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Adventist Church President Jan Paulsen speaks to Haitian Adventists: 'Don't lose courage'

Adventist Church President Jan Paulsen speaks to Haitian Adventists: 'Don't lose courage'

Seventh-day Adventist world church President Jan Paulsen addressed the struggles church members in Haiti face, saying the church has not forgotten them. So far, donations for organizational rebuilding in Haiti exceed $1 million. [photo: Megan Brauner/ANN]

Church donations exceed $1 million; more to come, Paulsen says

January 20, 2010 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Mark A. Kellner, News Editor/Adventist Review with Megan Brauner/ANN

In a statement aired on the Seventh-day Adventist Church's television station, the Hope Channel, church President Jan Paulsen urged Haitians to not lose courage in the aftermath of the earthquake.

"Your brothers and sisters around the world, they think about you, they pray for you, they want to be involved and want you to know that they are your family," Paulsen said during the televised statement.

Paulsen's words came hours after a magnitude 6.1 aftershock struck Haiti, renewing anxiety among survivors.

"The scale of the suffering that has been inflicted on the nation and the people [of Haiti] is unimaginable," Paulsen said. "We want to be involved, we want to participate and show our sense of brotherhood with the people of Haiti." Paulsen added that every church member has something to contribute, whether it's money or service.

Paulsen urged Adventists to encourage their children to participate in aiding the Haitian community.

"Tell your children about this -- help your children to discover that even in these tragedies that we share humanity," he said. "When something happens anywhere in the world on this scale ... we have a responsibility."

Paulsen concluded by saying his hope and prayer was that "the future of Haiti be better than its past."

Relief agencies estimate that 200,000 people may have died as a result of the January 12 earthquake.

Reports about deaths among Adventist Church members in Haiti are still trickling in, said Orville Parchment, assistant to Paulsen.

Parchment said two choirs were practicing in a church when the earthquake struck. Fourteen bodies were found, but the number of survivors is still uncertain, he said.

Children at an Adventist school in Haiti escaped their collapsing building when they ran outside to investigate a loud noise, Parchment said. He added that while no children were reported dead, one janitor was trapped and killed in the school when the quake hit.

Structural damage to Adventist property includes numerous churches and the church-run hospital and university.

The Adventist world church is raising money to help with organizational recovery, leadership said. Earlier this week, the world church administrative committee voted a donation of $200,000 to help rebuild churches and other facilities. The North American region voted to send $600,000 to Haiti, with other local offices in North America adding at least $175,000.

After his televised comments, Paulsen added that he had spoken with the president for the church in Inter-America, Israel Leito, about the total church donations so far.

'The donations have exceeded $1 million," Paulsen said during an interview with Adventist News Network. "This is specifically for church recovery, and there is more to come from other divisions. [The Adventist Development and Relief Agency] works with even hands to help everyone, but this donation is given specifically to our churches in Haiti. It signifies how intensely our church family feels about the situation."

A special offering will be collected February 6 in North American congregations for Haitian church relief, said Fred Kinsey, communication director for the church in North America.

Other world regions plan to hold their own offerings for Haiti, church leaders said.

Update:

Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders in Haiti reported 522 church members were killed by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the capital last week. More than 55 churches were destroyed, 60 churches partially damaged and some 27,000 church members left homeless in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

Dr. Elie Honore, health ministries director for the church in Inter-America, said the Adventist Hospital in Port-au-Prince is in need of orthopedic surgeons and anesthesiologists. To volunteer, contact Honore at honore@interamerica.org.

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