In British Virgin Islands, Adventists support post-hurricane reconstruction.
Published on: 03-08-2018
Seventh-day Adventists in the British Virgin Islands have been volunteering their time and talents to numerous roof reconstruction projects in the wake of the devastating 2017 hurricane season. The British Virgin Islands are comprised of Virgin Gorda, Tortola and St. Maarten.
Dozens of volunteers took to rebuilding roofs, walls, and assisting the many disrupted by the destructive winds of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes that preaching the Good News must be accompanied with good deeds, so the community must be impacted by the church,” said Henry Peters, community services director of the church in the North Caribbean region. “It’s fulfilling the mission we all embrace.”
Peters said that volunteering has meant more for church members than building a house. “They are building meaningful relationships while working alongside each other and at the same time have been sharing the love of Jesus,” said Peters. “It is truly a life-changing experience for the brethren and the community alike.”
Volunteers completely rebuilt the entire roof of one home, a job that took five weeks to complete, church leaders said.
The building committee of the Virgin Gorda Adventist Church galvanized every willing member to invest weekends and afternoons into community roof-replacement projects. A private donor from the Czech Republic provided the funds to purchase the building materials, and members have been directed to residents who have no insurance to cover replacement costs.
Upon hearing of the initiative, the government has been providing gloves, saws, extension cords, and tools to assist in the reconstruction.
“We are in the process of assisting [residents] rebuild their homes,” said district pastor Sylvester Williams. “A life touched by God always ends in touching others.”
It’s about touching the lives through positive influence, compassion and caring, he said. “Love is the best way to lead and move others toward God. It’s a church-community service project,” he added.
Believers in Tortola are similarly poised for re-construction. Unlike its sister church on Virgin Gorda which was relatively unscathed, the Adventist Church’s properties on Tortola sustained major damage. The Carrot Bay Adventist Church was severely battered by storm surge, the first floor of the Road Town Adventist Church was demolished, and the church school was severely damaged as well.
“God has been good to us, and we are moving on,” expressed Nigel Henry, a church elder on the island of Tortola. He said church members remain optimistic, despite the slow rebuilding process.
“The members continue to be strong and resilient. Many of them have been affected, and we are trying all we can to support them and be there for them,” added Howard Simon, one of two Adventist pastors on Tortola.
On St. Maarten, members of the Philipsburg Adventist Church are also engaged in reconstruction. The church voted to spend $30,000 to assist its members in putting their lives back together, and provision has also been made for the community. “It’s a commendable effort from the church and its members,” said Desmond James, president of the Adventist Church in North Caribbean region. “It’s about building bridges to your community.”
The Seventh-day Adventist community in the British Virgin Islands worships in nine congregations which are led by three pastors. The church oversees the BVI Adventist School, which is an accredited institution with over 300 students in the primary and secondary divisions. On St. Maarten, they worship in nine congregations and operate a primary school.