Dear Christian Church in Arizona,
The arrival of Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean last month, “caused catastrophic damage and a major humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.” Chances are you have already heard the news filled with a variety of political perspectives, and may not have realized how close is its impact. It was only several weeks ago we had made an appeal for Hurricane Harvey Relief, and we couldn’t be any more grateful and prouder of our collective efforts. Today, I write with another appeal for Hurricane Maria Relief designated for Puerto Rico.
As I travel across the region, the question I’m always asked is “how is your family?” I’m not sure if you knew my parents were both born and raised on this beautiful island. This affords me a great many ties, biological and covenantal. We, Disciples, have been in Puerto Rico since 1899 with our missionaries’ arrival. There are now more than 106 Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) local congregations, and 21,000 members, embodied as one, “La Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) en Puerto Rico.” How is our family? They are in need of our help.
Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) Amelia in Guaynabo, its Pastor, Rev. Abner Meléndez Feliciano, yesterday, began a therapeutic, interactive, and educational experience for its children (pictured below with the tree of hope) entitled: “Exprésate – Comparte – Edúcate.” Its goal in part will help kids find a theological orientation in the midst of the total loss of / limitations in their basic needs for electricity, water, and so much more. The church itself sustained roof, wind and water damage. Its impact is being felt by all of us, even the “Mesa”, which is our representative leadership of the Hispanic Convention is planning efforts to help during their upcoming Assembly in Phoenix on November 3 – 4, 2017. Several months ago, they invited Rev. Elizer Ronda to serve as their keynote speaker for this upcoming event. He is a pastor of Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) Borinquen, Caguas in Puerto Rico. In the midst of these challenges he still agreed to be with us. I believe we might work to provide an up and above effort to stand with them, our family, our one body, and our one church. The children in Spanish on video affirm that Puerto Rico believes in God. We are the hands and feet of Christ. Let us show an outpouring of love on behalf of the God who calls us all.
As you are able, and are so inclined, give online at www.weekofcompassion.org. Please donate and designate these gifts to Hurricane Relief, Puerto Rico. My family, and I just made our gift. Please continue to hold all of us who have been impacted by the force of Hurricane Maria in your thoughts, and prayers.
Picture and videos on our site are courtesy of Wilfredo Javier Rosado.
Rev. Richie Sanchez
Interim Regional Minister
Christian Church in Arizona