Areas: Caribbean: Haiti: History of AC Outreach
In the early 1960’s. Brother Henry Beer visited a mission outpost in Jeremy, Haiti, through an acquaintance, Robert Rocourt, from Wenona Lake, Indiana. At about the same time, Brother John Wagler and his wife, Sister Ann, went to Haiti and worked at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital as gardeners and ran an orchard. Through the connections established by both groups, others began supporting Albert Schweitzer and Grace Children’s Hospital with material aid.
Two brothers from Francesville and two brothers from Bluffton accompanied the first shipment of cattle which was sent through the Heifer Project to Albert Schweitzer Memorial Hospital in Haiti on February 18, 1965. This shipment consisted of eight purebred Holstein heifers and one registered Holstein bull. In 1969 Brothers George Bruellman and Herman Norr became involved in organizing shipments of animals, grain, clothes and some medical supplies through other organizations, like Heifer Project, CARE (Cooperative American Relief Everywhere) and Mennonite Central Committee.
Word spread about the aid being supplied through the Heifer Project, CARE, and the Mennonite Central Committee; and a growing number of brethren from our churches began to support these organizations. These individual charitable activities generated further discussion within the church leadership and raised awareness relative to the malnutrition, poverty, and starvation in Haiti.
Work team projects began in 1982 when a number of other brothers within the Apostolic Christian Church became aware of the extent of poverty in Haiti and had the opportunity to join a work team through World Team mission to help on construction projects in Southern Haiti. According to records that were kept in 1983, approximately 17 volunteers labored on various projects supporting the poor in Haiti. More than 2,000 volunteers participated in World Relief work supporting the poor between 1983 and 2000.
In 1986-87 two brothers learned of an organization called MEBSH, (Missionary Evangelical Baptist of Southern Haiti) and went to Haiti to become more acquainted with their work and to learn how the Apostolic Christian Church could help. In 1988, five brothers traveled to Haiti and met with leaders of MEBSH. MEBSH was already involved in reaching out to the poor both spiritually and with physical resources, specifically building schools and sponsoring student education. However, they had identified great financial and material needs that they were unable to supply. The Apostolic Christian Church realized that they could supplement the work by providing material aid, financial support, and volunteers to help put roofs on schools and build school desks. Bob Stewart was the initial missionary with World Team who coordinated the work for volunteers on construction projects with MEBSH. In 1998, Ron and Linnea Shick took over the MEBSH construction department when Bob Stewart retired.
In 2005, Jan and Val Gutwein (Tess, Alisha, Mark, Derek, Brett, Joel) moved to Haiti to provide full-time assistance to the MEBSH Construction Department. In 2006, ACWR was approached and asked to assume full responsibility for the construction department. After much prayerful consideration, the Caribbean Committee moved forward believing God had opened a door of opportunity in Haiti. Because of ACWR’s new responsibility over the Construction Department, it became necessary to send another family to serve there. Tim and Joan Reinhard (Sarah, Bethany, Hannah, Gabriel, Faith) moved to Haiti in 2006. In 2008, Sheila Moser joined the two families in Haiti.