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Local missionaries return home after riots strand them in Haiti for days

Church members were scheduled to return home on Saturday when rioting in the capital city, Port-au-Prince, made conditions too dangerous for travel.

Posted: Jul. 11, 2018 7:16 AM
Updated: Jul. 11, 2018 10:42 AM

A homecoming delayed for days was finally realized late Tuesday night.

That's when missionaries from the Tennessee Valley were finally able to return home after being stuck in Haiti since Saturday.

Shortly before midnight, members of the Cornerstone Church of Christ in Florence touched down at Huntsville International Airport following a more than 18-hour travel day.

"We trusted Him. And we prayed fervently, we sang every night," church member Debbie Dupuy said. "The people there checked in on us. They were wonderful to make sure we were taken care of. The Lord brought us through it. There's no question."

Dupuy and her husband Arvy, who is the preaching minister at Cornerstone, were in the country with other members of their congregation for a week-long Vacation Bible School program.

During their stay, they worked with members of the Christian Church of Croix-des-Bouquets and the Bonnette Church of Christ to help administer food and Gospel teachings to more than 800 children.

Cornerstone has been involved with Haiti since an earthquake devastated the country in 2010 causing significant damage and some refugees fleeing to the United States.

"Avry was in contact with them, we were able to help with food and shelter and all that during that time. And he asked the brethren there, 'What do you need? What would you like for us to do for you?' And they said 'Teach us the Bible.' And so the preacher training school began," Dupuy said.

She added that her congregation and others involved with Liberté Ministries were also in Haiti this time to purchase land that will eventually house a new orphanage. She said they are scheduled to start construction at the site in September.

Members of this church were set to leave the country along with other missionaries, like members of the Alabama First Baptist Church in Russellville, but flights became grounded when riots broke out in the streets of the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

"And so we barricaded inside our hotel," Dupuy said. "And then we got more news about more riots and things going on: burning tires in the streets, we heard gunfire outside our hotel."

According to CNN, the riots began in backlash to a hike in fuel prices. They site the Haitian daily newspapers reporting that the increase included a 38 percent increase for gasoline, 47 percent for diesel and 51 percent for kerosene.

Dupuy said she and about 117 other Americans with various religious groups were barricaded inside a hotel with armed protection that included a U.S. Marine.

"That was the time for us to pray and that was the time for us to trust in the Lord because we trusted the Lord to go and we knew the Lord would bring us home. And he did," Dupuy said.

"Got through the week and now this is to test do we really believe what we teach. And God is faithful, he is faithful and we just trusted and prayed," Suzie Roberts, a fellow Cornerstone member, added.

By Tuesday morning, security on the ground deemed it safe enough to bring the church members to the airport and start their journey home.

Family and friends gathered at Huntsville International Airport to greet the members of Cornerstone when they landed. And a video posted to the Alabama First Baptist Church Facebook page showed the jubilation on the faces of those gathered to greet the vans bringing loved ones home.

Cornerstone member Billy Roberts said a Bible passage was floating around his mind when they finally touched down on U.S. soil.

"(The Book of) James says "We count it joy when we suffer." And we're looking for the joy for the joy that's going to come from this," Roberts said.

Cornerstone Church of Christ is scheduled to hold its weekly Bible study Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

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