Aid efforts for Haiti amid natural disasters, political turmoil

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
People on a street in Haiti. Credit: WINK News

The FBI and State Department are on the hunt for a Haitian gang holding 17 missionaries hostage, and a Southwest Florida ministry group could have easily ended up in the same situation.

Reciprocal Ministries International, headquartered in Lehigh Acres, has a history of going to Haiti for mission trips. In fact, Daniel Shoemaker, the president of Reciprocal Ministries, was there just three weeks ago and plans for the group to take a pair of trips back in November and December, but they are going to wait and see what the situation is before they go ahead with those plans.

Shoemaker was born in Haiti and lived there for 25 years while his parents were working as missionaries.

“We’re praying for Haiti, praying for the Haitian government,” Shoemaker said. “They’re in a tough spot. And they need some help. And so we’re trusting God will raise up some of the the UN or the U.S. or some other nation that would be willing to come in and help bring stability and security back to Haiti. It’s a great need.”

Shoemaker’s group facilitates churches who want to do Christian-based missions, doing exactly what the kidnapped missionaries were doing before their abduction. While Reciprocal Ministries still hopes to be present in Haiti as soon as it’s safe, the group has had to cancel three out of five trips this year because of the nation’s turmoil.

“They just keep getting pummeled left and right through natural disasters, and the political situation has been so unstable,” Shoemaker said. “It’s just been very difficult for organizations, foreign organizations to work within Haiti. Since 2019, we’ve had pretty much every organization cancel all their teams… the last three years now. And that is tough.”

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