Haiti (MNN) — The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that violently shook Haiti has claimed many lives. According to the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, the quake claimed the life of a leading pastor in Port-au-Prince.
56-year-old Beinne Lamerique, pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince, died of injuries sustained when his house collapsed. Several Haitian Baptist pastors buried him without a coffin — because none was available.
Pastor Gedeon Eugene, vice president of the Baptist Convention of Haiti, says, "[He was] one of our best pastors."
IMB missionaries Mark and Peggy Rutledge worked with Pastor Lamerique. Peggy says, "Haiti lost a good man. Pastor Beinne did everything with his whole heart. He had a love or people and for reaching people. He planted more churches than any other pastor I know. We loved him dearly."
"To me personally … he was a real encouragement," added Mark, who traveled to Port-au-Prince Jan. 17 to translate for a Southern Baptist team. "He was one who raised up and grew leaders and started new churches. He also was one to take churches that were stagnate and begin to work with them to renew them and get them on course again. He had a tremendous impact on multiplication of churches like no other pastor I've experienced since we've been in Haiti."
Lamerique's congregation met in a building that once was a vehicle-repair garage for the United Nations, Peggy said. It is located about a mile from the U.N. building that collapsed in the quake.
IMB missionary Dawn Goodwin, who works with Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic, visited Lamerique's church Jan. 16 with Dominican Baptist leaders who traveled to Port-au-Prince to assess needs of quake survivors. The sanctuary sustained significant damages but was still standing. Some church members were living in the churchyard, said Goodwin (who earlier served 17 years in Haiti) in a Jan. 17 phone interview.
"We prayed with and encouraged them and their associate pastor," said Goodwin, who is from Jefferson City, Tenn. The team also left supplies, including tarps that church members planned to use to shade themselves from the sun during worship services.
First Baptist Church of Port-au-Prince, located downtown near Haiti's collapsed presidential palace, also sustained damage but was still standing, Goodwin said. She and the Dominican delegation — which included Carlos Llambes, an IMB missionary in the Dominican Republic — also visited Concord Baptist Church in Port-au-Prince, which escaped damage. Llambes is a native of Cuba from Hialeah, Fla. The pastor's wife, a nurse, is treating patients in her home and soon will be setting up a first-aid clinic at the church, Goodwin said.
Former IMB missionaries to Haiti and their colleagues are grieving the death of Pastor Lamerique — and they fear there will be more grief to come as reports of more casualties trickle in.
"There has just been so much devastation in Haiti," Peggy said. "It's going to take God to bring people through. Just pray that God will open the doors to reach people and to be able to help people, because this is beyond what any one organization can do."
While Haitians have been physically devastated by the quake, "they have been equally devastated spiritually and emotionally," said Pegg. "Pray that God will bring the right people to minister to Haitians in more than just material ways."