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Haiti triggers heartfelt reflections on social media

Through texting, United Methodists share thoughts and concern for
their sisters and brothers in Haiti. UMNS photos by Ronny Perry.  

By Barbara Dunlap-Berg*
4:15 PM EST Jan. 26, 2010

Encouraging words. Poetry and prayer. Heart-tugging emotion.

The Haiti earthquake is illustrating the power and the accessibility of social media to provide forums for shared grief, empathy and theological reflection as people around the world share their thoughts.

From posting poignant notes to telling how to make health kits to advertising benefit concerts, people are connecting on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

“It’s so hard to imagine what it must be like to be in Haiti now,” wrote Owensboro, Ky., retired teacher Kathy Sherman on the United Methodist News Service Facebook site.

“God never leaves us or forsakes us. He is with his people and is showing his presence by the support from Christians right now,” added Esther Williams. “Our church is taking donations and putting together packages of basic things needed. I believe (God) is telling us to help our brothers and sisters.”

‘May God’s grace be upon you’

Posts on the UMCOR Facebook
site reflect empathy and a desire
to help the people of Haiti.

Mbwizu Ndjungu, a United Methodist from Cameroon, expressed appreciation, “We thank all the heroes, women and men of The UMC in the U.S. helping other people because they know we are all God’s children. May his grace be upon you all.”

When the news service posted a photo of a United Methodist Committee on Relief truck entering Haiti, people responded. “Doesn’t it warm your heart to see that UMCOR logo on that truck?” asked Deanna Nickels Holland, a member of Centenary United Methodist Church, Beatrice, Neb.

“My heart is truly warmed, and I have tears in my eyes. I wish I were able to be there and help,” Mary Hodges, a computer operations supervisor from Charlottesville, Va., commented.

“This is a touching story,” said attorney Jannette Miller, Breckenridge, Texas. It “really makes one think, pray, cry and be grateful to God.”

UMCOR staff responded via Facebook. “Thanks so much for your prayers and support.”

‘May God give you strength’

Writing on the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries memorial blog, colleague and stranger alike paid tribute to the Revs. Sam Dixon and Clinton Rabb, UMCOR leaders who died of earthquake-related injuries. They were in Haiti in an effort to improve health services.

Hartmut Handt wrote, “I grieve with all those who grieve because of the death of two men who dedicated their lives to God's mission and to people's well-being. May God comfort all grieving ones, and may God help UMCOR to find the right persons to continue in that mission.”

From Africa University in Zimbabwe, Jeanine Paitilete said, “I am still in shock and very sorry for the death of our beloved Rev. Sam Dixon and Rev. Clinton Rabb. My heartfelt compassion for having lost two members of GBGM's family. I am thinking of you all and praying we will be comforted by God.” Quoting from Psalm 48, she continued, “May God give you strength during this difficult time.”

‘It seems so overwhelming’

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“Where do we begin?” wrote Dana Atchley, a retired tax accountant from Greenville, Texas, on The United Methodist Church Facebook site. “It seems so overwhelming. Each of us is just one person.”

“My heart is aching for Haiti,” added Denise Delaney. “I just don't know what way to turn right now. There is so much suffering and need for help. Where do you begin? All my prayers go out to the world.”

Spanning continents, social media has provided new ways for United Methodists to empathize with the suffering and encounter solace.

“I feel so sad for those devastated by the earthquake in Haiti,” Gerald D. Horton said. “We have to pray for all those who are in need and reach down in our pockets to try to help.”

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


Photos from team in Haiti

Related Articles

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Haiti journal: life goes on amid destruction

Haiti Methodists offer ‘healing love’ to survivors

Mission leader Rabb celebrated for making a difference

UMCOR’s Sam Dixon remembered for his life of service

Worship goes on beside damaged Haitian church

United Methodists build prayer wall for Haiti

Earthquake confirms value of social media


10thousanddoors.org prayer wall on Facebook

The United Methodist Church on Facebook

United Methodist News Service on Facebook

GBGM memorial blog

UMCOR response

Mike Slaughter blog 

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