On Feb. 17, 2018, more than 300 people showed up at the Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church to support its silent auction and fundraising event for Haiti, and by the end of the night, almost $75,000 had been raised, which exceeded their goal by 50 per cent.
“It was truly amazing,” said Pastor Rod Heppell of the event’s turnout. “We raised $45,000 through the silent auction, $24,000 through extra gifts and donations, and $2,000 through ticket sales—plus some extra—for a grand total of $74,300.”
This brings the total raised for United Christians International (UCI), the organization in Caiman, Haiti, the Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church has been helping for the past four years, to more than $150,000.
“We donate 100 per cent of the proceeds,” said Heppell. But they get to decide how it’s spent.
This year’s goal was to raise $50,000 so UCI could build new dorms for its university students. However, the additional funds meant not only was the Sardis Fellowship able to surpass this year’s mark, but they were able to create bursaries that will be used to help pay an in-need student’s tuition.
“We’re all called to different things,” says Heppell of his congregation’s efforts to help a foriegn country. “Some (churches) help the homeless … and some host school lunch programs. They’re all great places (to put effort).”
And while Heppell says his parish has given financial gifts and volunteered hundreds of hours within Chilliwack. “Being poor isn’t a local issue,” so they help where help is needed, which explains why the church’s motto is “Centred in Christ, visible in community, (and) transforming our world.”
“It’s about helping the global community and helping where we can when we can,” added Heppell, who then related an old tale about a boy tossing starfish into the ocean.
“The beach was covered with starfish, and this boy picks them up one at a time and tosses them into the sea. But there’s an old man there who tells him not to bother—with so many starfish, he can’t hope to make a difference.
“The boy, picking up another starfish and throwing it into the sea says, ‘It makes a world of difference for that one!’
“That’s all we’re doing,” says Heppell. “Trying to make a world of difference one (person) at a time.”
In addition to raising nearly $75,000, members of the Sardis Fellowship also flew to Caiman to help with the on-the-ground efforts of UCI and give back to their community as a whole.
“We took an entire (elementary) class to see the Citadelle, which they probably wouldn’t have had a chance to see otherwise.” Heppell said. “We brought food and goats to residents and helped build cement floors. We did a lot.”
And although they’ve reached the end of their missionary goals for Haiti, Heppell says it doesn’t mean they won’t go back, or look to help another group somewhere else.
“I think it’s both-and,” said the pastor. “We can help both at home and abroad. It doesn’t need to be one or the other … it’s an ongoing effort.”
To learn more about the Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church and its Haitian efforts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (604) 858 – 8432.