Free Methodist World Missions (FMWM) is inviting churches to consider sending VISA Teams to come alongside the church in Puerto Rico to help clean up and rebuild. VISA Teams are teams sponsored by a local Free Methodist church or conference that are matched to a priority project as identified by national and FMWM leadership. VISA Team members volunteer a week or two of their time, talent and financial resources in order to serve.
On Wednesday, September 20, Hurricane Maria, a category four storm, hit Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds and torrential rains. The storm devastated the island that had already been affected by Hurricane Irma two weeks earlier. While the storms have initially passed, the full impact of the hurricane hasn’t been fully realized, and reports continue to come in of flash flooding and mudslides.
Although communication is not yet fully restored, we are getting reports out of Puerto Rico of extensive damage to homes and Free Methodist churches. We thank God that we haven’t heard of any loss of life among our community. As far a church property is concerned, we know that trees are down, windows and doors are broken, musical instruments have been destroyed and the furniture is unusable.
As the long slow path to recovery begins, Dr. Delia Nüesch-Olver, Area Director for Latin America, will be working with Superintendent Mercedes Reynoso and country leaders to develop a list of priorities and to organize themselves to best meet the needs.
Any church or conference interested in sponsoring a VISA Team, please contact Jonathan Eccles, VISA Team Coordinator for FMWM. Jonathan can be reached at Jonathan.Eccles@fmcusa.org or phone 317-244-3660 Ext. 220 Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm Eastern. While we don’t have more news currently, we will add your team to our volunteer list and seek to deploy teams when the church in Puerto Rico is ready. We anticipate sending many teams to Puerto Rico over the next couple of years.
Puerto Rico is an island in the eastern Caribbean with a population of 3.5 million of which 2. 5 million people live in the greater San Juan area. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory which means native-born Puerto Ricans are citizens of the U.S. The Puerto Rican Free Methodist Church started among Dominican immigrants and continues to be largely Dominican. There are nine churches (including one on the island of Antigua), 14 ordained elders and 19 ministerial candidates. It is organized as a Provisional Conference, meaning it has a level of autonomy much like an annual conference in the U.S. and is financially self-supporting.
If you’d like to financially contribute to help with the relief, you can give through the Bishops’ Crisis Response Fund (include “Puerto Rico” in the Comments box) or the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund.
If sending a check, make payable to “Free Methodist Church USA.” Include a note, or put on the memo line “Bishops Crisis Response-Puerto Rico” or “Puerto Rico, Hurricane Relief Fund,” depending on your preference.
Free Methodist World Ministries Center
Attention: Finance Dept.
770 N. High School Road
Indianapolis, IN 46214