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United Methodists rescued in Haiti

After the devastating earthquake in 
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, survivors rest in a makeshift shelter in the 
parking lot of the general hospital.
After the devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, survivors rest in a makeshift shelter in the parking lot of the general hospital.14/Jan/2010. Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
UN Photo/Logan Abassi.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*

Jan. 15, 2010

The Rev. Sam Dixon
The Rev. Sam Dixon

Two United Methodist mission leaders have been rescued from the rubble of the Hotel Montana, and workers are close to extracting a third church leader pinned under a concrete beam after the massive earthquake rocked Haiti Jan. 12.

The Rev. Sam Dixon, top executive of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, was taken out of the debris Friday morning, said Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Board of Global Ministries. The Rev. Clinton Rabb, head of Mission Volunteers, was responding to rescue workers.

“They had to get Sam out in order to get to Clint, as I understand it,” reported Tom Hazelwood, an executive with the United Methodist Committee on Relief. He said rescue workers were able to get fluids into Dixon and Rabb, and both were talking.

James Gulley, an UMCOR official who had been trapped with the two men, was rescued earlier. Gulley, who suffered cuts and bruises, is at the U.S. Embassy waiting to be airlifted out of the country.

Gulley’s son, Aaron, said his father told him Friday morning that that Dixon and Rabb had been pinned by a concrete beam and that rescue workers were proceeding cautiously.“He said they’re going to get them out, it’s just a question of time,” Aaron Gulley said.

Dixon and Rabb sustained injuries, Ough said, but the extent is not known.

“We rejoice that all are alive,” Ough said, “like many I had begun to prepare for their possible deaths. This is terrific news.”

Jim Gulley 
Jim Gulley

The hotel collapsed when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12.

Three staff from IMA World Health who were meeting with the trio at the hotel -- Sarla Chand, a United Methodist who serves as vice president of international programs; Rick Santos, the agency’s president, and Ann Varghese, program officer for Haiti -- also were rescued and are fine.

In an interview on “Good Morning America,” Gulley, Santos and Chand, a former staff member of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, spoke of being trapped in a small space between two large pillars. They shared a stick of chewing gum and a Tootsie Roll pop provided by Santos.

“For us not to die with that magnitude of an earthquake, to me, that is second life,” Chand said. Gulley added, “We’re very fortunate to be alive.”

The news of their rescue was first posted on a Hotel Montana Facebook page. Hazelwood said Gulley called his wife, Nancy, who then called Roland Fernandes, a Global Ministries executive.

The Rev. Clinton Rabb 
The Rev. Clinton Rabb

Dixon and Gulley flew to Haiti on Jan. 11 to attend meetings, and Rabb had joined them there on the day of the earthquake. They had arrived at the hotel just about 5 minutes before the earthquake struck at 4:53 p.m.

Dixon has served at the Board of Global Ministries since 1998. As UMCOR’s chief executive, he oversees programs that range in scope from international development and peace building to long-term disaster recovery and special ministries to marginalized people. He also served 24 years in pastoral ministry and had special assignments in the denomination’s North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference.

Rabb, a clergy member of the Southwest Texas Conference, has served with the Mission Volunteer unit since July 2006 and has been on the agency staff since 1995. During a span of almost 20 years as a pastor and chaplain in Texas, Rabb was engaged in domestic and international Volunteers in Missions teams.

Gulley has extensive experience in sustainable agricultural work. As a missionary, he served from 1972 to 1979 in Nigeria and, starting in 2005, for 15 months in Cambodia, working on agriculture projects. He also worked for the U.S. Department for Agriculture for 10 years and led a sustainable agriculture project at the Board of Global Ministries.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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