In an upstairs room at the Second Baptist Church of Marion Wednesday, Pastor Evens Cherenfant of Blanquette Baptist Church in Haiti took a moment of silence with parishioners to pray for the people of Haiti.
The island nation was severely affected by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month, leaving at least 300 people dead, hundreds more injured, and a path of destruction across the land.
Cherenfant was visiting a sister church in Metropolis when the last-minute trip to Marion was scheduled.
"Because we find great value in doing mission work, not just in Marion, but globally as well, having those pastors and missionaries come and share something about the countries they"re serving in is encouraging for us," Discipleship and Missions Pastor Ashby Tillery said.
"It also gives us opportunities to find ways to serve those pastors, those churches and those ministries."
The recent tragedy in Haiti only served to strengthen relations between residents of the island and southern Illinois.
Last year was the first time that members of Second Baptist Church traveled to Haiti, but they have formed a partnership with the community of Tapio, just outside of Blanquette where Pastor Evens preaches.
Tillery said the relationship between the two communities will serve to aid the church and school in Taipo, which was spared from the more severe damage of the hurricane.
"Because we"re developing a relationship with this area in Haiti, my hope is that they learn more about the community where we"re serving," Tillery said. He also expressed a hope that parishioners would learn more about the nation, so that they may one day serve by traveling to the area.
"Information removes fear, and typically people are afraid to go on mission trips," he said. "The more they know, the less fear there is because of the uncertainty."
Other churches in the Marion area have formed relationships with churches and communities on the island.
In 2013, the youth pastor at Third Baptist Church, Josh Monda, organized a mission trip to the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, to minister to children in outlying communities, Damien and Bigarade.
While Monda transitioned to First Baptist Church in Washington, Ill., and was unable to make the trip, parishioners went on. And they came back, two years in a row, bringing Monda and his daughter on one of the trips.
After being unable to send a mission team to Haiti this year, Marion resident and parishioner, Timothy Petrowich, began the non-profit corporation Equipping Haiti.
The mission of the group, according to Petrowich, is to "equip" the people of Haiti to be self-sufficient.
Some problems plaguing the nation include cholera, flooding, and a lack of food or clean water. Petrowich"s group helps to combat these problems with food and other supplies.
The group supplied $650 to provide food and clean drinking water for a day to 112 families in the community of Damien, exceeding their goal of 100 families with $50 left over.
Local food was purchased to provide those in need, and local residents were hired to help with the distribution of goods.
According to Petrowich, the group plans to send a second team to the area in July of 2017. Anyone who would like to make a donation to the Haitian cause is encouraged to visit the web address, www.equippinghaiti.org.