PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — As
people in and around Port-au-Prince, Haiti, continue to clamor for food, water
and shelter, one International Mission Board (IMB) missionary tried to offer a
little hope by simply providing a pen, paper and a listening ear.
While walking along some of
the hardest hit streets in Port-au-Prince, Mark Rutledge and an IMB media team
found thousands of people searching for someone to help them. The team stopped
to talk with a small group of men about the crisis. Before long, the
conversation turned to what Rutledge and the team could provide right then.
“We have no food, we have no
water,” pleaded one man. “We need help now!”
Another man showed the team
a gash in his head from where he was hit by debris.
With only a couple of
bottles of water and a bag or two of trail mix, Rutledge considered the risks
of giving someone a handout in a crowded street when he didn’t have enough to
The situation could easily become dangerous.
He decided to help another
way. He told the men he would give their names and contact information to a
Southern Baptist disaster relief team that was assessing needs in the city.
As the men quickly jotted
their information on scraps of paper, more people came running to see what was
going on. Within 30 minutes, a group of four had turned into more than 50
gathered around Rutledge. Some were on their cell phones spreading the word.
People passed around pens.
Some tore off pieces of a nearby flier to write down a name, phone number and
street address of where they were staying. An envelope soon surfaced and the
notes were stuffed inside.
One man spoke passionately
about his needs to Rutledge. As the missionary stood surrounded by a crowd
five- to 10-people deep, he calmly wrote down information and offered
“It’s overwhelming how many
need help,” Rutledge said later. “It’s frustrating seeing so many people in the
U.S. and other countries wanting to help, but the people here need help now.
“The only thing I can do is
encourage them to hold on.
“They don’t see anything
happening,” he added. “They want to talk to someone who can make something
“I had no idea it was going
to escalate. I knew I had to give people an opportunity to hand me a piece of
paper — a sign of hope for them … that something positive would happen in the
Before Rutledge drove away,
he took the envelope filled with the dozens and dozens of scraps of paper —
some with long lists of names. One man ran to catch the truck after it left,
stopping the team about a mile down the road to hand them his information.
Rutledge delivered the
envelope to a Southern Baptist disaster relief assessment team the next day in
the Dominican Republic, where he and the IMB media team were staying.
The assessment team, with a
caravan of three trucks, then headed toward Port-au-Prince to deliver supplies
to an orphanage near the city and to continue to assess needs.
To give to the relief
(EDITOR’S NOTE — James is a writer for the International Mission Board.)