Thanks to generous contributions of congregations, organizations and individuals both in and outside the American Baptist family, $1,367,944.30 has been raised as of today. By Feb. 9, $1,012,946.04 had been collected, surpassing the initial $1 million fundraising goal.
Approximately $404,500 was provided to entities in Puerto Rico, including the American Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico region—ABHMS’ primary partner on the ground—and to various churches, including Iglesia Bautista La Esperanza, Misión Bautista Cristo Restaura and Mision Bautista de Arroyo; Corporación Milagros del Amor (CORMA); Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico; Baptist schools and academies; Centro de Retiro Genesaret and other ministries of Iglesia Bautista de Carolina; and eight missionaries of Puerto Rico. Included in the total are funds that were provided in community grants and in the purchase of such supplies as solar lights, batteries, flashlights and water filters.
Also included in the total is funding for renovations at Centro de Retiro Ruth Maldonado, which provides housing for volunteers involved in ABHMS rebuilding projects on the island. New fire alarms and extinguishers as well as emergency exits ensure that the center meets health and fire codes. A newly equipped administrative office and power generator are among the improvements. Volunteers now enjoy a fully renovated kitchen and dormitories with two new washers and dryers, a new refrigerator, new mattresses and shower-room flooring with anti-slip tile.
From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 30 teams and nine individuals—totaling 370 volunteers—served in the following places: Iglesia Bautista Ebenezer de Levittown Lakes; Segunda Iglesia Bautista de Cidra; Iglesia Bautista La Nueva Ebenezer; Iglesia Bautista de Las Cruces; Iglesia Bautista de Quebrada; Iglesia Bautista Berea; Iglesia Bautista La Esperanza; Misión Bautista de Arroyo; Iglesia Bautista Getsemaní de Colinas Verdes; Primera Iglesia Bautista de Cupey; Primera Iglesia Bautista de Puerta de Tierra; Iglesia Bautista Unida Vegas y Farallón; Iglesia Bautista Central de Villa Las Lomas; Iglesia Bautista de Jaguas; Misión Bautista Cristo Restaura; Iglesia Bautista de Altamesa; Primera Iglesia Bautista de Barranquitas; Centro de Retiro Genesaret; Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico; CORMA; and Centro de Retiro Ruth Maldonado.
Eleven teams are slated to volunteer from September through December. Seventeen volunteer teams have registered for 2019.
ABHMS’ “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico” Facebook group provides a central online place for information about the effort, including volunteer opportunities; discussion about issues impacting Puerto Rico; sharing photos, videos and stories of ongoing work; and calls for prayer and other support for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico.
While “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico”-designated OGHS funds made great impact during the first year of disaster response, need on the island remains great. ABHMS encourages American Baptists to continue volunteering and giving to OGHS to meet the new $1 million goal.
“As Jesus said, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’ We face the same challenge in Puerto Rico because of limited resources,” says the Rev. Salvador Orellana, ABHMS deputy director of Logistics and Relationships for the Puerto Rico initiative. “However, with people’s prayers, financial support and volunteer service, we are making a difference and impact in the life of our brothers and sisters on the island.”
ABHMS asks churches, other groups and individuals to suggest volunteer work weeks of their own choosing by contacting Abigaíl Medina Betancourt, ABHMS volunteer coordinator for “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico,” at 939.231.0120 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Kim Wilkins, ABHMS Disaster-response Ministries administrative assistant, at 800.222.3872, x2413. Volunteers can create their own work groups or contact ABHMS to be placed with a group. Cost of $150 per person per week includes housing, food and supplies. Volunteers are responsible for round-trip transportation to Puerto Rico as well as transportation on the island.
Gifts of any size will continue to help our American Baptist family in Puerto Rico. Donations may be made via your church; by visiting http://www.abc-usa.org/ and clicking “Give Online” at the top right of the page; or via check designated to “OGHS-Puerto Rico” and mailed to the attention of Kim Wilkins at American Baptist Home Mission Societies, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA, 19482-0851.
One hundred percent of donations go to relief efforts; no dollars are retained for administrative costs. To ensure that your church receives credit for your gift, write the church name on your check or, if giving online, in the “comment” box.
One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. The committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work and development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering received by churches.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.