Doxology for Haiti
The news was too horrible to be true. Buried under the rubble of the Montana Hotel caused by Haiti's January 12 earthquake were three officials from the General Board of Global Ministries: the Rev. Clint Rabb, the Rev. James Gulley, and the Rev. Dr. Samuel W. Dixon, Jr. Rabb headed the agency's Volunteers in Mission program, Gulley served as a United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) consultant, and Dixon was UMCOR's head. Fifty-five hours after the earthquake, it was reported that all three men had been found alive in the rubble, and there was great rejoicing. Only later did we learn that Gulley was treated in a Florida hospital and was able to return to his home in Denver; Rabb was also treated in the Florida hospital, but died as a result of his injuries; and Dixon had actually died before being rescued.
Gulley told the story of their ordeal, how they discovered beneath the rubble that they were alive, how they had told stories, remembered their families, endured the pain and suffering, and in the midst of it all, how they had sung hymns together. When they were discovered in the rubble, Gulley said that they sang the Doxology: "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." He didn't say it, but I'm confident they added the customary Amen after the Doxology.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, buried in the devastation, and enduring their pain and suffering, they kept strength, hope and faith by remembering, telling stories, singing hymns, and upon being found, singing the Doxology.
The earthquake occurred January 12. Rabb, Gulley and Dixon were pulled from the rubble on January 15. Rabb died on January 17. His funeral took place January 23. Dixon's funeral service was held the morning of January 22.
Upon returning home from work on January 22, after having followed closely the Internet reports on Dixon's funeral that morning, I opened my mail to find a letter signed by Sam Dixon. My wife and I had made a donation to UMCOR's "Nothing But Nets" Advance initiative, and here in the mail on the day of Sam Dixon's funeral was his letter acknowledging and thanking me for our gift. It must have been one of the last such letters he signed before traveling to Haiti.
I read the letter several times, especially the sentence that said, "UMCOR programs provide food for the hungry, help farmers grow plentiful and nutritious food, and support people left destitute by natural disasters and war." Each time I read it, I looked as Sam's signature and thought of the magnificent gift of his life and service and gave thanks to God. As Sam, Clint and Jim had done in the rubble, I sang the words of the Doxology, but I sang them to the tune of UM Hymnal #408, which seemed to fit the words better.
We continue to see scenes of devastation, suffering, frustration, hunger, disease, and such great need in Haiti. I take comfort and some pride in the fact that as long as that is the case in Haiti, UMCOR will be there. Please support UMCOR's work and honor the efforts of its workers, and the memory of Clint Rabb and Sam Dixon. Help UMCOR to help the people of Haiti and the world. And as you do, sing the Doxology.