October 22, 2016

After Hurricane Matthew, Adventists Share Water and Encouragement in Caribbean

Inter-American Division

Seventh-day Adventist leaders have teamed up with ADRA to distribute supplies and offer encouragement to thousands of families affected by Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean Sea.

Hurricane Matthew killed about 900 people in Haiti and then tore through Cuba and The Bahamas, destroying hundreds of buildings, including at least seven Adventist churches.

No deaths among Seventh-day Adventists have been reported, said Israel Leito, president of the church’s Inter-American Division, who maintained daily telephone contact with church leaders in Haiti, Cuba, and The Bahamas during the storm.

“We express our sympathy to the citizens living in our union territories affected by the hurricane and praise the Lord for the protection of the lives of His people,” Leito said.

The damage suffered by church properties is to be assessed next week.

Leonard Johnson, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, which covers The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos, flew on a small plane on Oct. 13 to distribute water and offer encouragement to church members on Grand Bahama Island, one of the worst hit areas. He said he was touched to see members of the Shiloh Adventist Church feeding more than 300 people every day for nearly a week, starting hours after the hurricane knocked down power lines and damaged homes. About 60 percent of the island remains without electricity.

“Many of the members had damage to their homes, yet they concerned themselves for others,” Johnson said. “I was so touched and moved, at a loss for words at seeing how they manifested the love of Jesus to others with their dedication in reaching to others.”

Leaders of the Shiloh Adventist Church prepared to assist the community days before the hurricane struck.

Six Adventist churches in Freeport sustained damage but are running services normally, Johnson said. A seventh church, the Westend Adventist Church on the western end of Grand Bahamas, is closed after suffering major damage to its structure.

Leonardo Rahming, ADRA director for the Atlantic Caribbean region, said that supplies have been distributed throughout The Bahamas to meet immediate needs.

“ADRA with its volunteers has been on the ground, being instrumental in bringing immediate relief to vulnerable families with food packages, tarpaulin, blankets, portable stoves, and more,” Rahming said.