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


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From Josué Gómez-Menéndez

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 of people 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 is a significant detail for us because at my home, we are still without electricity. As I write this, it’s now 75 days since Maria hit, and we are still using a generator with the inconvenience and limitation that this brings.

We 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 woke up early and prepared for a brief jog before the Sunday worship. I went to the bathroom, opened the faucet, but nothing came out!

I felt really without hope … 75 days out from Maria’s landfall and it’s still like day zero. No electricity and no water. It’s so frustrating. It’s not fair; there is something terribly wrong.

I walked down the stairs, and suddenly I saw our Christmas lights … and I remembered, you know, that for the last 2,000 years, there is a light showing a path for hope to 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, administrator of Academia Bautista de Puerto Nuevo in San Juan, is incoming president of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA.

Hurricane Maria’s destruction continues to haunt the island of Puerto Rico and its three-million-plus residents, including thousands of American Baptists. Your generous contribution to One Great Hour of Sharing will help residents recover, restore and rebuild. GIVE NOW