Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017, devastating the island and leaving its residents without power and in grave need of assistance.
“The hurricane changed the life of everyone here. They know they are vulnerable,” said William Torres, a lay evangelist for the Lutheran church in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. “The Lutheran Church was the first organization that gave help in this community,” said Sylvia Gonzalez, who lives on the western side of the island in Mayaguez, where Principe de Paz (Prince of Peace) Lutheran Church is located.
The chaos created by the storms was met with mercy and compassion. As in most situations, the immediate needs of food, water and shelter were addressed. And with that work, God’s love was not just lived out, but proclaimed.
“When we talk with the people, we said it is not just food for the body, but it is just the Gospel, saying important things for this life and for eternal life,” said the Rev. Arturo Gustavo Maita, pastor of Principe de Paz. “So, it is important to see Christ — not just the food, but also the work of Christ.”
Gonzalez was drawn to the Lutheran church through the love she witnessed there. “When I entered the church, I met people who offered so much help and love, which drew me in and I wanted to help as well,” said Gonzalez. “Everybody was in need during that time, and I saw that they gave the help without selection, without choosing who was most deserving … they gave to all.” In April, a group of congregation members, missionaries and other workers gathered to witness Gonzalez’s confirmation. God’s faithfulness and provision were manifest in His gracious gifts given again.
Interested in reading more about God’s work in Puerto Rico? Please visit engage.lcms.org/puerto-rico-recovery-summer-2018.