South Bend, IN – Local churches are making a big step to reach out to the Western Hemisphere. Soon, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where significant public education, social services, or medical care are not readily available and with high unemployment rate of 60 to 80 percent, will be receiving a bus filled with school supplies, pharmaceuticals, tools, and 100 new tennis shoes, all donated by different companies and organizations such as Walt-Mart, Merrill Pharmacy, and Dollar General.
The Haiti project outgrew from Melvin Coil and his wife Wilma, when they heard about the situation of Haiti from Yvan Pierre, a young Haitian who was studying at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky and now the founder and director of a nondenominational organization, The International Christian Development Mission (ICDM). Coil is the volunteer staff head for Pastoral Care at the Gospel Center Missionary Church in South Bend who used to serve as a pastor for 16 years at Missionary Church in LaGrange. The bus is donated by members of Gospel Center. Coil and Wayne Porter, a member of the New Life Church in Osceola, will drive the ban to Orlando, Fla., and from there the bus will be sent to Haiti.
Other church members, forming as a team, are also heading to Haiti to help with other projects there. Additional team members from this area are Verna and Phil Smith of Elkhart and Diane Leach of Edwardsburg. There also are volunteers from Florida and Kentucky churches. They will leave to Haiti Jan. 19 and return Jan. 29.
During those 10 days, the members will perform various projects to help Haiti. They will help out at some of the eight schools in Haiti now operated by ICDM and finish construction of the House of Hope in the small village of Bayonnais, a ministry center where volunteers can stay.
“These public schools are conducted in churches and sometimes just out under trees,” Coil said, “Otherwise the children would not be given any other instruction, because of almost total lack of schools there."