December 11, 2007 – Miami, Florida…[Libna Stevens/IAD]
On December 22nd, thousands of Seventh-day Adventist Churches from throughout Inter-America will collect a special offering that will go towards helping thousands of church members in South Mexico who were severely affected by Tropical Storm Noel's torrential rains and floods last month. The storm struck North Chiapas and Tabasco hardest, killing 18 church members and leaving over 20,000 members homeless.
“Never had our church membership been hit on such a scale of disaster,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America. “It has been devastating for the general public, but specifically where our membership’s concerned, it has never been this way anywhere in this division in recent memory.”
According to Pastor Leito, funds have been sent to help church members,”but it’s nothing to what the church needs in Tabasco,” he adds. This prompted the top church leadership to appeal to the church in Inter-America and make Dec. 22 as Solidarity Day in Inter-America where thousands of church members can aid their fellow members across borders with their monetary donations.
“If we could collect at least one million dollars on that day, it would be wonderful,” says Pastor Leito. On any given Sabbath, churches across Inter-America collect near that amount, according to church figures, so leaders are confident that the giving church in Inter-America will be moved into helping those affected in South Mexico.
“We are very concerned for our members,” says Pastor Leito. “The government has relocated them with the general population, and they are refugee camps, but we would like to help them get on their feet, and not become perpetual refugees.”
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Mexico has been assisting victims, both Adventist and non-Adventist, in the region and is seeking government funds to provide help to as many as possible. However, church leaders wish to reserve the money from this offering specifically for church members victimized by the storm.
If you would like to help church members affected in Tabasco and North Chiapas, contact your local church or local mission/conference/union or call Inter-American Division Headquarters Treasury Department at 305.403.4700.