Helping Haiti about more than money

A Chilliwack church is giving five years of service to a Haiti organization helping to improve the lives of all Haitians.

Pastor Rod Heppell (centre) is getting ready to head to Haiti with his team from Sardis Fellowship Church

Pastor Rod Heppell (centre) is getting ready to head to Haiti with his team from Sardis Fellowship Church

Giving money was too easy.

Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church had been looking for a service project to sink its good-willing teeth into for years, but all that looked promising never panned out. They could have sent the collection pot around, and handed a cheque over to one organization or another, but that seemed too easy, said Pastor Rod Heppell.

They wanted to build relationships. They wanted to educate. They wanted to help an impoverished, hurting community thrive.

One church member, Dick Westeringh, had the answer:


Westeringh, who owns Westbow Construction and has two adopted children from Haiti, had completed several projects in the country, and most recently had been working on a university housing project with Haiti-based organization United Christians International (UCI).

When Heppell joined Westeringh on a working trip to the country last spring, he was sold.

UCI wasn’t looking for handouts, Heppell said, it wanted partners.

The Christian organization is located in Caiman, Haiti, a small village between the country’s major cities Port Au Prince and Cap Haitian. Founded in 2005 by Haitian Jean-Jean and his American wife Kristie Mompremier, the organization has worked to empower rural Haitians. It’s built homes for locals, replaced mud floors with concrete ones, built proper latrines, drilled water wells, improved irrigation and agriculture, and has developed a ministry campus that includes a church, health centre, primary school, and university.

The impact is significant, said Heppell. Surrounding communities now have access to education, nutrition, water, sanitation, agriculture and housing.

“There’s now options for these people, the poorest of the poor,” said Heppell.

The goals of UCI are the same as those of Sardis Fellowship.

“It’s easy to give money, but it’s really hard to be good stewards of that money,” said Heppell. “As a church, we wanted to do something more than just a one-off trip, we wanted something longterm. And UCI is providing housing and supporting education, both of which are needed in order for a country to change.”

For the next five years, Sardis Fellowship has committed to working with United Christians International (UCI).

The church’s first endeavor is next month when 14 of its members will be going on a UCI service trip to Haiti.

The team includes a dentist and hygienist, a metal fabricator, farmers, construction workers, and a pastor.

“The whole idea here is partner, partner, partner,” said Heppell. “We’re not throwing money at them, we’re working alongside them.”

The team’s metal fabricator has prepared a selection of designs for a shelving bracket suitable for the university’s walls. He’ll be educating the Haitians on how to build those brackets for future need. Those with agricultural experience will be working with the university’s agricultural department educating them in dripline irrigation. The resident dentist will be operating a mobile clinic that’s she’s able to do with the mobile dental chair she recently purchased specifically for this trip.

The team will also be working alongside local Haitians building houses for the 35-unit housing project that will be used for guest lecturers to stay once completed.

“We want to work together,” said Heppell. “We want to help empower this community.”

The team will be gone from April 1 to 11 at a cost of $40,000. In addition to the travel costs, the church has also committed to raising an additional $40,000 for the cause.

A fundraiser earlier this month brought in $20,000, bringing the fundraising total up to $28,000. The church has also secured approximately $5,000 of donated items including dental supplies, building supplies, farming supplies and tools.

“Our hope is to help stabilize this country and give it a better future for all people,” said Heppell.

All funds donated go 100 per cent into the project through Chilliwack organization Hungry for Life International.

Tax receipts available.

For more information contact Sardis Fellowship at 604-858-8433.

Just Posted

Chilliwack Fire Department on scene at a house fire on Boundary Road and No. 4 Road on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (David Seltenrich/ Facebook)
Fire crews respond to house fire on border of Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Flames, dark smoke reported coming from front of house when crews arrived

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

Pig races at the 147th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 10, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack Fair plans in-person event for 149th annual exhibition

Will be first large-scale, in-person event in over a year, provided regulations continue as planned

Vivian Le is one of two local recipients of a Beedie Luminaries scholarship.
Chilliwack students overcome adversity to win Beedie Luminaries scholarships

Sardis secondary’s Vivian Le and G.W. Graham’s Alisa Gusakova are among 112 students receiving money

Crews work on the construction of Stitó:s Lá:lém Totí:lt near the Vedder River on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack School District shuffling catchment areas as Stitó:s Lá:lém totí:lt construction continues

SD33 is looking for public input about proposed catchment and feeder school options

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

Most Read