(This exerpted article was published in the Sun News, Sebring, FL)

“I was on my way home with Pastor Jocelyn Dufreine, from my office in the direction of my house near Delmas where the earthquake happened,” Pastor Josue Octeus said as he shared with a group of ministers and Christian men at a breakfast meeting recently. Octeus is President of the Evangelical Church of Haiti, with 21 churches in Port-au-Prince, where the Earthquake was centered, and in Arcahaie and Gonaives, both urban and rural communities.

“I was in my car and felt a terrible sensation,” Octeus added. “A truck was coming from another street trying to get in front of me. I managed not to collide with him. The cars and trucks in the streets were moving in every direction. Houses were collapsing, gas stations were shacking. We realized it could be an earthquake. I braked to a stop. My legs were so weak I couldn’t drive anymore.”

Immediately, Pastor Octeus jumped out of his car and began preaching in French, “Repent and be converted so that your sins can be forgiven!” Everyone was crying and calling out the name of Jesus! “My associate suggested I preach in Creole as most couldn’t understand French.”

Pastor Octeus went to his home, just a few miles. It took seven hours to get there because of the calamity and chaos in traffic. “I didn’t find anyone in my houses, including a guest house,” he said. They were completely destroyed. Thankfully no one was in the houses.”

Later Pastor Octeus found his wife, Rosie and their two daughters, Rose Camah-Mitchelle and Jose Micah Rachelle, in front of their church door near their home. “I was so grateful they were alive as they escaped from the house that collapsed behind them,” he added. “My children were playing with toys that we found under the debris.”

One family of eight in Pastor Octeus’ church were crushed as their house collapsed on them. Only one, who was away from home, survived.

“I gave support to my immediate family,” Pastor Octeus added. “I contacted Clean the World, a mission agency in Orlando. They transported my family by plane to bring us to the states for two months. I returned to Haiti to provide support to my extended family and congregation.”

On his way to Port-au-Prince the churches in Cap Haitian sent with me 100 boxes of Cassaves, special packets to those in need. “I shared with those in shelters and other churches what was given to me,” Pastor Octeus said. “We organized a committee to help with distribution to the churches and shelters. People were very happy to receive them. Even several days after the earthquake many still had nothing to eat.”

Other Christian agencies, including Samaritan’s Purse, provided tarps, food and water. Compassion International helped minister to the Haitian children.

“Now I have no home for my family to live in Haiti,” Pastor Ocetus said. “My houses collapsed and I lost my business, so now we are living by faith. I need to get them clearance for immigration to come to the United States. I am limited in what I can do now because of immigration and visa requirements.”

Pastor Octeus has identified 226 children, ages 3-12, who are orphans since the earthquake. “I started an Orphanage ministry with tutors and other helpers,” he added. “Some were placed with relatives to help care for them. I visit with them and share what I can with them.”

Pastor Octeus vision is to build an orphanage to house 30 children. “I get many relatives from our churches who have taken in orphans who need a place to live,” he said. “We are looking for one acre of land to build an orphanage to provide school, clinic, and referrals to homes where they can eventually live.”

At this time Pastor Octeus said that their most urgent need is for daily food and water. “We also need tutors to work with the orphans,” he added. “Three times a week we have activities for them. On Sunday we bring them to the Evangelical Church of Haiti in Robert, near Port-au-Prince.”

Pastor Joseph Luc, from the Haitian United Methodist Church in Sebring and Vern Birkey, President of The Eleventh Hour Workers Missionary Group INC. in Sebring have provided support with frequent visits, clothing and other supplies along with teaching and training of pastors. They join Pastor Octeus in a mission to provide relief support.

For more information as to how you may help Pastor Octeus and this relief mission in Haiti, you may contact Pastor Octeus can be reached via email at jocteus1972 @ yahoo. fr or Vern Berkey at 863- 414-0291 or birkeyvl @ yahoo. com.