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Missionaries Broadcasting From Plane Crash on Honduras Highpoint

August 9 2004 at 6:50 PM
roger  (Login dipper)

Response to August 2004 Accidents/Rescues

For nearly four decades, Mike Hines helped to spread the word of God. As a missionary in Central America, Hines would fly above villages in a specially modified plane with large speakers, broadcasting to the people below.

Over the years, his following included thousands of converts in El Salvador and Honduras. He once asked that those who believed, signal him back with a mirror reflecting the sun toward his airplane, and his mission soon was carried out above sparkling horizons.

But Hines' airplane disappeared off the radar screen nine days ago, near the Honduran border with El Salvador. That's when Brunswick's Brian Garrett got an email.

"The plane went down at the side of the highest mountain in Honduras, called Celanqua which is about a 10,000 foot mountain."

Garrett and Burleson are part of an organization called the International Supply Operations Network, or ISON. The group's goal is to respond to tragedies first to help direct other relief agencies to the best course of action.

In the past, ISON has provided disaster relief in the Abacos following hurricane Mitch and in south Florida after hurricanes Andrew.

But now, it was time to go after a lost man of the cloth.

"The monies were not available," said Reverend Garry Wiggins of the Evangel Temple Assembly of God. "We didn't have the almost $5000 in hand to do this."

But Wiggins and Garrett, the founders of ISON were determined to go. They paid with a personal credit card, and within hours, Garrett and Dr. Burleson were on their way to Central America.

Getting to the wreck meant cutting through miles of thick jungle where danger is everywhere, from animals, poisonous plants, insects, and the terrain itself.

"The area we were maneuvering in, there are mountains and cliffs and you're walking on small ledges with significant drops below you," said Garrett.

But the team's training paid off on the fourth day. They had traversed several mountains and miles of virgin jungle when the first pieces of the plane's wreckage was discovered.

"The stabilizer was found first, then each of the wings. About a kilometer from where the first piece was we found the fuselage."

Garrett and the others had hoped Hines might be alive, but it was clear the impact had taken the life of this man who'd dedicated three decades to spreading the word of God.

A US military helicopter was radioed in to help carry the missionaries remains out of the jungle. He was buried on Friday.

For the surviving family of Mike Hines, the recovery provided closure. A special celebration of his life and ministry was held Saturday in his home of Honduras.

Garrett is grateful for his group's safe passage.

"We certainly think that God was with us, and involved and we're thankful for that."


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