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October 30, 2017
The following report is from Asaf Vera Baltodano, member of Shalom Baptist Church, student at the Baptist Seminary in Mexico City, and the most recent Youth and Young Adult (TYAYA) representative on the BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz board of directors. You can click here for more updates and reports on disaster relief efforts in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba along with ways to help.
I remember at this last Summer Conference, celebrated here in Mexico, we were asked questions about what guided our faith, which generated an urgent reflection on my faith since it was not a common question and made it difficult for me to find the answer. That was one of the great rhetorical teachings from this last Peace Camp.
September 19, 2017, an ordinary day, where my plans were to do homework because at the weekend I would travel to my hometown to celebrate the marriage union of a great friend. I remember that I woke up, had breakfast, went to the seminary, greeted everyone happily as I usually do, and as soon as I got to the Baptist Seminary office, the seismic alarm began to sound, to which the Rector told me to reassure myself because it was only a warning. Later, after returning to normal, I began to do homework, and at 1 o'clock in the morning for 14 minutes a horrible shake was felt. I immediately left the seminary, and as I went down the stairs, I remember what felt like thunder in the structure of the building. It was horrible. Immediately I contacted my family in Ensenada. I told them that I was well, but the first news I heard was that the building that is attached to my Hebrew teacher's house had collapsed, at which point I said: This is chaos.
Immediately I went to find my pastors, from whom I received a strong and warm hug, and we began to talk about the feelings, emotions during the earthquake. Then I went home to see the news, and if, indeed, it was chaos. The traffic worsened by the minute. In the street only sirens from ambulances and fire trucks were heard, and you could see from the windows people running, mothers and parents crying because they knew nothing of their sons and daughters with the cellular signal weakened. Immediately the videos began to circulate on social networks where it was shocking to see collapsed buildings, people disappeared, fires, and many other terrible things.
And this is where the question arises: Where is God? God was present through the Mexican people who immediately went out to the street to remove debris, prepared meals for the rescuers, who raised fists to hear a sign of life, who applauded when someone alive was pulled out among the rubble, who offered their professional services to help, who opened their apartments as a shelter. Yes, God was present in the chaos.
And the church? 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. Now we must be agents of the Kingdom of God.