Years ago we learned an axiom that has proved to be a basic principle of cross-cultural ministry: Nothing for us without us. This is from the perspective of people from other cultures who have coached us in effective cross-cultural ministry. Nothing for us without us means: don’t do things for others without processing it with them, without asking their opinion, without discussing with them at the front end what you plan to do to help. Don’t come up with ideas from the outside and tell them, “This is what we are going to do for you.” That’s charity. There is no dignity in that for either the giver or the receiver.
People from within their own communities tend to know quite well what they need. In the case of the church, when there has been a clear framework of why we exist -- a clearly articulated vision for who we want to be -- local people come up with fantastic ideas, much better than any outsider could.
Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, plowed across Puerto Rico last September. It was dreadful. Twenty-five years after a similar hurricane hit South Florida, we’ve seen grown men cry when they remember the day the hurricane hit. It was a life changing experience for everyone.
There were many in the US mainland who prayed through the night as Hurricane Maria was mauling Puerto Rico. The following days we desperately tried to communicate to determine if our friends and leaders and church people were alive, and to find ways to help them survive the aftereffects of such a storm.
You have given generously to help meet their needs! The money sent has been used in remarkably creative ways. People have been treated with dignity as they have started the slow and painful process of rebuilding homes, families, and communities. Generators were used not just to bring light to churches and homes but also to provide medical help for those who need to be connected to electricity to remain alive. Food and water has been distributed. Counseling is being offered. Stories of bravery, sharing, and sacrifice abound.
The last money we sent to Puerto Rico has been used – get this! -- to purchase laundry equipment. In our church buildings our friends have installed washing machines so neighbors can wash their clothing and other items that got soaked during the storm. Their homes may not have electricity yet, but people who live near a Free Methodist Church can walk down the street with clean clothes and their dignity intact. What a great way to serve the neighborhood! I would not have thought of that.
And here we all are at the end of 2017. Those of us who live in the US have the opportunity to give a generous end of year financial gift that will also lower our taxes. I’d say: Let’s do it. Let’s send more money to our leaders in Puerto Rico. From my perspective as the overseer of the Free Methodist Church in Puerto Rico I can tell you with my hand firmly placed on a stack of Bibles that the money you send is being used in totally responsible ways. Your giving has saved lives. And the integrity and dignity of the process we have been using is something we can all be very proud of.
On this last week of the year, I invite you to give a generous gift to be sent to the leaders in Puerto Rico. They will be able to determine how to use it to rebuild lives in their communities.
Here is where you can send your end of year gift. Please be generous. Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fund
written by Delia Nüesch-Olver
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:
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.
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.
• 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.
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
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:
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!
written by Delia Nüesch - Olver
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:
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