Sometimes, an entire church seems to operate with a heart for one or two specific ministries. Ross Road MB Church in Abbotsford, B.C., with its long-running ministry to kids from Haiti, is one of those churches.
Eighteen years ago, Doug and Glenda Reimer of Ross Road (then known as Aldergrove MB) were moved to adopt a Haitian child, adding to their existing family. Daughter Andrea Krahn says she ended up with five siblings from Haiti by the time she left her parents’ home. Krahn now coordinates the program started by her parents.
“The church family has accepted and welcomed Haitian children,” she says. “Our church is really, really involved.”
Centre of support
A network to support Haitian kids, educate them, and, in some cases, bring them to Canada by adoption extends far beyond Ross Road, but the church is a key centre of support.
After the “boys’ and girls’ homes” in Haiti that Krahn works to support suffered major hurricane damage this season, Ross Road members began fundraising to provide repairs and replace a truck. One couple in the church dedicated two nights’ revenue from their restaurant operations after a special appeal to patrons raised $25,000 to help pay the bills from the hurricane.
“Because of voodoo and other religious practices, people say Haiti is a country that was dedicated to the devil,” says Krahn. “But God is at work there.”
Ross Road members do their best to help that restorative process – and it involves many groups within this mid-sized community church. In addition to ongoing fundraising to educate and clothe children in Haiti, Ross Road’s junior programs provide pencils and supplies for children in the orphanage. The youth group cooperated with a gifted seamstress in the church on a project to send 80 backpacks, made of old denim, to Haitian kids. Each backpack was decorated with the name of the recipient child.
Adoptions in process
As many couples at Ross Road have done, pastor James Penner and wife Trish decided to adopt a Haitian toddler, to “at least make a difference for this one child.” Aulain, now one-and-a-half years old, is living in an orphanage outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In September, Penner undertook a weekend bike ride to raise funds for the adoption.
Six couples at Ross Road are currently attempting to adopt orphaned Haitian children. Eight couples are already parenting Haitian youngsters. Over the past 18 years, Ross Road families have taken in 35 children from Haiti. Some of those children are now adults and others are in Ross Road’s youth programs.
The costs of adoption can run up to $17,000. With the $6,000 brought in by Penner’s 24-hour cyclathon, the Penners’ fundraising total is $10,700 at press time, enabling them to move forward in the adoption process, both in Canada and in Haiti.
With 35 Haitian kids knowing Jesus’ love, and six more adoptions pending, Ross Road MB Church’s Haitian ministry is, literally, a home mission, opening Ross Road’s homes and hearts as a set of living testimonies to Jesus’ love.