Delivering the goods in Haiti

Miss. minister answers the call

By LaReeca Rucker

Shortly after the earthquake, Tim Dortch of Rankin County watched a Fox News interview with Haiti for Christ missionaries, who were asking for help. Within days, he was in Haiti, on the way to their orphanage.

After arriving, Dortch, 44, filled ice chests with chicken and packed rice, beans and other supplies for earthquake victims before beginning a six-hour track through the mountains.

"The Haitian people are so oppressed," he said by phone last week. "They were almost broken before this happened. How much more can they handle?"

When Dortch isn't leading Camden's Good Hope Baptist Church or working as an air-conditioning and refrigeration technician, he travels to Haiti to minister to the poor through his nonprofit organization Hispaniola Mountain Ministries.

Influenced by a fellow seminary student, Dortch took his first mission trip to Haiti in 1998, and later returned to build churches and a ministry compound on the Haiti/Dominican Republic border. He also learned Spanish and Creole to communicate with those who live in both countries.

"God put the love of the Haitians into my heart, and one thing he showed me is there are no borders," Dortch said.

Dortch is determined to become a full-time missionary there if he can raise enough money to pay his bills and support his wife and daughter back home.

"I know God has someone willing to step in and help me," he said. "I don't need to go home. I'm in the outskirts where the people are affected, and there is no food. It's a real problem, and it's a real opportunity."

Gene Gillis, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Columbus, ordained Dortch as a minister and has traveled with him to Haiti.

"How many people do you know who would take their life savings and build a house in a far-away, poor neighborhood just to help people there?" Gillis asked Tuesday. "It didn't surprise me that Tim told his boss he had to take off to go there. And things are escalating to the point where Tim feels like he should be down there full-time."

Larry Garner, director of church services for the Metro Baptist Association - an organization of around 100 churches in Hinds and Madison counties - said Tuesday that Dortch is leading response efforts for the association, which will help support his mission work.

"Tim is a man of action," Garner said. "God has placed him in a unique place. He's going to be working full time, figuring out what needs to be done. He leaves out Monday morning with a one-way ticket to Haiti. So he's not planning on returning for some time.

"We are planning for a long-term response to this disaster, and Tim will lead the way. We don't want to just scatter seed to the wind. He will identify rich soil within which to plant seeds. The best way to support a long-term relief is to help and work through him."

Sherry Kernop has been on multiple mission trips to Haiti with Dortch and helped him collect medical supplies for his most recent Haiti journey.

"We ended up with so many supplies, that he couldn't take them all," she said. "The additional supplies will be taken to Haiti Monday when Tim flies back in."

Monetary donations are probably most helpful now, Kernop said.

"I have never met a person who poured their heart and soul into God's mission work like Tim does," she said. "God has equipped him to be a 'jack of all trades,' and he uses those gifts and knowledge to help the people."