Yemen hospital reopens
February 14 2003 by Greg Warner , Associated Baptist Press

Yemen hospital reopens | Friday, Feb. 14, 2003

Friday, Feb. 14, 2003

Yemen hospital reopens

By Greg Warner Associated Baptist Press

JIBLA, Yemen - A former Christian hospital in Yemen, site of a terrorist attack that killed three American mission workers Dec. 30, reopened Feb. 1 under a new name, new leadership and heightened security.

The facility, formerly Jibla Baptist Hospital, is now owned and operated by the Muslim-led Yemeni government. The International Mission Board (IMB) followed through with a long-planned transfer of the hospital to Yemen's ministry of health Dec. 31.

The hospital, once the most prominent Christian ministry in Yemen, had been closed since Dec. 30, when a Muslim extremist entered the 35-year-old hospital with a concealed pistol and killed a doctor and two administrators - all longtime IMB employees.

The hospital is now known simply as "Jibla Hospital" on signage and documents - the word "Baptist" was erased from the hospital sign even before the shooting. But local media are calling the facility "the hospital of peace," a name the remaining IMB workers hope becomes permanent.

One of those IMB workers, assistant administrator Lee Hixon, said he "was not very hopeful," even before the shootings, that the facility would ever open again. "God moved to reopen this hospital," he said.

The hospital is now managed by two of its own longtime employees. Administrator Abdel Karim Hassen and nursing director Abdel Karim Ali - both Yemenis - each have 20-plus years experience with the hospital's former owners. Most other hospital staffers are Yemenis.

The hospital's clinic, operating room and emergency room have reopened, said Hixon. He talked to reporters by telephone Feb. 7.

Only 14 of the hospital's previous 45 beds are open, however. And the labor and delivery facility - the special interest of slain obstetrician Martha Myers - remains closed for lack of a doctor. Only one American doctor remains - Judy Williams - who works both in the clinic and the operating room. The hospital sees about 40 patients a day, down from 130. About half of the hospital's 220-member staff left before the terrorist attack, and another 50-60 have left since, Hixon said.

The Yemeni administration would welcome more American doctors, including Christians from the IMB and other organizations, Hixon said. And, despite earlier signals to the contrary, the IMB said it is willing to appoint and support mission workers for the hospital, according to Larry Cox, IMB vice president for mobilization.

By all accounts, Christians and Muslims work peacefully side-by-side at the hospital.

The hospital now is closed Friday and Sunday, the respective Muslim and Christian days of worship.

The staff is allowed to meet every morning for prayer, Hixon said. And, for the first time, a Yemeni family is living in one of the dwellings in the 20-building hospital compound.

Twelve IMB-related Americans - workers and family members - remain in Jibla. The biggest challenge they face, Hixon said, is heightened security. "Since Dec. 30, we have been under incredible security restrictions," he said. "That's a concern of ours."

The restrictions are understandable and affect all Westerners, Hixon said. They also restrict IMB activities elsewhere in Yemen.

"It's a new normal," Hixon said. But he added, "There's a reinforced love for the people here. I'm excited to see what the Father will do. ... The group (of Americans) that are here in Jibla are special. There is ... a wonderful oneness that comes from who we are in the One."

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2/14/2003 12:00:00 AM by Greg Warner , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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