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Puerto Rico Will Rise

Puerto Rico Will Rise: A Rally Call for All of Us

Since Hurricane Maria hit land on the island of Puerto Rico on September 19th, most people are waking up each morning thinking about their basic needs: Where can we get enough water for the day? Where can we get food? Is my employer functioning enough to get me back to work? Will our food last for the day? Where can I go to the bathroom? Will my medical equipment work when I need it?

The island, still in about 60% electrical blackout, faces the most basic questions each day, still, two months after the storm. When a team of strategic leaders arrived from Costa Rica’s Shoreline District, however, they did not see a defeated people. Instead, what caught their attention were the flags and signs, ubiquitous on the island, declaring Puerto Rico se levanta, or Puerto Rico Will Rise .  It is the breath and daily rally cry for those facing challenges to rebuild their homes, businesses, schools, churches and communities.

By request of Pastor Mercedes Reynoso, from San Juan, the leaders from Costa Rica were sent on a specific mission: firstly, to comfort and to listen. It was the first of the Free Methodist teams to be sent out and the first team to bring the love and affection of the Free Methodist family from around the world. They arrived to see a church family who has risen to the occasion. Pastor Mercedes’ church, along with many other Free Methodist pastors, received us with the utmost hospitality and warmth, said one of the team members, Irena Ruiz. “They are people full of love and compassion. They are hard working and empathetic towards the needs of their neighbors. We went to bless them, and it turned out that, we were the ones being blessed.”

Secondly, the team comprised of an architect, civil engineer and a child educator, was there to assess the damage that the hurricane left behind. All three members report that the island has been completely devastated. Some from our church members have lost their homes and are living with friends or family or whomever will receive them. Those that own businesses have also been affected greatly.

One of the local bi-vocational pastors, Pastor Polanco, lost some of the equipment for his catering business. Due to the lack of electricity and clean water, cooking and maintaining the food has also been complicated. Every time they cook they have to make sure there is no food left over because there is no electricity for the refrigerators.

The devastation has caused many to leave the island looking for stable work. This, in turn, has affected the churches. There have been fewer attending since many have had to leave. Since the streets are dark at night, it also makes it unsafe to attend services held at night so services are being held in the afternoon for those who are able to attend.

But this brings us back to the anthem Puerto Rico Se Levanta.  Catalina Cordoba, one of the team members, says, “This anthem rings true with those that we met. Though they have lost everything, they have not lost their faith in God; that He will raise them up.” She also reports the generosity of the churches. “They do not have a lot, but what they have, they are sharing with those around them.  Drinking water, for example, is hard to come by and is rationed daily. Members of the church are keeping water in the trunk of their cars to have it accessible for those who need it.  They are not sitting back with their arms crossed, waiting on the government to provide.” She sees them uniting to help their communities and in prayer.

The team from Costa Rica was formed to come alongside the local Free Methodist Churches in Puerto Rico to create a plan to rebuild and repair the church buildings that are serving as a refuge for many in their communities. The plan is to help provide local jobs during the reconstruction. They ask that the anthem that is heard around the island, Puerto Rico se levanta becomes the rally cry for all of us until it truly comes to pass.

It's not too late to make a financial donation to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund.   You may do so by clicking here.

written by Andrea Green

 

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My Christmas Wish List

I’m not a shopper, but this year I am excited about Christmas shopping! Let’s give to Puerto Rican families and churches still trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria almost 2 months ago!

The Puerto Rico Electric Power’s grid is working at less than 50%, leaving much of the island in the dark with no electricity. Pastors from Puerto Rico want me to express their thanks for the generators we all sent right after the hurricane.

The generators have not only been used to provide light for some homes and church buildings, but they also make life significantly safer once the sun sets. Bad things happen in the pitch darkness, folks!

An unexpected use of the generators is that neighbors with medical needs have been showing up at the churches to use the generators for routine medical therapies that require electricity. The word has spread among the medical communities near our churches, and neighbors keep coming. Our churches have become places of respite and healing – truly holistic sanctuaries. Who would have thought that our basic generators would keep people alive?! Friends in Puerto Rico have expressed that they need a few more for specific medical purposes.

Puerto Rican people are very creative, and are making do with gas barbecue grills, daily trips to the grocery store, and wide-open windows to stay cool. But it is not fun. No electric power means no jobs. No jobs mean no money. No money means all sorts of other unpleasant things. This is an economic disaster with no end in sight.

Thankfully we can continue to help! We can continue to come alongside churches, families and children – many that have become sanctuaries both spiritually and physically. Our giving this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas can make life a little bit more bearable for our sisters and brothers on the island!

Here is my suggested gift list for Puerto Rico:

  1. Walgreens or Walmart gift cards. The gift cards you have already sent have been given to families and individuals to purchase medicine and food.
  2. Generators (Please let us know if you choose to do this, as we need just a few more.)
  3. Sawyer Water filters (The bucket kind – found at this link.)
  4. A financial gift to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund (Click here to give). This money will be used to hire local labor to help rebuild the economy, provide jobs and help families.
  5. Prayer.  Pastor Mercedes asked that we pray along these lines:  “Pray for strength and discernment as we serve people with so many needs all around us. Pray for continued good relationships in spite of frayed nerves. And pray for our health; pray that God will keep us healthy in the midst of so many things that could make us sick.”

Items 1 - 3 can be ordered and sent directly to the address below.

Pastora Mercedes Reynoso

Hacienda Real Jazmín del Mar 322

Carolina, PR 00986

(Our friends in Puerto Rico tell us that items sent via UPS are getting there, while other means of shipping are not as reliable.)

Together we can! These gifts will not only make life a bit better under awful circumstances, but also will let our friends in Puerto Rico know that we have not forgotten them.

#PuertoRicoSeLevanta #PuertoRicoYoTeVeo #IglesiaMetodistaLibrePuertoRico

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Help provide clean water and electricity to PR

A recent Newsweek article states that ever since Hurricane Maria hit on October 4, 80% of the people in Puerto Rico still don’t have electricity. “The lack of electricity means water treatment facilities and purification systems are not fully functional, and some people turn to bacteria-contaminated water for relief in the humid, 80-degree weather.”

According to Pastor Mercedes Reynoso, the situation is very, very difficult. Probably the worst is the lack of sufficient drinking water in a very hot climate, and the instability in terms of food and safety. She, as always, has a foolproof spirit and testifies to a very strong presence of God in the midst of an indescribable crisis.

Luis sending generatorsAs of today, at least 3 donated generators been received by our members in Puerto Rico and 7 more are en route.  We give special thanks to Luis, a member of one of our churches in Tampa, FL, who has worked diligently to save almost $4,000 in shipping costs. Likewise, suitcases of water filters have been delivered and more will arrive with a team of people going from California on November 6.

That being said, this is just a drop in the bucket. The needs are great and the recovery effort in Puerto Rico will be long!   On behalf of our friends who are suffering, thanks to so many who have generously given finances, generators and water filters to help alleviate some of these needs. It is not too late for you to help provide for the basic needs of clean water or electricity to people in Puerto Rico. Please help us help Puerto Rico recover by donating here.  Puerto Rico Recovery Fund  

 

 

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Friday, Oct. 20 Puerto Rico Update

 Our sources in Puerto Rico tell us it will be many months before electricity is restored.  
 
Superintendent Mercedes Reynoso says it is a priority to have a generator for each church and each pastor’s family so that they can minister to others. Our churches and pastors’ homes have become centers of respite, counseling, and aid distribution. This is a project for a family, Sunday School class, small group or church.  
 
We finally found a reliable way to send the generators when UPS started delivering in Puerto Rico again. Here are 2 good options to channel your help. (I said reliable not cheap!)
 

• You can purchase a new generator wherever you are and ship it via UPS. This will be a significant blessing as people in Puerto Rico have been without electricity for almost 4 weeks already. Shipping costs start at $140 per generator depending on the weight and where your are shipping from.  It will take a week to get there.  UPS is open until 6 PM Mo-Sat.

  • Please note:  In Puerto Rico gasoil generators are much cheaper to run than regular gas, but they will use whatever you send.

  •  Purchase the quietest generator you can find. 3000 watts or higher.

  •  Ship them to the following address and let me know (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) so they can know what to expect:

     •  Pastora Mercedes Reynoso

     •  Hacienda Real Jazmín del Mar 322

     •  Carolina, PR 00986 

 

  •  We continue to gather money to purchase generators at about $430 each. To give money towards a generator, please click on the link below. Write GENERATOR in the comment box. We will find volunteers to buy generators in the mainland and mail them via UPS.

• Puerto Rico Recovery Fund  


Please continue to pray for strength and wisdom for our brothers and sisters living an unbelievable crisis. Pray that God will protect their minds, emotions, and health as they deal with their new normal. Also, pray for the children.
 
Thank you!  Thank you!

written by Delia Nüesch-Olver
 

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Puerto Rico Recovery Update

We have been touched by the outpouring of interest in helping our people in Puerto Rico who continue to live in a crisis situation nearly a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
 
Here are ways you can remain engaged:

  1. Pray.  On Monday October 16 Pastora Mercedes said: “We need God to give us strength and wisdom to respond to the crisis all around us. Pray that God will protect our minds and our emotions as we deal with this new normal. Also, pray that God will keep us all healthy in spite of the unsanitary conditions all around us. And please please pray that God will specially take care of our children." 
  2. Purchase Walmart or Walgreens gift cards and send them to Puerto Rico Hurricane Recovery, 770 N High School Road, Indianapolis, IN 46214.  We are regularly sending these cards to Puerto Rico so families and individuals are able to purchase whatever they need as soon as it is available. 
  3. Help with generators.  We continue to gather money to purchase generators at $430 each. Our sources tell us it will be many months before electricity is restored.   Superintendent Reynoso says it is a priority to have a generator for each church and each pastor’s family so that they can minister to others. Our churches have become centers of respite, counseling, and aid distribution. This is a project for a family, Sunday School class, small group or church.  

To give money towards a generator, please click on the link below. Write GENERATOR in the comment box.
Puerto Rico Recovery Fund
 
On behalf of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, mil gracias!
Puerto Rican Children
written by Delia Nüesch - Olver
 
 
 

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Today's Report from Puerto Rico

The FM leaders in Puerto Rico are asking us to help them help others.  We can all do that by either giving financially to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund or sending Walmart Gift Cards to Free Methodist World Ministry Center, 770 N High School Road, Indianapolis, IN 46214.   For more details, please watch this video from Bishop David Roller...and share it with your friends and family!

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4 Ways to help Puerto Rico Today

The local newspaper of Puerto Rico, El Nuevo Día, reported today that the island ravaged by Hurricane Maria last week is “perhaps hours away from facing a major social crisis.”  International news outlets report that the lack of communication, electricity, fuel, food and fresh water have resulted in a lack of medical attention on the island (there isn’t much a hospital can do without these valuable resources).  Therefore, they are expecting a severe outbreak of disease among the 3.4 million people who live there. 

Some damage to FM property.
Picture depicts some damage to FM Property.

According to Free Methodist Bishop David Roller, “Although communication is not yet fully restored, we are getting reports out of Puerto Rico of extensive damage to homes and Free Methodist churches. Everyone and everything got wet — some much worse than that. We thank God that we haven’t heard of any loss of life among our community.”

He continues, “the long slow path to recovery begins...This is the time for us to stand alongside our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico.”

I would like to suggest 4 specific ways to do this:

1.     Pray for the people of Puerto Rico in this time of need.  Pray alone, with your family, and with your church.  Pray for all of the many needs and pray for supernatural strength for the church leaders as they minister to the people around them while at the same time dealing with the trauma that affects them as well.  Also, pray for the US Government to provide more emergency support.

2.     Give to the Puerto Rico Recovery fund.   FM Leadership is working with Superintendent Mercedes Reynoso to develop a list of priorities in how to best use the money donated.  Click here to donate now.

3.     Purchase Wal-Mart or Walgreens gift cards and send them to Puerto Rico Hurricane Recover, 770 N High School Road, Indianapolis, IN 46214.  On October 9 – and then regularly after that – they will be sent to Puerto Rico so that as soon as groceries and medical supplies are available, people in our churches will be able to purchase them.

4.     Spread the word so that others can join us in this effort for recovery in Puerto Rico.

written by Beth Gómez

 

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Puerto Rico Recovery Fund

 

On Wednesday, September 20, Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, hit Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds and torrential rains.  While Maria has officially passed, there are still very powerful winds and heavy rains. Flash flooding and mudslides could be more deadly than the initial winds from the storm.

Delia Nüesch-Olver, Area Director for Latin America, has been in contact with Free Methodist friends and colleagues in Puerto Rico.  She reports that our colleagues, Supintendent Mercedes Reynoso and Pastor Dan Perdomo are safe and sound.  Contact has not been made with all of the other local pastors. Please pray for the people in Puerto Rico and for our FM family in that country. 

The Free Methodist Church will mobilize and use its resources to assist where most needed in response to Hurricane Maria. If you’d like to contribute, please do click to give to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund.

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The Essence of Our Ministry

The goal of Free Methodist World Missions in Latin America is to fuel and sustain a biblical movement to reach Latin Americans for Christ. Many ways exist to approach such an immense challenge, but a clear and consistent sense of direction from the Lord provides focus: We develop leaders and plant churches.

As area director for Latin America, I concentrate my best efforts and continually challenge all teams I lead toward empowering and coaching national leaders. Missionary transitions may occur because of personal calling, family needs and local circumstances. National leaders, however, tend to live in their countries for life. Together, we invest our best in them, equipping them for the present and preparing them for the future.

The coaching and empowering of leaders take a variety of shapes:

  1.  Annual leadership conferences in each country have been well-accepted. These training events are open to all who attend Free Methodist churches and are required for pastors and ministerial candidates to attend. Many lay leaders enthusiastically participate. They often take vacation time from work, pay their expenses and travel long distances to be present. Current and future leaders understand they play a vital part in the development of the church in their own countries and are eager to be trained to do it well.

  2. Our new pastoral formation system is up and running. This well-received system prepares pastors for effective ministry and ordination. It establishes and trains Ministerial Education and Guidance (MEG) boards in every district while coaching each Ministerial Appointment Committee (MAC) toward health.

  3. In some countries, the church is highly educated. In some others, it isn’t. The system welcomes people where they are and takes them to the next level in their education and preparation for effective and contextualized ministry.

  4. Mission district leaders are offered personalized coaching to internalize, contextualize and implement what they have learned at leadership conferences and through participating in and implementing the new pastoral formation system.

  5. We model decentralization at every level and encourage the use of technology for peer mentoring among leaders in different countries.

There are many ways of catalyzing initiatives and partnerships to plant clusters of churches in strategic cities. Countless church planting techniques have been used. At a recent Latin America Mission District Leaders Summit in Medellín, Colombia, all gladly agreed that Community Church Planting is our official strategy moving forward. Community Church Planting is a biblical, grassroots strategy that embraces, trains and catalyzes church planters at multiple levels of spiritual and leadership development.

This mission and vision have been broadly owned. Leaders of different countries and at different levels of official responsibilities encourage each other, share best practices and openly cheer each other on. Missionaries work together with focus on the mission, vision and values contextualized to the countries they serve. Most Free Methodist missionaries minister in several Latin American countries, and all contribute meaningfully to the goal of fueling and sustaining a biblical movement to reach our continent for Christ.

All of this results in delightful teams throughout the continent serving God together with good ministry traction and fruitfulness. A sense of identity grows as the Free Methodist Church continues to move forward in Latin America across the broad diversity of countries and cultures where we are privileged to serve.

written by Dra. Delia Nüesch-Olver

Total Eclipse?

During this widely anticipated solar eclipse, darkness prevails over light..only for a matter of minutes...but based upon current events, I have found myself wondering if we're in the midst of a much greater eclipse.

 

On a recent family trip, we visited cities that seemed to be filled with desperation. In one city, the metro stations were practically plastered with adds for Suicide and Depression Help-Lines. Indeed, as we walked about, it seemed the lack of hope was contagious...UNTIL we walked into a church on Sunday morning! What we found was the most ethnically, economically and generationally diverse congregation we've ever seen worshiping...not just going through the motions, but really worshiping God! That congregation was challenged through a Scripture based sermon to fulfill the Great Commission. "...Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age..," (Matthew 28:19-20) Knowing the impact of that particular church on its community and indeed the world, I have no doubt they responded to the message.

 

We came home to watch news reports of racial clashes in the USA, terrorist attacks in Spain, complete civil unrest in neighboring Venezuela and, this week, a devastating neighborhood fire here in Medellín that left 108 families without homes. The issues seemed too overwhelming...UNTIL we went to church! Pastor John Jairo challenged the church with the Great Commission...to reach even the last little corner of the valley we live in for Christ. This week, the message was intensified and groups are being mobilized to go and help the victims in the fire-ravaged neighborhood of Moravia.

 

Then, after church, we got to meet Brayen (pronounced Brian) a young man who after eavesdropping on small group meetings in his home, approached the leader and said that based upon what he’d been over-hearing, he was convinced that his gang-ridden neighborhood needed a church.  He even offered to pay to rent the space. Brayen, covered in tattoos with his flat-billed hat pulled low, stood at the door of the theater where our church meets peppering Ricardo with questions like "How do I resist temptation?"

 

We learned that Brayen supplies coffee for a network of other young men who then sell it in downtown. We know that "selling coffee" in downtown Medellín is, in most cases, actually a cover for drug and prostitution rings. Andres and Rossemberg, the small group leaders who are opening the work in his neighborhood, said they prefer to think that Brayen's team is not involved in such things. If, however, the contrary is true, how exciting to think that God could be using these two faithful servants to share Christ with Brayen and in turn transform an evil system into something good! We believe that Brayen is a "person of peace" and will reach a whole new sector of society. Please pray for Brayen as he grows in relationship with Christ and for Rossemberg, Andres and the other members of our church as they spread God's light into the darkest corners of the Medellín Valley!

 

Desperation, pain and sin WILL NOT eclipse the hope of Christ! Darkness WILL NOT prevail against light! Christ won that battle on the cross and then He sent HIS CHURCH (that's you and me) to provide hope to the nations! Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

 

While the eclipse might be an intersting thing to watch, we CANNOT sit back and watch evil eclipse goodness in our world! We have a mission to fulfill and we are not alone in it, He is with us...even till the end of the age. We MUST let our light shine. These aren't suggestions for just a few...they are commandments for all believers. IT IS TIME to stand up for Christ and spread His hope to the nations!

 

written by Beth Gómez

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