Government initiative in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, sees church as effective partners.
Published on: 06-28-2019
Members of the Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist church on the Caribbean island of Tortola recently planted dozens of coconut trees along the shores in an effort to beautify their island after Hurricane Irma hit hard in 2017.
Pathfinders, church leaders, and the church’s community services organization planted 69 trees on Trellis Bay, Beff Island, and Josiah Bay in the British Virgin Islands in late May 2019.
Khoy Smith, Pathfinder counselor and deputy community services leader at the Maranatha Adventist church, said he shared a vision with the Pathfinder club and church at large to embark on a project to replenish the shorelines with coconut trees early in 2019. Pathfinders and members of the church began collecting coconut trees.
Shortly after, British Virgin Islands Tourist Board officials announced that they would be receiving coconut trees and were seeking community partners to plant the trees along the beaches. “This announcement seemed like divine intervention as it was just what we needed and the time was just right,” Smith said.
The 21 Pathfinders and other church volunteer have been monitoring and watering the newly planted trees each week in coordination with several businesses that have agreed to assist, said Sheriece Creque, Pathfinder director for the Maranatha Adventist church.
“Our community partners were excited about the idea of restoring vegetation along the shoreline and enjoyed the sense of pride that was expressed by the youth as they worked,” Creque said. “Many expressed gratitude for the effort of the group as the trees immediately uplifted the atmosphere and provided a renewed sense of hope.”
“Even though it was hard work, it was fun work,” said Pathfinder Drae Smith.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our environment and community in such a meaningful way,” said 14-year-old Pathfinder Shaundre Smith. “We will continue to seek opportunities to give back to our community to be a positive witness as Christian Adventist youth.”
Creque highlighted the importance of initiatives such as this one for the local church.
“This project taught our youth about being community-minded, giving back in a way that will have a lasting impact, about sharing their faith with others by explaining the activity and a growing opportunity to partner with a government agency and several other community members,” Creque explained. “Most importantly, [Pathfinders] were able to step out in faith with this project, and the heavenly Father provided more trees than we had imagined or would be able to collect on our own.”