On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico in almost a century, ravaged the island, knocking out all electricity, causing floods, and impacting hundreds of thousands.
The storm left Puerto Rico devastated and in need of repair. Millions of people were without power, and thousands lost their homes. The need was and continues to be great.
Disaster Relief (DR) volunteers from the SBC of Virginia responded in an incredible fashion—with reportedly the largest response from the Southern Baptist Convention. The first team arrived on October 3, carrying out their mission to prepare meals, distribute food, and help with home recovery. Teams have continued to respond, providing an ongoing presence since the initial team arrived.
This effort has led to our adoption of the city of Arecibo. Our desire is to help meet physical and spiritual needs by working with local churches and church planters for the next two years. Make no mistake, the relief and recovery ministry is the platform for sharing the love and hope that can only be found in Christ. Evangelism is the purpose of the mission.
As the hurricane made landfall, not one part of the island was spared its wrath. Coast to coast, every part of the island was impacted. Now, over five months later, there are still areas without power, and some estimates indicate there will be parts of Puerto Rico that will be without power for more than a year!
The SBCV has developed a long-term strategy through Virginia Global Response. We would love to see at least 10 SBCV churches commit to at least two trips per year for the next two years. Currently, teams are full through April, but there will be plenty of opportunities to go for the next two years, starting this May. This is no longer a Disaster Relief response, so everyone is eligible to go.
Teams will be limited to 10 volunteers at a time. In partnership with Primera Iglesia Bautista de Arecibo, lodging is provided at a mission center, where team members will sleep on bunk beds.
We are developing relationships with 6–8 Southern Baptist churches in Arecibo. The work will be a combination of food distribution, recovery, general cleanup, and other ministry opportunities that arise or are requested by one of the local churches.
The cost will be approximately $550 for airfare, and individuals can anticipate $100 for meals for the week (shopping and meal preparation will be done by the team). Due to the generous donations of SBCV churches, a van is available for ground transportation.