Personal contact sparks response

BY CATHY FARMER | HUMBOLDT, TN | November 25, 1998


HUMBOLDT, TN (Nov. 25, 1998) -- The phone call from Agustin Aleman

Locayo was simple and direct. "We need help," the brother of Nicaragua's

President Aleman told Dr. Gary Osborne.

"We need anything you can send," the caller said as he described the

destruction of the countryside and the thousands of deaths caused by

Hurricane Mitch. "We have no water, no clothing, no medical care; our homes

are destroyed, the roads are buried under 10 feet of mud, and the livestock

is gone."

Osborne, a psychotherapist, Sunday School teacher, and international

businessman, is intimately connected with the people of Nicaragua and the

Dominican Republic. For months, he and his business partners have been

meeting with governments in both countries, laying the groundwork for the

development of industrial parks offering employment in some of the areas of

deepest poverty.

"I think he called me because we were the first to visit one of the

hardest hit regions of the country," Osborne said. "Some months ago, my

three partners and I visited in Bluefields, on the northeast coast of

Nicaragua. Three Mosquito Indian tribes, the ones always left out (in

relief efforts), live there."

Osborne wanted to respond to the cry for help, but he knew he couldn't

do much on his own.

"I took it to my Sunday School class at New Shiloh United Methodist

Church," he said quietly. New Shiloh has been in the news a lot lately. The

church was torched a few years ago during the wave of arson fires in the

South.

Since the fire and subsequent rebuilding, the church has experienced a

resurgence in membership and involvement in mission. According to pastor

Dr. Bill Vaughan Jr., the church has gone from an average worship

attendance of 25-30 to an average of 79. And much of the impetus for that

growth comes from Osborne's young adult class.

"The whole church agreed to try to fill an 18-wheeler with toys, shoes,

water, canned goods and staples, clothes, candy and pharmaceuticals,"

Osborne said. "We've been pretty successful with the help of our sister

church, Grace, and two Baptist churches, First Baptist and Emmanuel."

Osborne's partners, Dr. Frank Avila of Nashville, Bill Rodriguez of Miami

and Charles Joseph also pitched in. Pulling in friends, they arranged for a

cargo plane to carry the supplies to Managua. AAA Cooper Transportation

donated the use of a truck and Osborne will accompany the shipment.


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