By Rick Burnette
Preparing for another day of pastoral duties at Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis in Carolina, a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Rev. Jesus Garcia felt the earth move during the early hours of January 7. With loss of electricity throughout Puerto Rico, a strong 6.6 quake followed, causing extensive damage in an area along the south of the island.
Closer to the epicenter, a fellow Baptist pastor in the southern town of Guayanilla reported that because his church survived the quake, local people, fearing the collapse of their homes, had begun to seek refuge on the church campus.
Over the following days, as quakes continued to rock Puerto’s Rico’s southern coast, Rev. Garcia and fellow church members made several trips to the affected area, offering support for two sister churches in Yauco and Guayanilla that have been assisting congregants and neighbors.
Besides offering a place to sleep, the churches are providing meals for those displaced by the ongoing seismic activity.
Additionally, the cooperating Baptist congregations constructed bath facilities at Iglesia Bautista de Guayanilla. The four-stall shower is a welcome relief for 80 people staying at the church; most of whom are not church members.
To facilitate the earthquake recovery efforts, grants of $5,000 from CBF Domestic Disaster Response and $2,000 from CBF Florida have been made available to Iglesia Bautista de Metrópolis, a congregation affiliated with CBF Florida and the American Baptist Churches.
Asked whether volunteer teams are needed specifically for the Puerto Rico earthquake response, Rev. Garcia replied that it is too currently early to tell. However, he requested continued prayers and giving.
Despite lingering anxieties from the ongoing quakes, Rev. Garcia reports that there is a wonderful spirit of cooperation, sharing a quote of Pastor Juan Nelson Medina of Iglesia Bautista de Guayanilla who observed that “the quakes have broken the barrier between the community and the church.”
To support earthquake response efforts of CBF, please considering making a donation by check designated to “Earthquake Response” payable to “CBF,” and sent to:
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
P.O. Box 102972
Atlanta, GA 30368-2972