This past week I was able to deliver the funds raised by CrossWay Missions to the Marsh Harbour Church of Christ. Those funds, a total of $32,306.00, were received with gratitude and humility by Lessie Rolle, the minister of the Marsh Harbour church. Though my visit to Abaco was brief, it was an overwhelming experience filled with both joy and sorrow.
Sorrow… because not much has changed since the hurricane hit, with the exception of some clean-up and partial water flow, (which is still non-potable).
As I flew into the Marsh Harbour Airport, looking out my window I couldn’t help but notice that what was once a lush green landscape was now a dead and dirty brown countryside. So much saltwater storm surge dispersed by the storm’s 200 plus miles per hour winds killed the tall slender pines that populated the island. Also, the many tornadoes spawned by Dorian coupled with its Cat 5 winds snapped thousands of them like matchsticks.
The devastation from the monster storm is still overwhelming. Pictures fail to convey the magnitude of the disaster. Everywhere you turn, the storm’s fury has marked everything… every home, every business, and in many ways, every person.
Approximately 2 out of 10 Abaconians have returned to the island in an effort to resume their lives, but it is impossible to return to normalcy when there is no electrical power and the water from the tap is still undrinkable. The Bahamian Government must bear the responsibility for its failure to restore power and water almost 6 months out from the storm. Businesses will not return until there is electrical power and most people will not return until there are jobs provided by those businesses… normalcy is still months, if not years away.
Many of the Bahamian people have nightmarish and traumatic memories of the storm and the fact that they were in a very real danger of dying in the category 5 hurricane. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common among the good people of Abaco. “Everyone on the island had PTSD,” said Wendy Lantz, an ER nurse with Flagler Hospital.
Yet, despite the trauma and destruction from the storm and despite the difficulties of living without electrical power and running potable water… despite the loss of personal property and personal treasures, the Abaconians are still optimistic and thankful. The people from the church still thank God for His protection and that no lives were lost from the membership of the church. They are still joyous and laugh often when many others would moan, complain, and give up. Their faith in God has not diminished, but rather, it has grown… and for good reason.
The Marsh Harbour church under the leadership of the local minister, Leslie Rolle, resumed Sunday worship within two weeks of the storm – that service saw 3-6 people in attendance. Since then, with stateside aid from many individuals and churches, the church has been passing out food, water, blankets, generators, inflatable beds, flashlights, propane, and many other necessities of life. NOW… the church has as many as 60 people at Sunday worship! God is using this disaster to draw people to His church. God is fulfilling His promise…
“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NAS
Hopefully, the aid that CrossWay Missions and IDES has provided the church will continue to help them in the long recovery process. Please do not forget about these good people… they still have so far to go and they still need our help.
God bless you.