Scott Zepplin, a member of First Baptist Church in Kingsland and board member of Baptists 4 Haiti, walks by the main building of Shiloh Baptist Church in Freeport on Grand Bahama island in the Bahamas. Damage from Hurricane Dorian has led to a partnership between Georgia Baptists and the church in its rebuild. Photo courtesy of Roland Norris
DULUTH — After Hurricane Dorian tore through the Bahamas in September, Shiloh Baptist Church in the city of Freeport surveyed damage just like everyone else.
Three of its buildings needed repaired. Nineteen homes of church members would join that list as well, many of them taking in 2-4 feet of water. Whether through a faulty generator or live electric cable, Pastor Leonard Pinder’s house burned down.
“Georgia Baptists have been asked to ‘adopt’ Shiloh Baptist Church,” said Stuart Lang, state Disaster Relief coordinator. “All of the immediate clean-up and recovery efforts have been completed and they are now ready for rebuild.”
The rebuild effort for Shiloh will include members of the church as well as Georgia Baptists under the coordination of Roland Norris.
Norris is a familiar name for those who have conducted mission trips to Haiti over the last seven years. After a massive earthquake devastated that country, Norris went there on a mission trip and established Baptists 4 Haiti. Last year he and his wife Mary were with a group of Georgia Baptists who were caught up in unrest of that country.
Norris has continued Baptists 4 Haiti, but agreed to help with the Bahamas relief outreach. Georgia Baptists wanting to contact him directly can do so through (912) 674-7649 or email@example.com.
“The extent of repairs range,” he said. “Roofing as well as lot of sheetrock work will need to be done because homes took in up to four feet of water.”
Pastor Pinder has been living with his son since his home burned down, he told The Index. Though the church building sustained some roof damage, most of it was to members’ homes who live close by. Currently Shiloh is meeting in a building the church had been in the process of constructing, though it, too, has a section of leaky roof.
“We could really use the help [to rebuild],” Pinder said. “It would greatly encourage and strengthen our people.”
How to volunteer, contribute
Norris said the most efficient method of transportation for teams would be the overnight cruise ships leaving from West Palm Beach, Florida. Those boats leave the Florida coast on Friday, arriving in Freeport the next morning. Teams can plan for returning the following Friday, once again by cruise ship.
Although grants from Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief and Baptist Global Response have helped in providing materials, Norris said more will be required.
“With the total rebuilding of Pastor Pinder’s home we anticipate needing more donations from churches and individuals,” he estimated.
To do so, go to the Donate section of Baptists 4 Haiti’s website and click on the “Donate with easyTithe” button in the center of the page. Then, in the drop-down menu under “Fund” choose “Bahama Rebuild.”
Volunteer teams will register through the Baptists 4 Haiti site. Individuals are asked to pay $575 to cover on-ground costs such as food, transportation, a cot, and work coordination. Transportation through a cruise line is expected to be approximately $250, bringing the total cost to less than $1,000.
Scott Barkley is editor of The Christian Index.