After heavy rains caused the San José River in the municipal district of Apartadó, in Antioquía, Colombia, to overflow, Seventh-day Adventists moved quickly to provide shelter and gather relief supplies to help dozens of families affected.
“It was a challenging experience for us,” said Jhon Jairo, one of those affected by the flooding. “Before we knew it, the river overflowed and swept away everything that we had. The community was left with nothing. My ranch came all down.”
Church leaders, along with church member volunteers, moved quickly to open two Adventist churches to shelter 110 affected families. “We began working with a food center thanks to the donations of relief goods sent in from other Adventist churches,” said Rafael Paez, leader in the Apartadó Adventist church. “Praise God, and thanks to them, we were able to offer food to those affected.”
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Colombia director Jair Florez met with the mayor’s office and officials of emergency disaster response in the district to evaluate the needs of those affected.
“We worked closely with the response officials to assist in the aftermath,” Florez said. According to official figures, 2,656 families were affected, totaling more than 9,000 people. Florez said 29 Adventist families were among them.
ADRA Colombia and the West Central Colombian Conference distributed mattresses, stoves, non-perishable food, clothes, and cleaning kits to dozens of families.
“From the moment that we found out about the situation, the Nueva Sión and the Renacer Adventist churches opened their doors to provide refuge,” said Manuel Mogollón, district leader in Apartadó. The church also opened its school as a shelter. “We provided breakfast, lunch, and dinners and provided clothes and food for many persons affected during that week.”
Youth ambassadors, Pathfinders, and Master Guides joined in assisting with the relief efforts, cleaning affected homes and distributing meals and relief supplies.
“We have trained young people, a membership dedicated to serving others, and I believe that their efforts were key in this process that we have been assisting in,” Mogollón said.
Municipal leaders thanked volunteers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for their assistance and quick response in assisting so many.
“I am so thankful for everything that the church has done, for thanks to them and God, they have provided food and shelter to children, adults, and even our pets,” Jhon Jairo said.
Church leaders said that local churches in Apartadó will continue to provide assistance as needed to many still recovering from the disaster.