Nearly a year after Hurricane Iota devastated the Providencia Island in North Colombia, Seventh-day Adventists recently met for worship inside churches or special tents. Hurricane Iota barreled through the Colombian Islands of San Andrés and Providencia with 160 mile-per-hour winds on November 16, 2020.
Out of four congregations, one church was completely destroyed, two others were damaged, and a fourth congregation was meeting weekly at a rented location, left without a place of its own.
“We experienced challenges with the logistics with transportation into the island and shortage of materials, so it delayed our plans to repair or rebuild the affected church structures for the Central and Bethel congregations,” said Pastor Johnathan Gallego, president of the Colombian Islands Mission.
The Rocky Point Adventist Church was destroyed, so a large tent was set up on a metal frame for worship services while plans are still pending for reconstruction within the next 12 months, said Gallego. “Members of the Cedar Valley Church also began meeting under a provisional tent while they procure a better location to worship God.”
It was important to gather dozens of members who are still living on the island on September 11, 2021, said Gallego. “Most of our congregations have been meeting outdoors, in small groups, usually under a tree every week.”
Sabbath afternoon saw 120 church members from the four congregations ready to be involved in missionary outreach on the island. Members were given specially designed t-shirts, Bible study booklets, and missionary survey sheets to impact their communities and share the gospel with their fellow islanders.
“All were organized by twos to reach Providencia, reaching homes in various communities, looking for persons interested in learning more about preventive health and Bible knowledge,” explained Gallego. “Even with the challenges, church members have not stopped from sharing hope in their neighborhoods.”
Throughout the past 11 months, the Adventist Church has been instrumental in assisting those affected by Hurricane Iota. Hundreds of stoves, pots, blenders, sheets, towels, pillows, hygiene kits, food baskets, fans, and more were distributed among the island’s residents, yet the process of rebuilding has been slow because of the high demand for materials and increased costs.
“We will continue to offer spiritual support as well as physical and emotional needs as much as possible,” Gallego said.
There are more than 1,100 Seventh-day Adventists worshiping in 12 churches and congregations in the Colombian Islands of San Andres and Providencia.