A local church group is heading home after being unable to fly out of Haiti due to civil unrest.
A group of 17 from Providence United Methodist Church arrived in Haiti July 1 to assist in building a new school for the local children of Lanzac, about 40 miles north of the capital of Port-au-Prince. For years the church has supported the nonprofit Grace and Glory, which was started by a member of Providence UMC.
The nonprofit currently works with the Benevolence School, which educates and feeds 140 children, but because of growth, a new 10-classroom building is under construction and is expected to be complete by the next school year.
Mark Youngman, pastor of discipleship, is part of team that traveled to Haiti. He said that the riots in Haiti intensified as their week in the country was coming to an end. The government’s decision to raise gas prices have caused many Haitians to take to the streets, he said.
Roadblocks have made it dangerous and even impossible to travel, so the Providence UMC team was not able to get to the airport for their flight home Sunday.
Dan Lins, director of operations at the church, said there was a plan in place to get the team safely out of Haiti.
Tuesday afternoon, the church group took a helicopter to the Port-au-Prince airport then boarded a charter plan to the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo 200 miles away. If all goes well, they are expected to take a direct commercial flight to Nashville on Wednesday.
Lins said the group is doing well and are in good spirits, but they are looking forward to coming home.
Despite the precarious situation his team has been in, Youngman wanted to focus on the ministry of his church and the community they served.
“The community we are serving in is very warm and welcoming,” said Youngman. “They work hard and love well. They represent what Haiti is all about.”
Youngman also said that many of the team members are determined to return to Haiti once peace resumes in the country.
“We are so thankful for the faithfulness, patience, and strength of our mission team on the ground, the good guidance of our ministry partner Grace and Glory, and the tireless work of our Director of Outreach Jeff Loper and High Point Travel for helping make this happen,” the church said in a statement on Facebook. “We are also very thankful for the many prayers and expressions of support our team has received from friends near and far. Most of all, we are thankful to God, who is always faithful and is near to us wherever we are.”