Adventist volunteer in British Virgin Islands in post-hurricane reconstruction

Dozens of volunteers rebuild roofs and walls after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands | NCC Staff/IAD Staff

Seventh-day Adventists in the British Virgin Islands have been volunteering their time and talents to numerous roof reconstruction projects in the wake of the devastating 2017 hurricane season. The British Virgin Islands are comprised of Virgin Gorda, Tortola and St. Maarten.

Dozens of volunteers took to rebuilding roofs, walls and assisting the many disrupted by the destructive winds of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes that preaching the Good News must be accompanied with good deeds, so the community must be impacted by the church,” said Henry Peters, community services director of the church in the North Caribbean region. “It’s fulfilling the mission we all embrace.”

Peters said that volunteering has meant more for church members than building a house. “They are building meaningful relationships while working alongside each other and at the same time have been sharing the love of Jesus,” said Peters.  “It is truly a life-changing experience for the brethren and the community alike.”

Volunteers completely rebuilt the house entire roof of one home, a job that took five weeks to complete, church leaders said.

The building committee of the Virgin Gorda Adventist Church galvanized all able-bodied members to invest weekends and afternoons into community roof-replacement projects. Building materials were sourced by a private donor from the Czech Republic and have been directed to residents who have no insurance to cover replacement costs.

The government, upon hearing of the initiative, provided gloves, saws, extension chords and tools to assist in the rebuilding.

“We are in the process of assisting [residents] rebuild their homes,” said district pastor Sylvester Williams. “A life touched by God always ends in touching others.”  It’s about touching the lives through positive influence, compassion and caring, he said. “Love is the best way to lead and move others toward God. It’s a church-community service project,” he added.

In addition, the community of believers in Tortola are similarly poised for re-construction. Unlike its sister church on Virgin Gorda, which was relatively unscathed, the Adventist Church’s properties on Tortola sustained major damage.  The Carrot Bay Adventist Church was severely battered by storm surge, the first floor of the Road Town Adventist Church was demolished, and the church school was severely damaged as well.

“God has been good to us, and we are moving on,” expressed Nigel Henry, a church elder on the island of Tortola. He said church members remain optimistic, despite the slow rebuilding process.

“The members continue to be strong and resilient. Many of them have been affected, and we are trying all we can to support them and be there for them,” added Pastor Howard Simon, one of two Adventist pastors on Tortola.

On St. Maarten, members of the Philipsburg Adventist Church are also engaged in re-construction. The church voted to spend $30,000.00 to assist its members in putting their lives back together and provision has been made for the community. “It’s a commendable effort from the church and its members,” said Pastor Desmond James, president of the church in North Caribbean region.  “It’s about building bridges to your community.”

The Seventh-day Adventist community in the British Virgin Islands worships in nine congregations which are led by three pastors. The church oversees the BVI Adventist School, which is an accredited institution with over 300 students in the primary and secondary divisions. On St. Maarten, the community of believers worships in nine congregations and manages a primary school. The institutions of influence in the BVI and St. Maarten are managed by the North Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.