GEORGETOWN – SL2C UPDATE

We are sending the light to Georgetown, Guyana. This capital city is uniquely positioned in South America and full of Caribbean culture and vibrance. Check out the video for more information on our efforts, and find out how you can be involved in making Georgetown a Lighthouse City.

I WAS THERE

I was there! Or, more correctly, we were there. My wife and I had landed on the island of Puerto Rico a few days earlier at the invitation of two churches from the Disciples of Christ. While there, we also had plans to do two more things we normally do when we visit the island: we wanted to be active in some sort of ministry connected with the Church of God, and Ada and I wanted to visit with friends and family.

Victor and Ada Pagan

The first part of the agenda was completed September 16th when VIDA Foundation partnered with the Theological University of the Caribbean to sponsor a seminar on Pastoral Care. The next day, we ministered at one of the aforementioned churches. On Monday and Tuesday (18th and 19th), we visited with relatives. On the 20th, Maria arrived! Yes, we are talking about the Category 4 hurricane which hit the island of Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Needless to say, the rest of the agenda seemed gone with the wind. The pastor from the second church called to cancel the scheduled services for Thursday and Saturday. Sunday was put on hold, but by Saturday, it was confirmed that one combined service would be held instead of the two regular services usually conducted at the church.

I was amazed at the courage of the people. A poster on a wall read, “We shall rise stronger.” Some had to drive on flooded roads, around fallen trees, and over electrical lines. A generator gave us some power—not enough for the air conditioner to work—but at least, we could use a microphone. Our praise and worship had no obstruction rising to the heavens, because the roof of the building was, in reality, gone. It was a scene to behold some 500 brothers and sisters hugging, kissing, crying, and comforting each other. The Holy Spirit got involved with His presence, and His peace was felt in a real and quiet manner; in clear contrast to the noisy and intimidating winds brought by Maria.

As I write this, I sadly report that more than five weeks have passed since Maria, and the pace of recovery is extremely slow. The number of casualties is already over 50. Many are now learning of property losses, including Ada’s sister who lost her house. People were dismissed from their jobs, others’ working hours were reduced. Those, who can afford it, are moving to the States, some permanently.

As a Puerto Rican, I am grateful for the impactful response and assistance we have received from Church of God World Missions. The leadership of World Missions has been concerned about the state of the church in Puerto Rico from the onset. Other agencies and ministries, like Operation Compassion, have also assisted. It should be noted that Bishop Angel Marcial from the Southeastern Hispanic Region has led a remarkable effort collecting and sending goods, money, and generators to Puerto Rico.

Finally, a word of caution … we still have among us evil people who would take advantage of the pain of others to help themselves. Don’t become a victim by sending money to people you don’t know or agencies that are not trustworthy. Be a wise and a good steward of your financial resources. World Missions has established a project number, 765-0036, for those interested in helping Puerto Rico or any other of the Caribbean Islands affected by the recent hurricanes.

Dr. Victor Pagan
Former World Missions Assistant Director

 

A CARIBBEAN DISASTER RELIEF UPDATE

The Caribbean has been hit twice with Category 5 hurricanes. Many islands have suffered catastrophic damage.
In this video, Field Director Ishmael Charles shows the effects of the destruction at the site of the totally demolished West End Church on Tortola.

BVI Update West End from Church of God World Missions on Vimeo.

To support disaster relief for the Caribbean, please click here: cogwm.org/caribbeanrelief.

Thank you for doing what you can for God’s people and God’s kingdom.

CARIBBEAN FIELD DIRECTOR REPORTS

The Mt. Zion Church on St. Thomas, Caribbean was badly damaged.

As if the Caribbean islands have not endured enough, Hurricane Maria has followed on the heels of the devastation left by Hurricane Irma. Earlier reports from Field Director Ishmael Charles told of untold destruction in his area of superintendency, but he firmly expressed his trust in God.

Today, International World Missions Director Dr. David M. Griffis received an updated report from Ishmael defining in more detail the needs …

  • None of the 10 churches in Antigua suffered any major destruction.
  • Barbuda was completely destroyed and the government evacuated everyone.
  • Minimal damages to properties in St. Kitts and Nevis.
  • Martin and Anguilla experienced the force of a Category 5; the main Church of God was heavily damaged, and they are awaiting assessment from other pastors; the International airport is closed. Seven churches suffered water damage, and one church in Anguilla, as well.
  • In the British Virgin Islands, it is reported 85 percent of the infrastructure has been destroyed, including banks, schools, churches, businesses and homes. Everyone in every walk of life was affected by the hurricane winds of over 185 mph.
  • The Virgin Gorda Church, a congregation of over 200, is uninhabitable for worship.
  • On Tortola, the West End church was blown to rubble; nothing was left of the building.
  • The main church on the island of St. Thomas was badly damaged.
  • Two of our Haitian churches were completely lost in Turks & Caicos, and the main church in Grand Turks experienced destruction.

Adding to the distress, is the fact that international countries are removing their nationals, and the main tourist and financial industries are moving their business companies to other countries, creating a more severe effect on the islands. Many of our own Church of God members have lost everything.

Not only have the hurricanes been catastrophic, but the emotional aftermath is catastrophic, as well. In the words of Church of God General Overseer Dr. Tim Hill, “With these major weather events, we are facing storm fatigue. However, it is in the midst of the storm that the church is at its best!”

In the wake of the storms, lives and livelihoods are in need of restoration. Please help as God gives you the ability. Click the link below to give online to Caribbean Relief.

Project #765-0036-053

COGWM PRAYS FOR CARIBBEAN IN FACE OF HURRICANE MARIA

Hurricane Maria ravages through the Caribbean and threatens significantly more damage to poor and already-devastated islands. Church of God International World Missions Director and Assistant Director, Drs. David M. Griffis and M. Thomas Propes, responded with a call to prayer with the COGWM family this morning.

Dr. Griffis opened the time of prayer with scriptures from Mark 4 and Matthew 14, demonstrating that Jesus – who is the same yesterday, today, and forever – still calms the storms. “God rides on the wings of the wind,” said Griffis, citing Psalm 104. “Jesus is still the master of the sea.”COGWM praying for Caribbean

Dr. Propes drew from his own experience and explained that in deep seasons of loss, people find God. In those moments, “there is something in our DNA that turns us to God,” he said. He further stated that there is reason to be hopeful that in the face of devastation, a great harvest of souls can be reaped.

Next, specific prayers were offered by Dr. Propes and two World Missions board members, Dr. Gary Sears and Dr. Donald Walker: prayers for provision, protection, and peace.

Dr. Griffis then led COGWM in a time of prayer asking God to turn Hurricane Maria back to the sea. He drew from biblical and personal examples that demonstrate God’s ability and graciousness to do this.

“World Missions stands with our Church of God family across the Caribbean. We offer our financial support, but more than that we offer our prayers. To our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean – you are not alone,” Dr. M. Thomas Propes.

To give to relief efforts, please visit cogwm.org/caribbeanrelief.

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HURRICANE IRMA 9/7/17

This is a video update from COG Caribbean Field Director Bishop Ishmael Charles concerning the devastation across his region. We will share more information as it becomes available. Please continue to pray for the people of the Caribbean.

Irma Caribbean Relief from Church of God World Missions on Vimeo.

To give online to recovery efforts, visit cogwm.org/irmacaribbean.

HURRICANE IRMA AND THE COG IN THE CARIBBEAN

The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history is churning a path along the Caribbean islands and is projected to hit the east coast of the USA soon.

Just as early warnings preceded this monstrous storm for people to prepare, so must we as a church begin to prepare for the aftermath. The Church of God never shirks in its response to be there as soon as possible, offering support and aid to those affected.

Caribbean field director Ishmael Charles has checked in safe with World Missions. He reports extreme damage on the island of Tortola. He also indicated that there are so many trees down, he had to walk five miles to the church to check on it.

Making landfall first in Barbuda, Irma destroyed nearly every building on the island. Heavy rains and powerful winds then lashed Puerto Rico, leaving nearly 900,000 people without power. In the line of destruction are the Bahama Islands. At least ten people are reported dead so far.

Many of the heretofore lush islands have been stripped clean by the storm’s impact. The next hit for Irma are the coasts of the United States.

As reports begin to come into the offices of World Missions, International Director Dr. David M. Griffis and Assistant Dr. M. Thomas Propes will alert the Church of God constituency as to the immediate needs of our brothers and sisters in these areas. Your prayers are of utmost importance.

To Donate support for Church of God World Missions relief efforts in the Caribbean, Click here or put cogwm.org/irmacaribbean in your browser’s url.

Project number 765-0036-053 is IrmaCaribbean disaster relief.

 

 

“Moving the Caribbean in the Right Direction.”

A symposium was held at the end of last year in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with the theme “Moving the Caribbean in the Right Direction.” Field Director Bishop Ishmael P. Charles welcomed leaders from churches in all the regions to examine and reflect on matters to ensure charting a future path for the Caribbean.

Caribbean Field Director Ishmael Charles exhorts the multi-language gathering of ministers of this Field Area.

OPENING SESSION

In the opening session, World Missions Assistant Director Dr. M. Thomas Propes challenged the delegates with the need to expect, anticipate, and appropriate that which God will do in order to move the Caribbean in the right direction. The closing church service brought an inspiring message by Dr. Raymond Culpepper, First Assistant General Overseer.

SESSIONS FOR SUCCESS

Workshops and breakout sessions dealt with issues relating specifically to the various spheres of leadership. The participants were encouraged to take what they had received and return to their field of service for implementation.

STRATEGIC PLANS

The gathering was host to peoples from three major language groups in the region … Hispanic, French, and English … yet all could understand and benefit from the sessions. A growing passion for church growth was generated among the leaders. Strategic plans were established for planting new churches in the coming two years, ensuring they prepare for the next generation. Failure to be relevant will result in stagnation.

The entire delegation from outside Puerto Rico was grateful for the exceptional hospitality given them during the symposium.

BAHAMAS HURRICANE MATTHEW UPDATE

haiti-h-matthew-damage-004Following close on the heels of impact Hurricane Matthew made on the western side of Haiti, the island of Andros, Bahamas, suffered a major blow, as well.

Bishop Overseer Dr. Ishmael Charles notified World Missions Director Dr. David Griffis and Assistant Director Dr. Thomas Propes of the extent of damages incurred. Once a natural disaster has passed, it is then the destruction becomes more visible.

Overwhelming for church members is not only the devastation of homes and livelihood, but the destruction of their churches … the places of worship and spiritual experiences. In the Andros district, the roof, walls, and flooring need to be replaced, as well as the incalculable loss of ministry sound equipment. Replacing these needs is a discouraging situation—money is not easily obtained. Services will now have to be held outside until further accommodations can be made.

Even more sorrowful is the displacement of some of the tombs. Because of limited space and underground waterways on islands, the dead must be buried above ground.

Winds and water heavily damaged the Mastic Point church; Stafford Creek felt the effects of a fallen tree; and Small Hope Church of God lost roof shingles. The one thing that remains is their faith in God and in those who will assist financially and lend physical labor in the rebuilding.

Church of God World Missions is there!

Project Number 765-0036-040 (Please designate Andros, Bahamas, on your donation.)

MORE ON HURRICANE AFTERMATH

image012Joe Vibert, education director of Haiti, sends World Missions the latest update on the Séminaire Théologique de L’église de Dieu en Haiti.

While the facilities of the school were not directly affected, 80 of the students were impacted by at least one of the following:

* Family homes damaged or destroyed

* Cattle destroyed

* Plantations destroyed

* Private businesses affected or destroyed

* Relatives disappeared

* Church buildings damaged or destroyed

* Personal items … clothes, important documents damaged or disappeared

Of a more serious concern now is the outbreak of cholera in certain areas. One of the employees of the Seminary lost 12 members of his family in one week. A river exhumed bodies from a cemetery where people who had died of cholera were buried, contaminating an entire village.

The need is overwhelming to bring relief to the people in their present condition, and an even greater challenge is to assist them in beginning again. Recovery will be long-term and extensive. Still reeling from the earthquake several years ago, the present situation in Haiti is incomprehensible. As always, World Missions will do everything it can to send funds and lend itself to prayer for this battered nation.

Project Number 765-0036-040