ALEX CITY, AL (WSFA) - A number of churches are planning mission trips to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in the coming weeks, including one church with a unique connection to the island nation. Faith Temple in Alexander City has sent mission groups to Haiti since the mid-1990's. But members say their next trip will be their most important yet.
It was in 2001 when a missions group from the church built Bella Fortune School in Darbonne, an area of the country not far from the earthquake's epicenter.
"When we heard about the earthquake and found out it was in the area where we visited, we were interested in the fate of the school we built there," said Pastor Dick Stark.
Then, last week, Stark got an email confirming the worst -- the school had been destroyed and at least four children and one teacher had died.
So Faith Temple is planning another mission trip in early February. The first goal will be providing medical assistance to quake victims. Then the process of rebuilding will begin.
"[We'll be] putting up temporary shelters," Stark said. "Even if their homes are still standing, many don't want to go back in those homes."
The group will also help build an open-air pavilion to serve as a temporary replacement to the school they built nine years ago.
"This is not just an academic pursuit for us, we are promoting Jesus Christ," explained Stark. "They were not just losing an academic connection, they were also losing a spiritual connection."
It won't all happen in one trip. And it will take more than one church to make a difference. That's why Stark says he hopes the disaster prompts other organizations to step up and help as well.
"There is a great need in Haiti without a natural disaster. The natural disaster has just amplified the need," he said.
For updates, check out Faith Temple's web site.
And Faith Temple is certainly not alone in its pursuits. Church groups from all over the country are planning similar trips to help the earthquake victims.