For Houston residents David and Darlene Gourley, the pictures from Haiti bring heartache for a country they know well. The Gourleys have a 30-year relationship with the earthquake-torn area.
David Gourley’s first mission trip occurred in 1978 and made a big impact on his life as he saw the tremendous needs of the impoverished country. It was during that visit that he met missionaries John and Joyce Hanson with International Missions Outreach (IMO). The next year, David Gourley Ministries donated funds to build a church and later a school on property purchased in the village of Cassis, which is about 48 miles from Port-au-Prince. Today, the church has more than 400 people who attend with more than 200 students in school. It is supported monthly by David Gourley Ministries.
The Gourleys say it not known the degree of damage occurred to the church and school. Several other International Missions Outreach churches and schools were completely destroyed or received severe damage. The Gourleys receive frequent updates from the IMO’s United States office and also from the Hansons in Haiti. David Gourley has served on the advisory board of IMO for the past 15 years, and the Gourleys have led many work teams of ministers, nurses and doctors to Haiti.
International Missions Outreach is a non-denominational organization that ministers to Haitians through building 43 churches, 175 brush arbor outstations (with a total membership of 113,000); 18 elementary schools with more than 5,000 students and medical clinics with more than 10,000 people served annually. IMO has a three-year Bible school for pastors that has graduated 8,000 students since it started. The work is funded by churches and individuals throughout the United States. Several churches in the Ozarks, including Souls Harbor Family Worship in Houston, support the ministry of International Missions Outreach.
The Gourleys say reports coming from John Hanson describe the utter devastation in Haiti. “It was mass confusion as people were running and screaming. Many of the buildings in Port-au-Prince were destroyed, along with the President’s National Palace.” The majority of IMO’s 218 workers lost their homes.
Hansons gave out all of the food, water and other supplies they had on the mission compound. After three weeks, they began receiving shipments of food, water and medicine to aid efforts.
Other churches in the county are also involved in sending aid to the people of Haiti, taking special offerings and gathering up donations of much-needed items.
Houston resident Sam Yarnall spent three years during two tours in Haiti working in Haggar’s ladies wear sewing division, where about 1,000 operators worked and shipped about 30,000 – 40,000 garments weekly.
Yarnall has anxiously watched developments in the poor country, where workers earn about 15 cents per hour. He says about 80 percent of the population is 14 years of age or younger.
The roof of one factory in Carrefour collapsed, killing 500 of the 1,000 in the building. Where Yarnall stayed – an apartment in the Hotel Montana – the building fell, killing many of those inside.
Haggar’s plant near the airport is back in operation, he said.