Pastor delivers food on horseback after Hurricane Maria

The Rev. Juan Carlos Navarro Centeno and his mare, Zafira

In 2017, when Hurricane Maria rendered much of Puerto Rico’s roads impassable, stranding residents without supplies, the Rev. Juan Carlos Navarro Centeno, pastor of Segunda Iglesia Bautista de Cidra, was unable to minister in the community via his usual mode of transportation—a wheelchair. But that wasn’t about to stop him.

Navarro simply mounted his 3-year-old mare, Zafira, and rode for hours to deliver 120 bags of rice, beans, chicken and milk to residents.

Although his own church was destroyed, forcing him to hold services under a tent, Navarro remained positive and committed to the needs of others.

“I am happy,” he said. “God is good.”

Puerto Rico and its people are being restored through God’s power at work within individuals such as Navarro and organizations like American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) and its partners. Through the “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico” initiative, ABHMS is striving toward a five-year $5 million One Great Hour of Sharing fundraising goal in partnership with American Baptist Churches USA.

Through the initiative, $1,417,087.95 has been raised as of Jan. 4, and 48 American Baptist churches, schools and other entities on the island have been restored or are undergoing restoration.

“Our church was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, but I thank God for his mercy and American Baptist Home Mission Societies for sending the necessary help to us, and for the brothers and sisters committed to repairing our churches,” Navarro said. “Today we have a place where we can meet again to continue preaching the gospel and worshiping our Lord. Glory to God! Thank you! God bless you!”

Additional information about “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico” is available online or by contacting the Rev. Salvador Orellana, ABHMS’ director of the initiative, at