God’s Light Shines Bright Amidst the Devastation of Hurricane Matthew.
As you’ve now undoubtedly heard, Hurricane Matthew dealt a devastating blow to Haiti’s southern peninsula when it hit that island nation last week on Tuesday, October 4. At the time, Mariners Church had a team of faith adventurers in-country, visiting our partner Pastor Samuel Metelus in the area of Torbeck (west of Les Cayes). By God’s grace, our team survived the storm and was able to return home to California this past weekend. As they’ve slowly begun to share their stories, we’re hearing awesome accounts of God’s faithfulness and protection in the face of great adversity, and when they’re ready, we’ll begin sharing those stories with you.
In the meantime, our attention is focused on the immediate needs of our global church family in Haiti as they begin the slow process of recovery. We’re happy to report that Pastor Samuel, the kids, and the staff of the Glory Glory Center all survived the storm, as did many in the community who sheltered with them as the winds reached 140 miles per hour. The dorms, which were completely built of concrete, weathered the storm well, though they sustained significant water damage. All mattresses, linens, and pillows needs to be replaced, as do all of the children’s school books and supplies. Most of the children’s clothing and shoes were washed away or destroyed in the rain and tidal surge.
In what can only be described as a miracle, the fresh water well at the Glory Glory Center was untouched, and Pastor Samuel is able to provide clean drinking water to the community as concerns about the spread of cholera from contaminated water increase daily. The center’s generator also came through the storm untouched, which is a huge blessing. Unfortunately, the church/medical clinic and cafeteria lost their roofs, causing major damage to the interior of those buildings. All crops, livestock, food stores, and trees are gone, and a breach in the perimeter wall is one of Samuel’s first priorities for repair.
I’ve wondered several times over the past few days why God would put Sam and the kids in the path of another natural disaster. But when I see how Sam and his team are responding to the catastrophe, I know. From the moment he purchased the land for the Glory Glory Center in September 2012, Sam has been working to transform that community by shining God’s light into every nook and cranny. Now, in this time of great need, God’s servant is there, ready to begin God’s work of healing in this place.
Already, with the funds that Mariners Church sent to him last weekend, Sam delivered food to 200 families in the nearby town of Charlette, which until yesterday had been unreachable because of all the debris blocking the road. He’s temporarily housing seven children whose families lost everything, until their parents are able to provide them with shelter. He brought the church community together on Sunday to worship with voices strong in the open courtyard beside the church. And he desires to continue helping people rebuild their lives with small donations of construction materials (wire, plywood, sheet metal), medicine, food, and clothing, as he slowly repairs the damage done to the Glory Glory Center.
As Pastor Samuel embarks upon this journey of disaster relief and recovery, we are humbled to come alongside him to help is the best way we can, which is by giving generously. With our financial gifts, Sam will be able to purchase supplies locally, distribute aid where needed, and hire local workers to begin the job of rebuilding, not only at the Glory Glory Center, but throughout the south. Fourteen of the Church of God by Faith’s churches in the south sustained major damage. Sam described it this way, “We feel like the Devil was attacking churches.” The churches in Charlette and Rosiere, which were well known to all Mariners faith adventurers were both destroyed. (The church in Rosiere was particularly near and dear to the hearts of many in the Men’s Ministry who financed its construction.)
To give online to the Hurricane Matthew (Haiti Disaster) Relief Fund, visit www.marinerschurch.org/haiti. Checks should be made payable to Mariners Church with Haiti Disaster Relief Fund on the memo line and sent to Mariners Church, 5001 Newport Coast Drive, Irvine, CA 92603.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)