September 8, 2019 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
Nearly a week after Hurricane Dorian destroyed everything in sight in Grand Bahama and Abaco islands in The Bahamas, Seventh-day Adventist leaders are slowly receiving word about the whereabouts of their members. So far the church has confirmed one death among the membership in Grand Bahama. In Abaco, all members have been accounted for, church leaders said, but many are seriously injured and are in hospitals in Nassau.
“We know that 90 percent of the infrastructure in both islands have been destroyed and some evacuations have taken place during the past few days,” said Pastor Michael Smith, communication director for the church in the Atlantic Caribbean Union.
“Our pastoral families have come through the storm and they are of good courage,” said Smith. The government has reported that 43 people have died as a result of Dorian but they fear that number might escalate as the days go by, explained Smith.
Church members in action
Church members in Grand Bahama moved into action and have engaged in immediate community service catering to the public, said Smith. Some 400 hot meals are being distributed every day.
“As evacuations from the affected islands have come through to Nassau every day, our members are in the forefront of ministry,” said Smith. On Sep. 6, as a group of 400 persons evacuated from Abaco, members of the Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) chapter of the South Bahamas Conference joined with the team of buses to transport those persons to government facilities, added Smith.
Pastor Peter Kerr, president of the church in the Atlantic Caribbean Union, which is comprised of The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos, flew into Grand Bahama today to examine the devastation and provide support to the church members.
“We are unloading relief supplies which we flew in on a chartered aircraft out of Nassau into Grand Bahama,” said Kerr.
Pastor Wilson Isnord, who pastors two churches in Marsh Harbour in Abaco, lost everything in his home. “My family and I prayed through the storm and praise God for His faithfulness…God is Good,” said Isnord. He said the churches are flooded and the church’s bus was overturned.
Pastor Kerr reported that members met in homes during Sabbath for worship and later shared hot meals for those in the community.
Adventist school affected
Cheryl Rolle, executive secretary of the church in the Atlantic Caribbean Union, reported today that the Grand Bahama Academy in Freeport was affected by flooding and the school could be running soon. However, she said most of the teachers and children’s family homes were destroyed or damaged.
“I have heard of harrowing experiences already, stories of survival… it’s amazing to hear the testimonies,” said Rolle, who flew in for strategic meetings in today. Rolle said that school counselors have already met with members and the community at large in churches in Grand Bahama to provide guidance on how to cope with loss and displacement.
Some students from Freeport, Grand Bahama, have already transferred to the South Bahamas Academy in Nassau to resume their classes while recovery efforts take place back home.
As soon as Hurricane Dorian made its landing in the north Bahamas, Pastor Jose A. Rodríguez, president of the church in Puerto Rico, moved quickly to collect funds to assist those affected in the Atlantic Caribbean territory.
“We have already sent some funds to assist church members affected by Dorian and will continue to send funds to assist all victims on the two islands,” said Rodríguez. The plan is to support a soup kitchen in Grand Bahama and Abaco indefinitely, said Rodríguez.
Pastor Smith thanked the church leadership of the Inter-American Division for prayers and financial support during the aftermath of the hurricane.
“This is going to take a while to bring about the recovery and restoration process,” said Smith. Smith encouraged top leaders to use the opportunity of tragedy and despair to get young people involved in helping others in reassuring the mission of helping others.
To help the victims of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas, you can donate to:
The Inter-American Division, 8100 SW 117th Ave, Miami, FL 33183. Make check payable to the Inter-American Division – Hurricane Dorian Relief, to assist church members and their efforts in the community. (Only financial contributions are accepted).
Also to ADRA International at adra.org