Sunday, February 21, 2010

Haiti: Hope in a bucket

Right now, Southern Baptists are being asked to fill “Buckets of Hope” that will be sent to Haiti in the coming months. “Buckets of Hope” is not the only help that Southern Baptists are sending, but it is characteristic of the approach that the national and state Baptist mission organizations are taking. They seek to make sure that every single effort is carefully planned to meet real needs and to include a realistic strategy for delivery of help to the people in need. 

I have been reading of various volunteers who arrive in Haiti and become part of the problem through inexperience with disaster situations. There are also the stories about well-intentioned individuals starting drives to collect various items with no footwork done on what items are practical at this stage of recovery and how they will be transported. Money to reputable charities experienced in disaster situations still seems the best bet.

But people want the connection of giving something directly to those in need. The Baptist bucket campaign opens the opportunity for individuals and churches to provide hands-on help. If you are interested you can download at the North American Mission Board site packing directions, a list of specific food items to include and suggestions of some of the businesses that carry the five-gallon bucket and lid. The site even includes an inventory i.d. for the buckets at two chains – Wal-Mart and Ace Hardware. For shopping-challenged individuals like me, the more specific the better.

After Haitians use the supplies, the bucket will serve multiple uses for a family. The web sites I visited said a filled bucket could feed a Haitian family for a week, but I never could find what sized family! The buckets program and other planned short-term and long-term efforts include three facets:
- a spiritual element as well as physical help,
- assuring that volunteers are trained and prepared for both the spiritual and physical challenges of disaster relief, and
- working alongside Haitian Baptists to undergird the Haitian churches’ efforts in long-term recovery and in fulfilling their spiritual mission.

Even assembling a “bucket of hope” includes both spiritual and physical help. Instructions ask that before donors start to pack food in the bucket, they pray for the Haitian family that will receive the bucket. The late Wade Guice, Harrison County, MS, civil defense director when Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, noted in a program I attended many years ago that pastors and counselors were an overlooked resource that disaster-stricken areas needed. He recognized that the internal trauma and the grief following a disaster could be as devastating as experiencing  a brutal war or the death of a loved one. These days some people would have criticized him for making comments about faith while wearing his public official hat. But studies have shown he was right.

Questions about pickup and delivery of buckets should be directed to Southern Baptist churches in your area or your state's Southern Baptist Convention Board. Monetary donations, designated for “Buckets of Hope” on the check, may be sent to the Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32257. Haitian Baptist churches in Florida will use those donations to purchase buckets and fill them with food.

In Jackson County, MS, where I live, Ingalls Avenue Baptist in Pascagoula will serve as a drop-off site, and filled buckets should be delivered to the church March 8 - 10. Philip Price, director of missions for the county’s Baptist Association, said staff from Mississippi’s state convention will pick up and deliver to a national collection site all the buckets collected at Ingalls Avenue Baptist Church.

The Jackson County association is also inviting local Baptists – and anyone else who would be interested – to partner with Haitians to provide support for an orphanage whose building in the Port-au-Prince area was destroyed. Price said in a letter to local churches that Wade Baptist Church has supported the orphanage in the past and has already sent L. C. Drawdy, Wade associate pastor, to Haiti to meet with the Haitian pastor who is directing ministry to the more than 80 children that were cared for at the orphanage. While in Haiti, Drawdy and others helped secure a rental property to house the children. Price’s letter listed these immediate ways to help:
1.    Pray: Continue to pray for the relief efforts being undertaken by the Mississippi Baptist Convention (MBC). Medical teams are in Haiti now. Also, pray that the Lord would guide your church and the Jackson County Baptist Association (JCBA) to respond to the needs of this orphanage according to His will.
2.    Provide:  (a) Finances -- The orphanage needs to purchase beds, kitchen appliances, as well as tables and chairs. If you would like to make a donation toward fulfilling these needs, you may send funds marked “Haiti Missions” to Wade Baptist Church, 20623 Hwy. 63 Moss Point, MS 39562 or you may send the funds to JCBA, P. O. Box 1726, Pascagoula, Mississippi 39568, United States, for use toward fulfilling the association’s partnership commitments to Haiti. (b) Food – Assemble a “Bucket of Hope.”
3.    Prepare: As needs and opportunities are identified, Jackson County Baptists will need to respond as quickly as possible. Consequently, anyone interested in traveling to Haiti should acquire an up-to-date passport, inoculations (Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid Fever and Tetanus) and funding to be self-sustained while on the trip. Individuals planning to go on such a trip should anticipate primitive conditions.
4.    Participate: Make a commitment to partner with JCBA in making a difference in Haiti on some level. If you or your church wants to be part of a Haiti Mission Team, contact our office by phone or email me at You may access the latest updates on the Mississippi Baptist disaster response at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board site. Also, if your Jackson County church has a pre-existing connection to a church or ministry (orphanage, hospital, etc.) in Haiti, please share that information with the JCBA.

“Jackson County was the recipient of extraordinary relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina,” Price said. “Helping Haiti is a tangible way to express our gratitude to God for the acts of grace we received.” 


  1. What a great idea, to fill those buckets. Our church supports The
    Good Samaritan Project over in Haiti. It's a church, school, and orphanage. We've sent two loads of food, tarps, supplies, etc, and received word that they received it. We are currently in the middle of a fund raiser to help in other ways.

  2. Kathy, that is so good to hear.