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4,000 Churches Devastated in Puerto Rico and Mexico: How Your Church Can Help

4,000 Churches Devastated in Puerto Rico and Mexico: How Your Church Can Help Read Transcript

Hi, everyone.

In Puerto Rico, one week after Hurricane Maria struck,

conditions are not getting better.

They're getting worse.

Not only is water, power, and food scarce now,

money is scarce as well, as the US territory

witnesses near total shut down of its economy.

And here now with us, to give us more insight

on what's going on, is Tony Suarez

with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership


Thank you for joining us, Tony.

Thank you for having me again.

And thanks for all of you for joining us on Facebook Live.

Please feel free to let us know that you're here

where you're listening from.

And if you have any questions about what's going on in Puerto

Rico, we'd love to hear.

Tony, you are working with 40,000 churches that

are affiliated with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership

Conference and asking them to get involved

with churches in Puerto Rico.

So tell us about what you know about what's going on

in Puerto Rico, first of all.

Well, we know that there is a 100% of the island

has been without electricity.

We know that there have been--

there's been distribution brought to the island.

There are supplies ready to be delivered,

but there's complications in actually

getting the things that have been sent to the people.

Then there's planes that are ready to go.

There's boats ready to go from the US that still can't make it

to Puerto Rico.

So it's chaos.

It's disorganization.

Now thankfully, the president today

passed an order so that it would hopefully

open up a little bit--

open up some of these lines up supplies.

The shipping

Yeah, and the shipping getting to Puerto Rico.

But there's so much more that has to be done.

And a lot of it is going to be solved with our finances

and supporting so many organizations like CBN 700

Club's Operation Blessing, Convoy

of Hope, the [INAUDIBLE] you'll see so many

that are going to be boots on the ground.

Some are already there.

And this is going to be an ongoing effort.

This isn't, sadly, it's not something

we're going to solve in a week or even a few months.

We're going to have to be there for the long haul

to restore and rebuild.

As Pastor Sam said, this is going

to have to become Puerto Rico 2.0.


It's so interesting, I was reading

accounts today of people can't get to their ATM machines.

They literally can't get money.

And/or their jobs don't exist right now.

So economically speaking, just even from a cash basis,

people are just struggling.

Yeah and if you think here in the US,

if you think about the lines that we saw

for gas in Florida, in Texas.

Think about now being on an island where the oil has

to be shipped into this island.

They say that the lines for gas right now in Puerto Rico

are over a mile long.

So I mean, even at that point, I mean,

we really need a long term solution.

And it's going to take the government.

It's going to take the churches.

It's going to take everybody coming together.

It won't be one organization that solves this alone.

And that's why we've announced a campaign that's


because we have to look at this.

We have to look at how can we help this country,

speaking of Puerto Rico, this territory.

How do we help it rise up, collectively, together.

So many churches, over 3,000 churches

have been lost in this tragedy.

As a former church--

The church buildings themselves have been lost?

Yeah, absolutely.

And as a former church planter, you know,

I planted a church in Virginia.

I think about those pastors who have given their all to lift up

and plant a church.

And now buildings are gone.

Resources are gone.

But yet at the same time that these buildings have been gone,

the church is that beacon of light in Puerto Rico.

People are coming to their pastors

and coming to churches once they can find each other again

and asking, how can we come together.

And I think it's impacting and I think it's prophetic.

When we see all the divisiveness that's going on right now, even

within our own country, to see how people are coming together

in the midst of tragedy, whether it was Houston

or Florida, and now Puerto Rico and Mexico,

you see that there is this prevailing spirit of unity

that when we need each other, we don't

look at the color of skin.

We don't look at our denomination.

We don't even really look at what religion each one is.

We just come together.

And Mexicans are rebuilding Mexico City and [INAUDIBLE]


And Puerto Ricans are coming together.

And as soon as we can get there, we're

going to be in Puerto Rico helping

them rebuild that island for the glory of the name of Jesus.


It's so interesting because all the news accounts pretty much

right now are doom and gloom.

And I was struck reading Samuel Rodriguez's op-ed piece


And he's talking about rebirth.

And he's talking about 2.0.

And I thought, wow.

You know, as Christians we have a hope.

And we are called to see how the Lord might be working

through these situations.

So what is the vision, the hope for how churches can help lead

in Puerto Rico for what good could come out of all of this?

Well, there's several ways that we can help.

But pastor Sam or Reverend Rodriguez's message of hope,

is that true Christian message of restoration,

and a second chance, and a second hope.

And that's what, I mean, that's what we believe.

We're living in this proverbial pursuit of the blessed hope.

And we believe that even in the midst of tragedy,

God can bless.

He can heal.

He can reconcile, restore.

Puerto Rico is already in an economic crisis.

All this did was make it worse.

But we believe that with the church coming together

and us rebuilding, we believe Puerto Rico can be a better

island post-hurricane Maria than it was before.

One of the ways we can do that is

by state side churches adopting churches in Puerto Rico.

I might not be able to go to Puerto Rico.

Well, in fact pastor Sam and I are

going to Puerto Rico in a matter of weeks.

But if you're not able to go to Puerto Rico,

maybe your church can sponsor or adopt a church in Puerto Rico,

or adopt a pastor.

They're going to need finances for at least a year.

This is, again, this is not something

that we can fix a one time act to Puerto Rico.

So there's ways that we can rise up.

There's ways we can come together.

Just earlier this month, we celebrated education Sunday

in the NHCLC.

And in Puerto Rico, there were thousands

of churches that participated in education Sunday

and encouraging kids, they're going to go back to school.

They prayed over these children, you're going to graduate.

And now some of these kids might not

be able to go to school the rest of the year.

So there's legislation that we're--

legislative solutions that we're looking

at where a child might be able to graduate early if he can--

I mean, there's different things.

But we need to just look at the entire--

this is more than just, we have to deliver food.

We have to deliver supplies.

We need resources and finances.

But how do we help kids to continue their pathway

to education.

How many churches are on the island?

What can you tell us about believers on the island?

Well, I don't know the exact number of churches.

I know the assembly--

I believe it's the Assemblies of God,

and the Iglesia de Dios MAE, Church of God, MI.

There's over 3,000, 4,000 churches alone.

I know that Texas--

I know the number of Baptist churches, I think,

is well over 1,000.

I know that the Texas Baptist Hispanic Baptist

Convention has already had boots on the ground there as well.

So you're talking about thousands of churches.

Puerto Rico is a very--

it's a place full of a lot of faith, a lot of energy,

spiritually speaking.

So the church is the hope.

You know, we're built on this promise

that at the end of the day, the gates of hell

shall not prevail.

Jesus let us know, this was the hope of the world.

And what better place, especially

in the Latino community, where a church is not just

a house of worship, it's a point of contact.

It's where you meet your friends, your family.

You go to church at 10:00 AM and you might not

leave till 3:00 PM.

Because it's where you eat lunch.

That's where you play sports.

That's where you get crisis counseling, et cetera,

et cetera.

So these churches are going to be the beacon of hope in Puerto

Rico and it's where people are looking to for their help

right now.

And that education piece sound interesting, too,

if they can even think creatively

about how to help kids move on in the midst of all this.


I mean, just think about that young person that

was about to go into high school, who

had dreams of a scholarship.

And now they're going to lose their senior year

in high school.

It's not their fault that a hurricane hit.

So how can we help them whether it's

through the government or other ways.

How can we help them so that their dreams aren't deterred?

We know that they need to finish high school.

We know that they need to go to college

for the proverbial American dream.

So how can we help them to make sure

that they reach their potential and be able to fulfill

their dream of graduating?

I love that idea of a church here adopting a church there,


That seems so practical and way you

can get your arms around a crisis

rather than just say, oh my gosh, this is terrible.

I wanted to ask you, too, about Mexico, because

two earthquakes there in the last month.

And so that country is reeling.

What are you hearing from partner churches

on the ground about how things are at and what the needs are?

Mexico really needs supplies.

Now again, it's a little easier.

And you know, that's relative.

But it's a little easier for us to send semi trucks

right now from Texas into Mexico and get supplies.

It's much harder to Puerto Rico.

We're having to send cargo planes.

A New York City councilman, Fernando Cabrera,

who's also a NHCLC board member is partnering with us.

We're sending charter planes from New York

to get to Puerto Rico.

When it comes to Mexico, we have semi trucks that we can send.

And we can fill those with supplies.

There's pallets.

There's a church in Houston named Life Church.

Pastor James Kilgore, who already has over 20 pallets

of supplies that are ready to be put on these semi trucks

and taken to Mexico City.

So the way we can most effectively help in Puerto Rico

is to find a church that might already be doing it

or maybe your church can begin a supply drive and then

partner with Operation Blessing, or convoy, or other groups,

or go to the NHCLC's website puertoricoandmexicoriseup

and let us know where you are.

And then we can coordinate so that we can take semi trucks.

Convoy had a report where they said that for $6,000

they could fill a semi truck with like $42,000

worth of supplies.

That's something that a church could get behind and say,

you know what, we'll fill one semi truck this month.

And I mean, just imagine the blessing that is.

But I've been impressed, especially in Mexico,

when we saw those buildings fall and those school buildings that

fell on those children.

I was so impressed by the Mexican people.

Seeing them rally and come together.

And again, I hurt for them but I see this unity of people.

Who knows who's Pentecostal and who's Catholic

and who's white and black.

All those differences that we're fighting about,

all the things that we're arguing

about over social media, they just

don't matter anymore in a moment of tragedy.

And I think that it's that spirit of unity that, you know,

Acts chapter 2--

forgive me for being preachy, but when the day of Pentecost

has fully come, they were all in one accord.

And I just, I see Puerto Rico becoming unified.

I see Mexico becoming unified.

And even the United States, with everything that's dividing us,

there is this spirit of unity that's

wanting to come forth and break out

within the Christian church saying,

I'm going to forget about football

right now because there's hurting people

in Mexico and in Puerto Rico that need my help.

And so I'm going to forget about all the rhetoric

that people are arguing about on social media.

And I'm going to find out who I can partner

with to be literally be the hands and the feet of Jesus

to hurting people.

Yeah, well there is a lot we can focus on that is good

and a lot I think we can leave behind.


We're going to leave it at that.

Tony Suarez, thank you so much for joining us.

Thanks to all of you for joining us.

Please feel free to share this with your friends

and please prayerfully consider how.


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