Local missionaries to Haiti seek aid
By Carrie A. Mizell
Having survived the January 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti, missionaries Richard and Beverly Felmey have returned home to Gilchrist County to seek relief for the Haitian people they have come to love.
The catastrophic earthquake, with a magnitude estimated at 7.0, was a first for both Richard and Beverly.
“We always thought that it would be like a shaking feeling,” Beverly said. “It was not. It was like being in a small row boat on a rough sea. It literally lifted and swayed not only us, but also the two-story house and our vehicle, up and down and back and forth.”
The Felmeys recall looking around their home and noting that everything seemed okay. Forty thousand people live in their village of Montrouis, which is northwest of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. According to the Felmeys, two people were killed and two homes collapsed in their village, which is comprised of mostly Christians.
Since the earthquake, the population of Montrouis has tripled due to the large number of evacuees fleeing the city of Port-au-Prince. The overflow of people is causing Montrouis and many other villages in Haiti to run out of precious resources.
“We had many in our village that were in Port-au-Prince during the quake that have perished; about 15 to date,” Beverly said. “A lot of mourning is going on right now.”
The Felmeys said they always pray for God to lay His hand of protection on them and He certainly did on the day the earthquake rocked Haiti.
On Monday, Jan. 11, the day before the earthquake, the Felmeys received a phone call letting them know that the tractor they had been waiting on had been offloaded from the container they were expecting and they needed to go to the port right away and pick it up.
Richard, along with six others from the village, left for Port-au-Prince right away and spent over an hour on the docks before returning home long after dark. While on the docks, they were told that they would have to come back on Tuesday morning to retrieve the rest of their contents. Richard told officials on the docks that he would be there by 10 a.m., but they told him ‘no,’ he had to be there by 8 a.m.
According to Beverly, Richard fussed a bit about having to get up before 4:30 a.m. the next morning, but gave in knowing it would probably be best. The group made the long trip back to Port-au-Prince on Tuesday morning and returned home to their village later in the afternoon, just two hours before the quake hit 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince.
Fueled by the shock and suffering they witnessed in Haiti, the Felmeys returned to the United States last week with a fierce resolve to do all they can to aid the people of Haiti. In less than a week, the couple raised $15,000. They were also able to contact Dewey Painter, Sr., president of Mission Harvest America, a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization based in Jacksonville. According to Beverly, Painter has a huge warehouse and 80 twenty-foot containers ready to go to Haiti with relief supplies.
“They have about $100,000 worth of relief for $6,000,” Beverly explained. “This includes contents and shipping costs.”
On Tuesday, the Felmeys went to Jacksonville to handpick their own container. They plan to get it sent off to Haiti as soon as they can.
The Felmeys say they will be going back to Haiti as soon as commercial airlines open return flights into Port-au-Prince, which will hopefully be within three to four weeks.
“Our Haitian staff is capable and in charge while we are stateside,” Beverly said. “Please continue to pray for us and for Haiti, that God will bless our steps. Pray that God will get as much relief back into Haiti as soon as possible.”
God first led the couple to Haiti in 1998. When the Felmeys returned to the United States after that brief mission trip, they felt led to start a ministry in the poor nation.
“These loving people inspired us,” Beverly said. “We could not leave Haiti behind.”
Feed My Sheep Ministries was soon formed. The Felmeys explained that the primary goal of their ministry is to share the love of Jesus Christ, while teaching the people of Haiti to become disciples of Him in their own land.
Richard called Bell home for 30 years, and Beverly moved to Gilchrist County 14 years ago when the couple married. Despite spending much of their lives in the United States, the couple said making the transition to living in Haiti was always a joy even though the couple had to learn to speak the Creole language to communicate with the Haitians.
Today, their mission consists of two academic Christian mission schools. One of the schools has 50 students, while the other hosts 420 students. The couple also has a tree nursery, vocational training center, and a medical clinic.
“We sponsor four churches,” Beverly said. “This has been a very fruitful ministry and we’ve been blessed with many lost souls won to Christ as a result.”
The Felmeys reside in Haiti full-time September through June. While back in the United States, the couple attends First United Methodist of High Springs, where they are members. Prior to joining the First United Methodist of High Springs, Richard was a member of Bethel Baptist Church for 18 years.
The outpouring of support the Felmeys have received so far from these local churches, as well as people throughout the community who have heard about their mission, has been greatly appreciated.
When asked what their hope for the people of Haiti is, the Felmeys said, “That they not continue to be the ‘Forgotten Nation.’ Along with the world’s charity, they need a fair opportunity in the world market to be able to export goods and produce from Haiti, especially bananas and mangos. This alone would make a major change in their economy. Unfortunately, these doors have been closed for many years and have a great deal to do with the reason they are the poorest nation in the western hemisphere and possibly the poorest in the world.”
To help Feed My Sheep Ministries aid the people of Haiti, visit http://www.feedmysheep-ministries.org/ or mail donations to Feed My Sheep Ministries, P.O. Box 341 Bell, Florida 32619.