American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware

ABCOPAD Sidebar!


Puerto Rico Disaster Relief Update

More Pictures from FBC Norristown

More Pictures from FBC Bethlehem

More Pictures from Parkesburg Baptist Church

Picture from Calvary Newark 

  Sometimes plans just don’t come together.   Hope you had a wonderful Christmas celebration and a blessed start to the New year.  I wanted to share an update on what is happening with disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  For the last few months ABCOPAD has been a member of the ABC Puerto Rico Disaster Relief Round Table.   This group is made up of leaders from the Regional Staff of Puerto Rico, the Office of the General Secretary, the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, International Ministries, Regional Mission Coordinators and other Non- Denominational Disaster Relief agencies. During an early December meeting, the Regional Staff of Puerto Rico shared how overwhelming the need is in PR.   At that time only about 53% of the island had power restored and many people had abandoned their homes and businesses in Puerto Rico and taken up residence on the mainland.  As a result there was great frustration and depression among the people remains on the island.
  Local church pastors in Puerto Rico requested help with one possible strategy to address the depression being experienced by families in their churches. The plan was to collect shoebox gifts during the month of December to give to children in Puerto Rico on Three Kings day (January 6th). Puerto Ricans celebrate the coming of the Magi (Epiphany) by having children open gifts. ABHMS sent out a dispatch requesting shoebox gifts for children ages 3 - 12. The gifts were to be delivered to the Mission Center in Valley Forge by December 19th. These gifts would be then shipped to PR in time for them to be delivered to local churches for their Three Kings Day celebrations on January 6th.
  Given the fact the window of opportunity was so small to make this happen (about 2 weeks), ABCOPAD contacted a few churches near Valley Forge asking their help in this effort. Our plan was to give $300.00 to five or six churches who would take their youth group or families in the church Christmas shopping for children in Puerto Rico. These congregations would fill shoeboxes and make Christmas cards that would be then transported to Valley Forge for shipment to PR. FBC Norristown, Parkesburg BC, the Baptist Church of West Chester, Calvary BC of Newark, FBC Bethlehem and West Shore BC all agreed to assist us with the project. Moreland BC did not receive disaster relief funds but still offered to help with shoebox gifts. You can check out pictures of the teams buying presents and creating the shoeboxes in the Google Photo Albums linked to this page.
  The shoebox gifts were delivered to Valley Forge on December 19th for shipment to Puerto Rico. As a part of the plan, I was to be in Puerto Rico January 4 - 8 to help with the distribution of the gifts as well as see first hand the many disaster relief needs and begin preparations for ABCOPAD disaster relief teams to follow in the coming months.

 Picture from the Baptist Church of West Chester
  On January 2nd I received a phone call indicating the shoebox gifts had arrived in Puerto Rico but had not been cleared for delivery to the ABC of Puerto Rico Regional Office. As a result they would not be at local churches for Three Kings Day. Also, due to additional complications at the Regional Office in PR, the Three Kings Day celebrations scheduled for January 6th had been postponed. This was heartbreaking news for me as I thought about the many children who would be disappointed by not receiving gifts for celebration. Despite the fact the celebrations for January 6th were postponed, I was still planning on going to Puerto Rico January 4 - 8 to meet with local pastors and prepare for ABCOPAD Disaster Relief Teams to be deployed to Puerto Rico. On January 4th, due to the massive snowstorm that came up the coast, my flight to Puerto Rico was canceled. With my flight canceled, I was not able to meet with the local pastoral leaders to finalize locations for teams.
  Currently I am waiting to hear from the Regional Office in Puerto Rico regarding the rescheduled Three Kings Day celebrations. I hope to still travel to the island to assist in setting up Disaster Relief Trips that will be deployed in 2018. The ABC Round Table group has a trip planned at the end of January I might join. All this to say, ABCOPAD continues to be a partner in disaster relief efforts.
  Right now a disaster relief team is leaving for Houston, Texas on January 9th.. Another disaster relief trip to Houston is scheduled in March. Disaster Relief Trips to Puerto Rico will be announced soon. Thank you for your generosity and support of our mission endeavors as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need, bringing the hope of the Gospel and assistance in recovery. God Bless and again, thank you for your partnership in ministry. Mark