ABHMS retreat offers solace to pastors dealing with post-Hurricane María stress

VALLEY FORGE, PA (8/21/19)—To facilitate healing and self-care among pastors dedicated to ministering to others in the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane María, American Baptist Home Mission Societies offered, in partnership with Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico (IBPR), the “Me haces descansar” (“You Make Me Rest”) retreat Aug. 8-10 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The event launched with dinner on Thursday evening. On Saturday, psychologist Dr. Yvonne Martínez Thorne taught self-calming strategies during a workshop titled “Psychological Distress After Natural Disasters.” Saturday featured Communion officiated by the Rev. Dr. Marilyn P. Turner-Triplett, ABHMS director of Healing and Transforming Communities, and preaching by the Rev. Dr. Edgardo Caraballo, executive minister of IBPR.

Sharing personal stories was an important part of the healing process.

José Javier Santos and Marilyn Díaz of Iglesia Bautista Metrópolis spoke about Misión Bautista Cristo Restaura, where they are serving as pastoral leaders. Iglesia Bautista Metrópolis is sponsor of Misión Bautista Cristo Restaura and provided aid to it following Hurricane María.

“After the hurricane, everything changed in the life of the Puerto Rican people, including the church,” they said. “Approximately 16 people went to the United States, including children and whole families.”

Many homes in the area of Misión Bautista Cristo Restaura were flooded, they said, and electricity was unavailable for months.

Twenty-eight youth volunteers from Prairie Baptist Church, Prairie Village, Kan., painted the exterior of Misión Bautista Cristo Restaura. Ten volunteers from First Baptist Church of Mount Holly, N.J., repaired the church’s roof and electricity.

Stranded when the bridge near her house collapsed during Hurricane María, the Rev. Carmen Zoraida Díaz of Primera Iglesia Bautista, Corral Viejo, Ponce, agonized about the safety of her parishioners. The church was unreachable, and communication was impossible.

“I learned to let go of the pain,” she said. “The retreat helped me escape with my partner for a while. It gave me the opportunity to talk with other pastors and get to know each other. It was refreshing, and my husband and I could rest. I feel very grateful for the retreat.”

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.