The Ponce Carnaval is world famous for its colorful masks, strange traditions, and week-long festivities. Our very first weekend in Ponce happened to fall on the same date as this major tradition, and the location being rented for our worship facility happens to be right in the middle of the parade route, which was scheduled to pass by at the very moment of our normally scheduled service time!
Because of this, we determined that it would be difficult to have worship service at the regularly scheduled time, so together with some of the existing church members, we put on an outreach activity to invite people in the street to our upcoming Lenten services. It was an incredible opportunity, so we got together as a group and provided cold bottled water, candy for kids, and invitations to our Ash Wednesday service to passers by from the central square.
It was an amazing way to begin ministry in Ponce, working together with our small congregation there to share the love of Jesus with those around us, and to give a “cup of cold water” to those physically thirsty in order to invite them to receive the water of life from our pulpit later in the week. Although we didn’t plan it this way, we were struck later by how appropriate it was to give out free bottles of water, as the name of the congregation in Ponce is “Fuente de Vida” or “Fountain of Life.”
Already from the short time that we have been in the city, it is clear that the situation in Puerto Rico is incredibly difficult. Many people are struggling with depression and anxiety, and a general sense of hopelessness and despair hangs over the island. In addition to many other things, our half of the island is also facing a major drought, and in some parts of the cities they are rationing the water supply, yet the true drought in Puerto Rico is the spiritual thirst that we have found in almost every conversation from the moment we arrived.
What a privilege and a gift then, to be sent here to provide the water of life which comes from the bottomless well of the Living Rock which is Christ!