There’s no denying we live in troubled times. Warring political ideologies have split America down the middle. Issues of race and free speech have been thrust violently into the national spotlight. Every week seems to bring a new protest, a new outrage, or a new reason to believe the worst about each other. Meanwhile, amidst all the chaos and social media sniping, people in desperate need of help are being forgotten.
Nowhere is this more evident than the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico. Following landfall of Hurricane Maria, the once thriving island has been completely devastated. Multiple transmission failures have left 100% of the island without power, while flattened crop fields suggest a major food shortage is looming on the horizon. Reports from Vox say the few remaining hospitals in Puerto Rico are on the verge of collapse, as medical professionals scramble frantically to locate generators, food supplies, and even drinkable water. Yet, for all their suffering, the plight of these American citizens has been largely overshadowed in the daily news.
Whatever Christians may be feeling over the latest drama to pop up in their Facebook feed, it should take a distant second to the current crisis in Puerto Rico. With so many people crying out for help, the Church must be roused to action. This is an effort which all Americans (as put succinctly by a New York Times editorial) should be able to stand behind,
“Maria leaves a whole new level of recovery to be scaled. No one has yet estimated the full cost. Federal money will be the most critical factor, in the view of recovery specialists. They dare to hope the sweep of the hurricane’s destruction may provide a theoretical, if bleak, spark for long overdue modernization on the island.”
“All Americans should rally forcefully behind their fellow citizens left suffering on the island as it labors to recover. It is up to mainland leaders not to stint on aid for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, however lacking they may be in political clout in Washington.”
So what can you do to help? Well, listed below are four small ways Christians can contribute to the safety and rebuilding of Puerto Rico.
- Donate: Several charitable organizations have already begun providing emergency relief to the people of Puerto Rico. UNICEF is giving immediate support to children affected by Hurricane Maria. Meanwhile, The Salvation Army, World Vision, Samaritan's Purse and The American Red Cross are delivering food, water, and medicine to areas in need. You can donate money simply by clicking on their respective links and following the instructions.
- Raise Awareness: When next you post of social media, try to raise awareness for the people in need. Link to articles about the current state of conditionson the island, or encourage friends to donate what they can. Let’s cut through the hatred and offer a message of hope instead.
- Mobilize Your Church: There’s no telling what the Church can accomplish when it’s united in the work of Christ. The government of Puerto Rico has launched a guide which details how individuals or companies can donate emergency supplies to the reconstruction efforts. Why not have your congregation start a campaign for canned food or bottled water?
- Pray: God is always present, even in the worst of times. Take a moment during your day to lift up the people displaced by Hurricane Maria and ask God to watch over them in the months ahead. Pray for the rescue workers who regularly put themselves in danger to help others, and ask the Lord to move in his people, so that we may demonstrate his love to this troubled world.
Take this moment and consider how you can best help the people of Puerto Rico!
*Ryan Duncan is an Editor of Crosswalk.com