We know many have been asking about friends impacted by the earthquakes in Mexico and hurricanes hitting Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other islands in the Caribbean -- wondering how people are doing and what can be done to help. Here is a collection of updates we've received so far from our partners who are on the ground working to help neighbors and rebuild communities in areas devastated by these natural disasters. Several have action items included as well. Email Allison or LeDayne if you have something to add.
Help support the ongoing relief efforts of our friends in Mexico and Puerto Rico!
from the BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz board and staff
We know that you, like us, have been deeply saddened by the natural disasters that have recently swept up so many of our sisters and brothers in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the south of the USA.
We have been in touch with partners and friends in Puerto Rico and Mexico who are in the midst of the most affected areas by the recent hurricanes and earthquakes. Though everyone we've contacted is fine physically, they are also emotionally overwhelmed and deeply involved in recovery efforts.
Now we must be agents of the Kingdom of God
from Asaf Vera Baltodano
Although the people responded quickly to the disaster, that commitment of the people was in the short-term. But, people of God, our commitment must be maintained for all of our lives. For us, the Christian Being meant (and means) to provide our services, open our communities as a shelter, receive and manage financial resources, always offer our hearts of solidarity, smile as a sign of hope to all affected, to work on a reconstruction project, etc. To this day, God's people are holding on with the firm hope that Peace and the wellbeing of every person should be our goal. And this is what guides my faith. We cannot continue to be spectators on this earth.
A Report from Mexico
from Ximena Ulloa Montemayor & Shalom Baptist Church
September 7 earthquake: 96 dead people (estimate)
Affected housing: Over 85 thousand
September 19: 344 dead people (estimate)
Mexico City: 205
State of Mexico: 13
Affected housing: 190 thousand buildings affected (estimate) We believe that it can be more since in some areas aid has not arrived.
As Shalom Baptist Church has been responding in these ways: Aid for food, medicine, clothes to Oaxaca by the earthquake of September 7. As well as support for Chiapas.
A look into poverty, inequality, and marginalization in the aftermath of Mexico's earthquakes
by Beatriz Ulloa Montemayor
A week after the earthquake of 7.1 with the epicenter in the municipality of Axochiapan, Morelos a total of 338 people have been reported dead.1 Of the total 199 were in Mexico City, 74 in the state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in the State of Mexico, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.
The earthquake affected mainly the center of the country, however, it should not be forgotten that few weeks ago on September 7, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake with the epicenter on the coast of the state of Chiapas (Pijijiapán) affected the south of the country, the strongest tremor recorded for a century. A total of 96 people died; the state of Oaxaca was the most affected with 76 deaths, Chiapas with 15 people dead and four in Tabasco.2 There are records of more than 85 thousand homes affected3 in different municipalities of Chiapas and Oaxaca, states that have the highest poverty rates in the entire Mexican territory.
An update from Chiapas
from Dalia Juárez Fernández (SIM)
In these days of pain in our country, it is necessary to give birth to hope in the midst of our hearts, to the lives that have been hard hit by losing homes, family, health, emotional stability and even spiritual.
Thank you for keeping this Mexican people in your prayers and thoughts.
An Update and List of Supplies for Puerto Rico
from Laura Ivelisse Ayala
Greetings! Please know that showing your concern and willingness to help means a lot, so thanks in advance and keep us in your prayers! As you may have heard in the news, this hurricane was of unexpected proportions. I have to admit that not having electricity has helped me not be distracted by details about devastation. Nonetheless we feel it and live it every day.
As a result, we joined efforts with other community members and leaders to assist the most vulnerable in our community in Rio Piedras (San Juan). Our building became the "Operations Center". There we (people from all personal, social, economic, political and religious backgrounds) identified needs, planned, coordinated work through 6 committees and acted since Sept 25.
Update from Puerto Rico
from Laura Ivelisse Ayala
We have learned that the office building of the Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico was lost. There was significant damage to the campus of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico in San Juan, our closest partner. Denominational leaders are working to assess loss of life and property losses among their churches.
Primera Iglesia Bautista de Rio Piedras, where former BPFNA ~ Bautsitas por la Paz board member Laura Ivelisse Ayala is pastor, is serving as a hub housing volunteers and providing direct support. The Ecumenical Seminary will be using office space and perhaps holding classes at this church once things have stabilized enough for classes to be offered. Two recent updates from Pastor Laura are below. We will contribute to the efforts of the church as we have direct connections there and they are well-placed to identity and respond to needs.
Hurricane Report from Cuba
compiled by Stan Dotson
The Fraternity of Cuban Baptists (FIBAC) established a hurricane relief commission about a week after the storm. They have visited the sites most affected and have identified 11 hard-hit communities each of which is a home to a FIBAC church. They have a goal to raise $25,000 USD to help repair damaged buildings – church buildings, homes of pastors, homes of church members and and homes of people in the wider community. The 11 communities are in the central/northern provinces of Camagüey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, and Villa Clara.
A Litany of Lament for Puerto Rico
from the American Baptist Home Missions Society
Devastation, desolation, and destruction!
Hearts faint and knees tremble (Naham 2:10a).
My soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “Gone is my glory,
and all that I had hoped for from the LORD” (Lamentations 3:17-18).
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved
(Psalm 80:3, 7, 19).