A Challenge Becomes an Opportunity for Mission in St. Croix

Abraham Schrock turned loss into blessing as he helped with church rebuilding.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
A Challenge Becomes an Opportunity for Mission in St. Croix
Abraham Schrock, a Seventh-day Adventist construction company owner from Ohio, United States, smiles on his last day helping build the framing at Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Croix, on April 11. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

The departure of eight workers at his construction company in Ohio, United States, hit Abraham Schrock hard. “It threw me on my face and humbled me,” Abraham says. “So, I had to come to the Lord and to the conclusion to scale back on my life, on my personal wants, and seek purpose.”

His purpose became clear in this instance, just as it had when he became a Seventh-day Adventist six years ago, after leaving the Amish community where he grew up. “I wanted to do something to help others,” he says. Abraham reached out to an old friend who has connections in St. Croix—a place he and his family loved to visit on vacation—to see if anyone needed help.

Joining the Rebuilding Efforts

When Abraham heard that Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Croix had been largely destroyed by a fire and still needed restoration, he knew he could put his construction skills to good use. The congregation has been meeting under a large tent since the fire in 2020. Abraham contacted the church’s head elder, Herman Ravariere, in January.

Ravariere has been overseeing the reconstruction of the church building as a general contractor and welcomed Abraham and several of his construction workers to the ongoing rebuilding efforts.

Plans were set for Abraham to help install a new ceiling along with three other workers. He packed up his tools, and he, his family, and his employees traveled to St. Croix.

“The day we showed up, for some reason the engineering for the air conditioning had changed, so we could not work on the ceiling,” Abraham says. They looked around and noticed there was much to be done elsewhere. “We framed the ceilings, framed under the balcony, the porch needed framing, the flooring up there, put walls up, and built sets of stairs as well,” he said.

Being Part of Evangelistic Efforts

It so happened that Abraham and his family and friends arrived just days before the launch of the island-wide Impact 24 “Your Journey to Joy” evangelism effort. The series, which began on March 30, is led by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Croix in partnership with the church’s General Conference Treasury Department, Inter-American Division, Caribbean Union, and North Caribbean Conference.

Abraham and his team constructed a small building behind the large tent where members worship every week and where the two-week evangelistic series was held. Earl Esdaile, Peter’s Rest church pastor, said the small structure was used every evening by the guest evangelist and platform participants and will also be put to use as a good space in which the pastor can minister to church members during the week.

Abraham says he and his family thoroughly enjoyed the evangelistic series and witnessed four baptisms on April 6. “It’s a blessing to see people’s hearts convicted to let go of sin, let go of self, and surrender to the Lord,” he says. “It’s wonderful how the Lord works.”

A total of 14 people were baptized during the evangelistic series, one of whom was Jerisner Saint Louis, who became the first member of the Haitian community to be baptized on the island. Saint Louis and dozens more have been studying the Bible and will need to have a space in which to worship in their own language, Esdaile says. “We want to continue to minister to them and the rest of their families and friends.”

Restoring the Church Continues

There is still a lot of work to do to finish the church, Abraham says. He plans to return to help the project in whatever is needed. Whenever his new friend Herman Ravariere calls him back for more work on the church, he will be ready.

“This was the best vacation I have ever had here, working every day for the mission of this church,” Abraham says. “[Herman] put us up in a home, and we were able to be part of this reconstruction.” He shares that he wants to be in missionary construction as the Lord leads. “It’s all about supporting the work of the mission,” he says.

Esdaile says he is thankful for the commitment of Abraham and his friends.

The church continues its rebuilding efforts every week and will do so into the months ahead, church leaders say. “We are hoping to finish the main parts of the sanctuary in December and possibly inaugurate the church by summer,” Esdaile says.

Thanks to the insurance funds from the fire, funds from the conference, and the dedication of church members, the church will soon be restored, Esdaile says. “Our members have sacrificed so much, contributing with their offerings to help finish the church.”

Seeing the church restored and filled with the 500-to-600-seat main sanctuary space, a balcony, and a large media room in the back, as well as a conference room and a library will be a blessing to the community, Esdaile says. The only space unaffected by the fire is being used as Sabbath School classrooms and restrooms on the ground floor.

More Room to Grow

Esdaile, born and raised in St. Croix, says the church has plenty of room to grow. The current membership is nearly 200, and the recent evangelistic series has propelled the commitment of active members and local and foreign Bible workers to keep spreading the gospel, to reach deeper into their community.

It’s about being more visible and available, Esdaile says. “Our goal is to have the church open every day, not just on Sabbath morning or Wednesdays, but have the doors open to minister to the community as a center of influence with health trainings, counseling, and more activities for the children and youth.

“As a pastor, my goal is for God to use Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist Church as a transforming agent in this community, impacting lives holistically for time and eternity.”

Esdaile, who also oversees the Christiansted Adventist church as part of his district, said the board members of Peter’s Rest church have their sights set on building another structure to function as a community center once the church is completed.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News