By Bill Bray, ASSIST News Service Special Correspondent
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (ANS, October 6, 2017) – Christian Aid, like most faith-based American missions, is finding new ways to work around the logistical gridlock that has isolated Puerto Rico from the outside world. A semi-official transportation crisis still prevents aid from the mainland reaching the island even three weeks after Hurricane Maria.
Yesterday, mission leaders expanded fundraising efforts, increasing their appeals to collect finances and ship emergency aid in new ways.
These new appeals will buy small portable generators, and other aid, which Christian Aid plans to deliver on a 50-foot boat sailing from Florida. Contributions for Puerto Rican relief can be made online using Gift Code 097DIS-PR at www.ChristianAid.com
The entire electrical power grid was destroyed as 155 mile-per-hour winds leveled the island September 20, and it will take months to restore electricity. In one day, the territory of Puerto Rico, went from a positive supporter of missions to an object of Christian charity and outreach.
“As of yesterday, we still have no way to communicate with the people we know,” says Latin American Director Luis Janiero, who is also collecting and distributing aid for earthquake survivors in Mexico as well.
“We’re calling daily,” he says, “to establish communications and deliver relief to survivors.” Most have now been without cell phone communication, water or power for three weeks.
Janiero says he personally sees the hurricane as an unprecedented opportunity for Christian witness. “This is an opportunity for Christians and churches to show practical love, to shine a light for Jesus Christ among Puerto Ricans, so many who have been caught up in legalism and cultic religion.
“This is a way for new spiritual life to arise,” he insists optimistically, “we are facing a massive disaster but we have a people on the ground there and it’s a great opportunity for them to show God’s love.”
Glenview Baptist, a partner church of Christian Aid in Ponce, has given up to 30% of their missions’ budgets to indigenous missions in Nepal and China. Now, the storm has knocked out their powerful TV ministry to the 3.4 million people of Puerto Rico. Like other projects, Luis says he has not been able to re-establish communications.
Thankfully, only 34 are officially dead because of the hurricane but thousands and still missing and 80% of the homes and buildings have been destroyed. Disaster fatigue and shortages are being blamed by some for the slow response of American aid to the island but many Puerto Ricans feel they are being discriminated against.
Puerto Rico is still seen as a mission field by some although it has more churches per square mile than most urban areas in the mainland USA. It was awarded to the United States as spoils after the Spanish American War in the1898 Treaty of Paris along with Guam and the Philippines.
Photo captions: 1) Hurricane Relief. 2) Bill Bray.
About the writer: Bill Bray is a Christian author and missionary journalist who specializes in Christian reporting for ASSIST News. He ministers free of charge and depends on faith offerings and gifts to carry on his journalistic mission. Gifts for his support may be sent to www.OSMission.org, Gift Code 099-WTB. He is the author of, Called to All: How I discovered the power of a yielded life from WestBow Press. He welcomes interaction with our readers and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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