PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—A powerful earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, destroying most of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Baptist organizations are struggling to obtain news about mission churches and relief organizations that may have been damaged in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Chris Hindal, director of international ministries for the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, had previously planned to fly to Haiti on the day the earthquake struck. The GARBC partners with the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries, which includes a Haitian association of Baptist churches, Association des Énglises Evangeliques Baptistes d΄ Haiti. Hindal had planned to meet with Pastor Prédestin Hérard, president of the association.

“In response to the catastrophic earthquake inflicting loss of life, loss of property, and personal suffering on the Haitian people, we the people of the churches of the GARBC commit to rise up in prayer to God for His grace, comfort, protection, and provision for these precious people,” Hindal says.

Jason and Sharon Nightingale of Wordsower International were in Haiti when the earthquake hit, ministering with Pastor Hérard. They have briefly reported that Pastor Hérard is safe, but other details are not yet known.

“It is bad, but we are seeing some miracles,” Sharon wrote on the wordsower.org blog.

The International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries has set up a fund to purchase and fly in water, food, and medicine. “Through the IPFBM we plan to use our network of partners to share relief and the message of Christ. The need is now and the opportunity to make a difference is immediate,” Hindal says.

The Haiti Children’s Home in Mirebalais suffered damage to the buildings but has so far reported no injuries. Located 35 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince, the orphanage is sponsored by Evangelical Baptist Missions to care for malnourished, premature, and abandoned children.

“The children in the orphanage we work with are okay,” says Rick Hudson, vice president of missionary personnel for EBM. “The buildings were damaged but did not fall.”

When the earthquake began, the children were evacuated to an open field across the road from the orphanage and spent the night there, Hudson says.

Roy and Ruth Shelpman, missionaries serving with Baptist Mid-Missions in Grand Goâve, live about 20 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, but initial reports indicate the couple is safe.

“We’re still attempting to make contact with our people on the ground in Haiti,” says V. W. Peters, Baptist Mid-Missions field administrator for Latin American and the Caribbean. “The only news I have is second hand, from another organization in Haiti.”

“Our couple in Haiti has reportedly lost their house, but are okay,” Peters says.

The Haitian tragedy has also affected believers in the U.S. One member of Eglise Evangelique Baptiste, Elmont, N.Y., has reported a mother’s death, according to Pastor Jacquelin Saint-Preux.

“We don’t know what else is happening. I have tried to call, but it’s very hard to get through,” Pastor Saint-Preux says.

“We recognize God’s sovereignty,” Chris Hindal says of the tragedy. “He still controls the wind, the waves, and holds the planet in His hand. God is up to something. His glory is about to be displayed as people are offered hope for eternity through faith in Jesus Christ.”