SAMARITAN’S PURSE IS ASSISTING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ON FOUR ISLANDS TO BOUNCE BACK AFTER HURRICANES IRMA AND MARIA DEVASTATED THE REGION.
As Pastor Nolan Nanton prepared to lead a prayer meeting in January at the New Testament Baptist Church on the island of St. Martin, he stopped and gazed upward. It was a scene he knew all too well—the church sanctuary without a roof. It had been shredded four months earlier when Hurricane Irma pummeled the island of St. Martin.
Lord, where are we going to get the funds to fix our roof? he prayed once again.
Although Pastor Nolan’s home and church building were damaged in the hurricane, he continued to trust that God would provide.
Pastor Nolan’s home had also been heavily damaged by Irma’s monstrous winds. Living with his family in his office in the church basement, he empathised with the financial struggles of his congregation.
“I didn’t have the heart to go to our people and say, ‘We need to give now to the rebuilding of the church,’ knowing they themselves had been devasted by the storm,” he recalled. “The only thing I knew to do was to pray.”
When Pastor Nolan descended the steps to the fellowship hall on that Wednesday evening in early January, he sensed God was tugging at his heart. He approached the group and stated: “Listen church, I believe God wants us to go upstairs and pray in the sanctuary. We’re going to pray for the favour of God so we can see the hand of God.”
Though the sanctuary was dark and debris was strewn everywhere, the church members circled up, held hands and cried out to God. “Turn Your eyes toward the New Testament Baptist Church, dear Lord,” Pastor Nolan prayed fervently. “O God, speak to the four corners of the earth. You have somebody somewhere and we need You to send them our way.”
How did God answer? “That’s when He brought Samaritan’s Purse to us,” Pastor Nolan said. “I praise the Lord for His goodness.”
Our teams are repairing or rebuilding more than 100 churches across the Caribbean that were damaged or destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
In the ensuing weeks, our team connected with the pastor and in partnership with the church, began rebuilding its roof. The job was completed this spring.
“He brought Samaritan’s Purse to us. I praise the Lord for His goodness.”
A surge in people visiting the church has followed. “We didn’t have enough room downstairs to hold everybody, so we put up a tent outside and that filled,” Pastor Nolan noted. “People were coming looking for hope. After hearing the Gospel, a few have given their hearts to Christ.”
Ongoing Relief Efforts
Nine months since Irma and then Hurricane Maria ravaged the Caribbean, Samaritan’s Purse is responding with one of the largest reconstruction projects we’ve ever undertaken. In cooperation with local churches, we’ve deployed teams to St. Martin, Barbuda, Dominica, and Puerto Rico to repair or rebuild up to 3,000 houses and over 100 churches.
We’re also working to meet an array of other needs—from restoring livelihoods to providing clean water. Through a variety of projects, we want everyone we help to know they can find lasting hope in Jesus Christ. Here are just a few examples:
When Hurricane Maria hammered Dominica, Auls Dorsett and his wife Cranie initially huddled in their bathroom. When the roof blew off, they crammed into a corner cabinet next to their kitchen sink and waited out the storm in there. Then for seven months they lived in a tent underneath their elevated home on an isolated mountainside. In April, we hired local construction workers to fix their roof and those of their neighbours. “I’m so happy for your help so we can finally move back into our house,” Auls said. “I say thanks from the bottom of my heart, not for me only, but for all of us living up here.”
On Barbuda, we’re helping children rebound after they, too, experienced Irma. Our team built and replaced a backboard on the island’s only basketball court so children can shoot hoops after school. Following sports activities, we share Bible stories and teach them how to follow Jesus. Our staff helped them write letters to children on Dominica, expressing what they were feeling and asking their counterparts how they were coping. Kamora, who is 10 years old, wrote to Sarah: “I am sorry about what happened to your country. It happened to my country too. We love you. Samaritan’s Purse will fully take care of all of us that go through the same thing.” Sara, 12, responded: “I am also very sorry for you. Water was all inside the house. I was terrified. We are so lucky to be alive.” After reading Sarah’s letter, Kamora said, “I am sorry about what happened. It made me want to cry.” Regarding the new basketball hoop, she said, “You are making us feel better. You are helping us to have fun.”
Our staff on Dominica are helping families in the poultry, fishing, and horticultural businesses regain their livelihoods. To aid poultry farmers, we’re rebuilding shelters, replacing chickens, and restocking feed. “The roof blew off my chicken house and I lost a lot of my birds,” said Vincent Younis, a poultry farmer since 2000. “I appreciate the help from Samaritan’s Purse.” At the same time, to keep large catches of fish from spoiling, we’re replacing refrigeration systems at fishing cooperatives and also replenishing tools and other supplies lost during the hurricane. And we’re rebuilding greenhouses and drip-irrigation systems.
We’re still providing clean, safe drinking water on Barbuda and Dominica. Every day Ganford James comes to our desalination station on Barbuda to fill up jugs and take them back home, where he’s fixing up his damaged house. We put tarpulin on his roof and provided a generator after Irma hit. “God bless Samaritan’s Purse. Thumbs up to you,” he said. On Dominica, in addition to trucking in water to isolated communities, our teams are fixing tarpaulins, toilets and other broken plumbing at primary and secondary schools. “It gave me joy that someone helped and cared about us,” said Kurtis Alcendor, a 6th-grade student at Grand Bay Primary School.
As the Caribbean prepares for another hurricane season, Pastor Jorge Sosa has taken extra precaution to ready his little church near Ponce, Puerto Rico. He and two of his deacons, all in their 70s, had been making repairs at the church that was destroyed by Maria. But the job was just too big for them to do by themselves. Samaritan’s Purse came alongside them and provided the materials, labour, and funds to rebuild a weatherproof roof and reopen the sanctuary. Pastor Jorge requested that the new pulpit be cast in concrete. “It’s not going anywhere,” he said. “Another hurricane will hit, but the pulpit will still be here.”
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