By Carl Stagner
As political tensions increase and vital resources become scarce, Haiti’s social conditions continue to decline. With an end to the volatile situation nowhere in sight, the safety and health of the country’s citizens is a chief concern of the church and broader community. In the midst of chaos, the hospital of the Church of God in Saintard (St. Ard) is staying the course, even while limited in staff and function. Global Strategy missionaries Mark and Kathy Fulton, who also work at the hospital, remain stateside, unable to return to their beloved brothers and sisters via routes now considered impassable. They provide the latest information with insight on how the Church of God outside Haiti can best support the Church of God within.
“The civil unrest in the country has negatively affected the ability of the hospital to function,” Mark explains. “Our staff cannot traverse the roads. The patients are fearful and often unable to travel to the facility.”
To keep the emergency room operating, the hospital had to reduce staff. Supplies are hard to find, limiting the hospital’s capabilities. Operation of the outpatient clinic was suspended, and daily patient visits have decreased from more than a hundred to fewer than ten. The strain is also financial, with 40 percent of monthly operating funds normally coming from the hospital’s low patient fees. Mark and Kathy have been in daily contact with hospital administration, staying in-the-know and offering encouragement. They couldn’t be more impressed with the local staff who run the hospital. Their tenacity and perseverance are being tested now like it hasn’t in years.
“The missional model that we follow for the hospital is that it is entirely indigenously staffed,” Mark explains. “The management and staffing of the hospital by our sixty-four-member Haitian staff allows it to function in our absence. Our job is to empower, providing continuing education and supplies for the very capable Haitian staff.”
Of course, this doesn’t make it much easier on Mark and Kathy, whose hearts break for the Haitian people. These missionaries long to be “at home” in Haiti, where God has called them, especially when circumstances are difficult. In fact, their bags are packed and ready to go as soon as they get the green light.
The last time Mark and Kathy left Haiti for the United States, they had to leave early in the morning, navigating around roadblocks and signs of civil unrest. Sadly, the situation in Haiti continued to devolve while stateside, and the missionaries have not yet been able to return. “The decline of social conditions in Haiti,” Mark explains, “have been evident rumored and noticed over the last year or so, as inflation ramped up, governmental corruption was revealed, and shortages of necessary items became evident… During these trying times, we communicate pretty much daily with someone from the hospital staff to assess and to determine how to sustain daily operations.”
Global Strategy will continue to monitor crisis in Haiti and updates will be made available. In the meantime, the prayers of the Movement are invaluable. Mark offers some suggestions to guide our prayers.
“We pray that we can continue to function during these very difficult times, and the financial support now is even more crucial,” Mark explains. “When this crisis passes, and eventually it will, the general populous will probably need to be supported in a relief mode for a time, until we can return to development mode, growing a sustainable business and ministry in the Church of God hospital. We pray for a quick resolution to the unrest so lives can be saved and the life of the average Haitian can return to normal.”
Mark and Kathy Fulton have served as Global Strategy missionaries to Haiti since July 2014, but their dedication to the Haitians have taken them there several times a year since 1993.
Thank you for your prayers for Haiti, the Church of God there, the hospital, and missionaries Mark and Kathy Fulton. Learn more about the Haiti hospital at https://www.chogglobal.org/haitihospital/.