Light in the midst of darkness: ABHMS publishes Christmas letter from Puerto Rico

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 12/18/17)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has published on its website a Christmas letter to American Baptists from Dr. Josué D. Gómez-Menéndez, administrator of Academia Bautista de Puerto Nuevo in San Juan, and incoming president of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA.

Gómez-Menéndez writes:

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in every way it could. The biggest natural disaster to tear over our tropical island in many decades, the storm took so much from us.

 But it also showed us that it’s good to be part of a family—a great family joining with us on this journey of healing. American Baptist family is one of the gifts that Maria gave to us.

 At the start of the Advent season, my family received a gift—a string of battery-operated Christmas lights—from the Rev. Judy Fackenthal, president of American Baptist Churches USA. This detail is significant because my home remains without electricity. As I write, it has been 75 days since Maria hit, and we continue to use a generator.

 My family hung the Christmas lights at the door between the living room and the terrace. Now, at night, when everything is dark, everyone sees our Christmas spirit.

 Last Sunday I awoke early for a brief jog before Sunday worship. I went to the sink, but nothing came out! The situation felt hopeless—75 days since Maria’s landfall, and it’s still like day zero. No electricity and no water. It’s frustrating, unfair and wrong. 

 As I walked down the stairs, I saw our Christmas lights. I remembered that, for the last 2,000 years, a light has shown a path to hope for those still living in darkness—for the wise man, for the ones who work in the fields, for all those who are still looking!

 This holiday season, more than ever, I give God glory for the promise of light in the darkness—the darkness that still envelopes so much of my homeland, Puerto Rico.

 Thank you, American Baptist family, for living this journey with us—for sharing goods, praying, texting, calling and for your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing that help us so much. But, more importantly, thank you for being part of our family.

 May the blessing of light be yours, my sisters and brothers in Christ, in this holiest of seasons.

 Dr. Josué D. Gómez-Menéndez

Para una versión en español de esta carta, haga clic aquí.

Although ABHMS has consistently released OGHS funds to Puerto Rico, in addition to providing supplies and visiting the island to plan recovery efforts, Hurricane Maria’s destruction continues to haunt the island and its 3 million-plus residents, including thousands of American Baptists. Your generous contribution to One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) will help residents rebuild, restore and renew.

Donations to OGHS for Puerto Rico’s restoration may be made via your church; via credit card online at > Give Now; or via a check designated to “OGHS-Puerto Rico” and mailed to the attention of Kim Wilkins at American Baptist Home Mission Societies, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA, 19482-0851.

One hundred percent of donations go to relief efforts; no dollars are retained for administrative costs. To ensure that your church receives credit for your gift, write the church name on your check or, if giving online, in the “comment” box.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.

One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. The committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work and development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering received by churches.