Stories to Inspire
Hurricane Maria Miracle
It was in Houston, Texas that our ministry, Sanctuary of Healthy Living, had the first opportunity to attend an ASI Convention. By the end of the convention, we were very motivated and challenged by God to continue with our missionary plans in Puerto Rico. But what we did not know was that, in only a few weeks, our plans would rapidly change with the arrival of Hurricane Maria.
Maria was a devastating hurricane that left us without communication, both locally and internationally, for several days; many people were without it for several weeks. This turn of events led to an immediate change in our ministry’s agenda which ended up being a great blessing.
After the hurricane, those of us who lived nearby or attended the same church organized ourselves and, together with ADRA Puerto Rico, we reached five areas on the Western side of Puerto Rico (Maricao, Anasco, El Maní, Mayagüez, and Las Marías). We helped individuals and families by providing them with drinking water, hot food, non-perishable food, clothing, essential items, disposable diapers, ice, etc. Additionally, we gave each person a copy of The Great Controversy as well as literature on various topics. We thanked God that people were very receptive; many even wanted us to pray for them and with them. They wanted to hear the promises of safety from our Heavenly Father. Those were weeks of hard work in the communities, but we saw the power of God manifested in so many different ways.
We met ex-Adventists who, with tears in their eyes, recognized that time was running out; we invited them to “come home.” Others gave glory to God, not only for the hot food or the items they received, but also for recovering the book The Great Controversy that the hurricane had “taken.”
As the days went by, needs began to change, so our services adjusted to meet the new needs. A beautiful quote from The Ministry of Healing says, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”
As time passed, many people began to lose hope that electricity and other services would be restored. Many were in depression and experiencing anxiety. One time, when we arrived at an apartment building, a social worker asked us to help with issues of depression, since cases of depression were increasing in that building. Having done Dr. Nedley’s certificate program on depression recovery, we immediately accepted the call and asked for God’s direction. We organized and received help from the Adventurers Club and members of the First Adventist Church of Mayagüez. We visited each apartment and invited all the residents to a “How to Get Out of Depression” seminar. The first day, we had a nice group of people who attended. One young woman, named Valeria, attended every single meeting. She was attentive to each recommendation and read each assignment that was given. By the third or fourth meeting, several of the attendees began to use their Bibles to look for the promises we shared from the Word of God. One day, we invited the group to an Expo Salud and to an evangelistic series that would take place in an Adventist church close by. Several accepted the invitation and went, including Valeria, who brought her older sister, two of her friends, a neighbor, and her daughter.
Valeria has found the path to restoring her life through the promises of God. She has accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as the only means to be saved, and she has decided to give her life to Jesus. She is considering continuing her university studies at Antillean Adventist University and going canvassing over the summer.
Valeria says, “I was in depression for a long time; everything you have said about depression is true because I experienced it. I took medication, I was in counseling, but none of that helped me. What you have taught me has really helped me; studying the Bible and knowing God… Also, making the changes in my lifestyle; drinking water, exercising, reviewing what I eat, everything has been very helpful for me.”
Now Valeria attends church regularly, as well as the vegetarian cooking classes we give, and she loves trying out new recipes. But better than all of that, Valeria is taking Bible studies and is planning to be baptized soon. We thank God for His wonderful providence. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11, NKJV).
The enemy wanted to do evil in Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria, but God transformed it into a blessing for many people such as Valeria. The lives of many are being restored to the glory of God. We ask that you please keep Valeria and her family in your prayers, as well as the Sanctuary of Healthy Living ministry. We pray that we can continue to share the message of salvation with many people in Puerto Rico.