With disasters come opportunities to show mercy and compassion.
As I arrived in Puerto Rico the hustle of the team had already begun. The days started early and the work stretched deep into the night. I accompanied my colleagues on damage assessments in the towns hit hardest. We immediately saw the reality and severity of what the largest quakes had done. Entire homes and buildings are in shambles. The streets are quiet, piles of rubble are everywhere, and long, deep cracks in foundations are visible throughout the affected cities.
In surveying the reality of what people are dealing with, we begin to understand the immediate physical and spiritual needs of those affected.
Fear consumes thousands of Puerto Ricans and they leave their homes to retreat to camps and open air shelters. Thousands of people are sleeping outside in fear of walls collapsing around them in their sleep. Their lives are again disrupted in this latest disaster to hit the island.
Having previously been through frequent earthquakes while living in Taiwan, I am familiar with the feelings and emotions taking a toll on these people. Being woken out of a dead sleep to your house moving and the window panes shaking is something you can never really get used to.
With so many people fleeing and cities being evacuated, the whole southern coast of the island looks like it has “gone camping.” Tents have popped up in front yards, beside highways, in baseball fields, and in parking lots. Situations change so quickly from day to day, but as time goes on, camps become more structured, organized, and established as more awareness happens and aid begins to trickle in.
Within a few hours of the first cots and tents getting set up outside, our missionaries and pastors were already in the camps assisting and offering God’s assurance. Pastors go from cot to cot talking with people and hear of their emotional state and pray with them. It is evident that the emotional and psychological damage from these earthquakes is almost greater than the structural damage itself. As tremors and aftershocks continue even now, anxiety remains high in the camps. People are afraid and feel hopeless.
Each day our group shows mercy in action by setting up arts and crafts, coffee stands, and by distributing relief supply bags which are handed out in correlation with an uplifting service of the Word. They are also able to sing and worship with those who gather around.
As the ground continues to shake in Puerto Rico, the long days and great efforts of our team is possible because of the strength provided through Christ. Each day the challenges and tasks look a little different. Please pray for our missionaries in Puerto Rico as they assist with people’s anxieties and work with changing situations. The need is great, but we are fortunate to have something much greater than a temporary fix to offer; it is the cross and the ever-lasting promises of our Lord.