vessel. No commercial flights are operating. But we are informed that some evacuees are being transported to Santo Domingo for transfer to commercial aircraft.As additional details come in, be assured we will forward them to you.
Wednesday, January 13, 6:30 p.m.
Today several staff members spent the entire day working tirelessly by making calls, sending emails and even Facebook messages attempting to arrange a way to get our team out of Haiti. We were in contact with our friends at the International Missions Board, North American Missions Board, New Missions (with whom our team is serving in Haiti), the Baptist Global Response, Florida Baptist Convention, First Baptist Orlando, numerous pilots and missionaries and even the US State Department. We continued to hit dead ends being told over and over that the airspace over Haiti and the seas that surround the country are restricted to military air and sea craft. Meanwhile, we also did our very best to keep the families of our mission team members abreast with the best information we had on the situation and any developments. Thankfully, New Missions has been able to post photos, videos and many messages via Facebook and Twitter ensuring us that the team is safe and doing well.
As we worked desperately to find an exit plan for our team, we were finally told by Congressman John Mica's office that they too had been working on rescue plans for the New Missions group for the better part of the day. They confirmed they knew the location of New Missions, and Rusty Roberts, Mica's Senior Aide, told us that a Coast Guard plane had just buzzed the compound to let them know that the military knew their location (watch the flyover).
Josh Felix, one of our team members, said they were being told that the airlift could be as soon as tomorrow (Thursday); however, Mica's office would not confirm that date. The team will be airlifted by helicopter perhaps to Santo Domingo, capital of Dominican Republic, and will there safely board a jet home to Orlando. The Dominican Republic is one of the United States' strong allies in the Caribbean.
We give thanks that all our team is safe and as you can see by the videos posted, seem to be in great spirits and having fun. Let's continue to pray for the completion of their safe return.
Rick Ray, Executive Pastor
First Baptist Oviedo
Wednesday, January 13, 12:30 p.m.
Staff of the Florida Baptist Convention is diligently working on a response effort to assist the people of Haiti who were affected by the 7.3 earthquake that shook the impoverished island nation on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.
We are calling upon all Florida Baptists to remember in prayer the people of Haiti who were suffering even before this latest disaster struck. Also please be in prayer for the 890 Baptist churches affiliated with the Florida Baptist State Convention and their nearly 60,000 members who have directly been affected by this natural disaster.
Secondly, the Florida Baptist Convention's response efforts will require financial resources to secure foodstuffs and humanitarian assistance. Florida Baptists and their churches can contribute directly to the Florida Baptist Convention. Every dollar donated will be used solely for this purpose. At this time we can only accept financial resources.
The Florida Baptist Convention has an assessment team that is ready to go into Haiti just as soon as transportation can be arranged. The team will determine where foodstuffs and other commodities can be shipped, stored and distributed. Then the team will assess damage to Convention-owned property and the churches that comprise the Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d' Haiti (CMBH).
The Florida Baptist Convention, which has had a 15-year missions partnership with Haitian Baptists, employs six native Haitian missionaries who are expected to provide information on the needs to which the Florida Baptist Convention can respond. No other Southern Baptist entity has missionary personnel in the country or the experience in responding to disaster relief in Haiti as had the Florida Baptist Convention.
You can donate directly through First Baptist Oviedo and we will ensure that all Haiti relief funds are directed solely to the Florida Baptist Convention for this purpose. If donating online, please be sure that you specify it is for Haiti Relief.
We will be collecting a special offering on Sunday, January 17, to send to the Florida Baptist Convention for Haiti relief.