RICHMOND, Va. — Southern Baptist missionaries
with long-term connections to Haiti, where the death toll from a Jan. 12
earthquake is still beyond counting, are anxiously waiting to hear from friends
and former co-workers in the country.
Currently, the International Mission
Board does not have long-term personnel stationed in the country.
Mark Rutledge, who served with his wife Peggy in Haiti for 26 years, has been unable to contact anyone he
knows in the country. The earthquake destroyed much of Haiti’s communications infrastructure, according to news
reports, and telephone service is spotty at best.
Inadequate building codes may have multiplied the death toll, Rutledge observed.
“To me it’s pretty overwhelming,” said Rutledge, who was in the United States when the quake occurred. “The codes were sufficient
in the 1800s, but they’re not now. The houses are very close together with
multiple stories. There is a lot of potential for widespread devastation. There
could easily be hundreds and hundreds of thousands dead or homeless.”
Dawn Goodwin, who worked in Haiti for nearly 17 years before transferring to Santo Domingo, Dominican
has been able to learn about conditions in Haiti through the Facebook social networking site.
cell phones and land lines are not working, people with Internet access through
satellite dishes have been able to communicate online, Goodwin said.
Through Facebook, Goodwin learned about friends Bruce and Cindy McMartin, who
serve with another missionary organization, working into the night Jan. 12 to
try to locate students at their Bible school who were missing after the
“We’re all just still in shock I think … just too incredible to believe and
to think about all the damage is overwhelming,” McMartin wrote on Facebook. “The
noise around (the neighborhood) this morning is of people digging out and then
the wails as they find their dead loved ones.”
Goodwin finds it hard to express the emotions she feels about the destruction
in Haiti and her desire to help survivors. The Port-au-Prince
neighborhood in which she used to live was just a few blocks from the United
Nations building that was destroyed by the quake.
“The devastation is so overwhelming — there are no words for me to express what
I see when I see the pictures,” Goodwin said. “I don’t know what I can do as
one person, but I do feel like I should be there ministering and helping. I
know that the missionaries (from other groups) who are there, many of them are
out in the streets now trying to find people to help.
“Haiti is a place that had so many problems already; if the
world will come in and help, Haiti can be rebuilt,” Goodwin added. “My heart is really
heavy for the people who are suffering and can’t get anybody to come rescue
them because there are probably thousands who are trapped, waiting for rescue.”
Haitian Christians will be giving themselves wholeheartedly in service to
neighbors in need and would be grateful for prayer support, Rutledge added.
“We just ask Southern Baptists to pray for the many people impacted and for the
(local) Christians to minister to communities at large,” Rutledge said. “Haitians
are very caring people.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Reported by the International Mission Board’s communications
staff. Southern Baptists can contribute to “Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief”