Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A Zephyrhills church mission helps Haitians rebuild

The earthquake that devastated Haiti last year, killing more than 300,000 people and leaving 1.3 million homeless, claimed a spiritual casualty as well:

A church in Port-au-Prince that was built with help from a congregation in Zephyrhills.

So Pastor James Owens and members of the Love Worth Sharing International mission raised money last year to help the Haitians rebuild their sanctuary at Good Shepherd. They visited the impoverished nation last month to see the new church and start planning to rebuild the Good Shepherd school, which also collapsed in the magnitude 7 earthquake.

"(They're) just such a kind-hearted and sweet people that you just want to be there to help them," said Owens, who runs the mission program out of First Congregational Church of Zephyrhills.

Wooden benches, crafted by Zephyrhills church members and assembled by the Haitians, will provide the seating. The mission also provided money for a new stove so the Haitian congregation can cook, and is teaching the community how to raise some food themselves.

The mission has supported Haiti's Good Shepherd congregation for more than a decade, and Owens said people can see the impact their assistance makes. Children getting worm medication no longer have swollen bellies. And every month the mission wires money to Haiti for food. The children's hair, once tinged red because of malnutrition, is turning dark again.

"To see the results over the year, it's an encouragement to continue what you do," Owens said.

Zephyrhills church member Connie Kindred helps collect donations to send to Haiti. Clothing, soap and flip-flops in various sizes fill a large storage container.

"There's a multitude of things that go in that container, things that will help them just to live," she said.

The latest trip to Haiti, from March 7-11, was Owens' 15th visit. His interest in the country began in 1998 after he met a Haitian pastor at a conference and went down to see his work. He was drawn to the gentleness and warmth of the people he met there, and started slowly trying to help in any way he could — first by building a church, a food program and a school.

He said people there struggle to find work and make money to meet their daily needs. There are not enough government schools, he said, and most people don't have the money to send their children to private school.

"We just saw the need … providing education and raising up a Christian generation that has just been racked by one disaster after another," he said.

The mission provides funding and supplies for the school at Good Shepherd. The next step is to build a new schoolhouse. For months now, classes have been held in the church sanctuary.

"Right now people come in at 4 a.m. to pray, and school starts at 8 a.m.," Owens said.

The others who made last month's trip to Haiti were Owens' wife, Cindy, and mission members Jim Lafrinere and Ross Thompson.

This was Thompson's second trip to Haiti. He's also been to Cambodia.

He said he fell in love with the people of Haiti.

"I realized on this trip that they love me, too," he said, holding back tears. "They just don't have anything that they can depend on day to day, and they know that they can depend on us."

The mission provides someone who consistently prays for them, comes to them, provides financial support.

"You think you're helping, and you are," Thompson said, but you also "receive a huge blessing of your own."

For others who are unsure of whether a mission trip is for them, he said, "If they believe it's God's call in life, they should trust God and go."

Owens had asked Thompson to join the church board, and his first trip in October was required. The last one was by choice.

"Wild horses couldn't keep me away now," Thompson said.

fast facts

About the mission

For photos, videos and information about the Love Worth Sharing missions to Haiti, visit www.loveworthsharingintl.org.

About this series

"Faith in Motion" is a regular feature about an individual or group doing something inspiring in the course of a spiritual journey. Story ideas are welcomed, via e-mail. Send them to Mindy.Rubenstein@yahoo.com.

A Zephyrhills church mission helps Haitians rebuild 04/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 2:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois

    Blogs

    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

  2. What to watch this weekend: 'GLOW,' second season of 'Preacher'

    Blogs

    Ready to rumble: GLOW

    Four words: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Yes, the fluorescent, body-slamming soap opera GLOW starring a cast of exaggerated characters is back, this time as a fictionalized Netflix series. Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men) stars as Ruth, a down-on-her-luck actor …

    Alison Brie, left, and Betty Gilpin in GLOW on Netflix.
  3. Exploratory Lab Boot Camp provides real-life technology training to students

    Science

    CLEARWATER — At this graduation ceremony featuring some of the brightest local minds in tech, it was the youngsters who stood out.

    Laszlo Leedy, 17, a senior at Shorecrest Prep, presents part of his team's project for SPC's Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. Students presented their ideas at the end of the SPC Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. The program provides real-time business training to students. This year's graduation celebrated 15 students that finished the program. 
[JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. Editorial: Trump, not military, should set troop levels in Afghanistan

    Editorials

    There is no task more solemn for any American president than the decision to send troops off to war. In delegating authority over troops levels in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, President Donald Trump has shirked his obligation to own and defend his Afghan policy, while further divorcing America's military strategy there …

  5. North Korea says it's 'biggest victim' in U.S. student's death (w/video)

    World

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Friday called itself the "biggest victim" in the death of an American student who was detained for more than a year and died days after being released in a coma.

    Mourners line the street after the funeral of Otto Warmbier, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio. Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, died this week, days after returning to the United States. [Associated Press]