Haiti Methodists Offer ‘Healing Love’ to Survivors
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
January 24, 2010—“You have your 9/11, now we have our 1/12.”
That is how the Rev. Ralph Denizard of the Methodist Church of Haiti describes the way people in his nation feel after a massive earthquake struck Jan. 12.
Denizard and the Rev. Maude Hyppolite, both superintendents in a circuit outside of Port-au-Prince, met with members of the United Methodist Committee on Relief to tell them about the damage in their area.
Clara “Jean”Arnwine, one of a team of volunteers from Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, died of injuries she suffered after being trapped inside the Haiti Eye Clinic just blocks away from one of Denizard’s churches.
He points to a large hole in a wall and explains how church members and others worked to free Arnwine and another Dallas volunteer, Dr. Gary Fish.
“They were the last two out,” Denizard said. Fish and 10 other mission workers survived.
Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti also lost “a big man and lay leader” when Yves Joesph, 46, was crushed in a hotel that collapsed. His brother Al France Joseph said Yves died when the hotel he was in fell during the quake.
“He had gone to the meeting for a church meeting,” Al France Joseph said. His body was identified by a business card.
Petit Goave has a population of about 119,000. Many of the survivors are living outside because either their homes were destroyed, or they are too afraid to live in them.
Mesanie Nerva, 76, is living under the shade of several large sheets on the grounds of Centre de La Hatte, a Methodist center.
“I got scared, my house started to fall apart around me,” she said. “Because of the grace of God I am here.”
Jeannette Silne, 72, said her family “put me in a car and brought me here.” Silne said she is not a member of the church but “denominations don’t matter, they take care of everyone.”
What does matter, Denizard is telling people in his churches, is the “healing love of Jesus. My focus is on comfort.”
Gifts to support UMCOR's Haiti Relief efforts can be made to Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325 UMCOR with "Advance #418325 - Haiti Emergency" in the memo line. Checks can be put in the church's offering plate or mailed to: UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. 100% of gifts made to this Advance project will go to help the people of Haiti.
*Gilbert is a news writer for the United Methodist News Service on assignment in Haiti.