Prinsburg, Minn., is not often thought of as diverse. But an international connection with a Haiti orphanage is slowly changing the community demographics.
Children of the Promise is a nondenominational Christian organization that began in 1999 after Willmar (Minn.) natives Bud and Jan Bonnema felt God’s call to provide for the needy and malnourished infants of northern Haiti. That calling led to a permanent establishment of a crèche, the Haitian term for temporary housing for children.
Jamie Groen, stateside director of the crèche, travels to Haiti approximately four times each year to organize adoptions in addition to raising funds. Groen is excited about the way a small community can command such a global presence. “Central Minnesota is not very diverse, and yet we’re sitting here with 22 Haitian kids, and many of them go to the Christian schools,” he said.
Recently Prinsburg’s Unity Christian Reformed Church welcomed Haitian native Antonio Jean Louis to their church. Besides feeling “very, very cold,” Jean Louis and his wife and children also “feel like we belong here. Prinsburg has been great supporters of the work of [the crèche], so they know a lot about us already.”
Several Christian Reformed churches in the greater Prinsburg area continue to consistently provide support for the crèche both financially and physically. “In each of the churches, there’s been anywhere from 20 to 50 people who have been to our compound in Haiti, so it’s a cool thing!” Groen said.
The organization supports 15 long-term missionary staff who aid in nursing and teaching. They hire about 100 Haitian nationals to provide for administrative roles, childcare, and household duties.
Currently, the Haitian facility can care for up to 50 infants.
In the spring of 2014, Children of the Promise will partner with Dordt College and Willmar’s Community Christian School in welcoming groups of student volunteers.