By Suhey Correa
Seven and a half years ago, Free Will Baptists in Puerto Rico started beneath a shade tree with a confession of faith. A repentant sinner arose and said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Since that moment, many have made their confession of faith and joined the church.
After four years, we were able to obtain seven acres of land, with a vision towards the growth of the church. We also wanted to construct a school to expand the Kingdom to children and youth and sustain missionaries from our church and others. In our fifth year, the church was constructed and missionaries began building a church in a nearby town. In our sixth year, after receiving a generous donation, we began to build Genesis Academy Preschool. This would be the beginning of the school. The church was really happy and only needed a few things for the permits to be approved.
Then the trial arrived with the winds of Hurricane Maria. No one expected it, but we prepared the best we could. In the two days before the storm arrived, we secured everything and waited in a safe place. The day after Hurricane Maria, we weren't able to leave our home. Another day went by, and we were only able to get close to the church property. We had to leave our car and walk among fallen trees and downed power lines to reach it. Along the way, neighbors would stop us to say “take a deep breath; this won’t be easy.” When we arrived at the church property, we couldn't believe what we saw. All of our work, time, and donations—it was all gone (pictured below).
Sadness was evident in the faces of our brothers and sisters who were able to reach the church. We all experienced feelings of frustration and pain. And though we had no idea how, we knew we had to begin again. Without water, electricity, communication, or food, we began to gather again.
We wrote letters and brought them to the homes of church members so they knew we would keep working. We gathered two Sundays at a car dealer and now are gathering at a covered basketball court. The hurricane might have taken our building but not our church! Now, we understand 1 Peter 2:4-5. We are more alive than ever. Nothing will prevail against the Church. We can make a church home anywhere.
We are living stones; we are the Church. We are thankful for your prayers and donations. As we write this, we have survived 40 days without electricity. Our communication is not good, drinkable water is hard to find, and food is expensive. Yet, there is still an island in need of Christ, and we ask for your prayers and help.
About the Writer: Suhey Correa and her husband Jose are church planters in Puerto Rico. For more information on how you can help with recovery efforts, please contact North America Ministries: www.fwbnam.com.