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Missionaries plan to help earthquake victims

FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: January 15, 2010 at 4:25 am •  Published: January 15, 2010
Some Oklahomans doing mission work said they hope to travel to Haiti this week and provide emergency assistance.

Jake Lenhart, a youth pastor at Cherokee Hills Christian Church in Oklahoma City, said he hopes to travel with Christian Service International Ministries.

Lenhart’s family already planned to move to Haiti this summer to work as missionaries. He and his wife, Tiffanie, a registered nurse, have two biological children and an 8-year-old son who was adopted two years ago from Haiti.

The living conditions in Haiti were dire before the earthquake, he said.

"The average person makes $2 a day, half the adults are illiterate and 80 percent are unemployed,” he said. "There’s no fire departments, no first response teams, no FEMA. There’s nothing.”

Matt Bennett, director of People to People Ministries, planned to travel to the Dominican Republic today, in hopes of driving into Haiti, where the ministry operates 50 International Pentecostal Holiness Churches and seven schools.

"We’ve learned that our staff is OK, but the country is just in devastation,” he said. "The country was already in a terrible state, and it’s hard to imagine what’s happening now.”

Bennett urged Oklahomans to donate to organizations responding to the disaster.

"There are many organizations, some right here in Oklahoma City, that are helping, that have always helped in Haiti that will need additional resources at this time,” he said.

‘Lost my heart in Haiti’
Missionary Wayne Ray of Paden looks at the images of Haiti not only with his eyes, but with his heart.

It’s a heart, Ray said, he lost in the impoverished Caribbean nation more than 30 years ago.

At the invitation of a minister in Haiti, Ray made a visit to the country.

"I lost my heart in Haiti in 1979 when I saw little kids with swollen bellies,” he said, "and hair that should be black but instead had a rusty, copper look.”

Ray’s Missionary Outreach Inc. has 37 churches, many schools — including some in very remote areas — and five orphanages. He oversees five directors, who are ministers, and they in turn have several teachers they oversee. Ray is in Oklahoma now but was supposed to be in Haiti. "Some things” came up and delayed his return, he said.

He travels to Haiti about three to four times a year for a week to 10 days. More stories / How to Help


Population: 9,035,536

Capital: Port-au-Prince

Languages: French; Creole

Geography: Caribbean; western one-third of the island of Hispaniola.



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