Earthquake victims search for help, hope
Alan James, Baptist Press
January 27, 2010

Earthquake victims search for help, hope

Earthquake victims search for help, hope
Alan James, Baptist Press
January 27, 2010


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.

IMB photo

Young men walk the streets of Port-au-Prince looking for supplies. IMB missionary Mark Rutledge told the men he would give their names and contact information to a Southern Baptist team that is assessing needs.

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

go around.

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


IMB photo

IMB missionary Mark Rutledge holds an envelope filled with dozens and dozens of notes pleading for help in various communities that still have no relief or aid of any kind.

“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

near future.”

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

effort, donate online at imb.org/haitifund or gobgr.org.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — James is a writer for the International Mission Board.)

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