Members of the Rocky Point congregation meet for the first time under a special tent on Sabbath, Sep. 11, 2021. The church was destroyed by Hurricane Iota on Nov. 2020. Construction of the new church is planned to begin within the next 12 months.  [Photo: Colombia Islands Mission]

September 30, 2021 | Providencia, North Colombia | Daniela Arrieta and Inter-American Division News

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 Colombian Islands of San Andrés and Providencia with 160 mile-per-hour winds on Nov. 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 and was left without a place to meet.

Special tent recently set up for the Rocky Point Adventist Church in Providencia, North Colombia, where church members are able to meet every week. Hurricane Iota destroyed the church and members will meet under the tent while reconstruction for the new church begins soon. [Photo: Colombia Islands Mission]

“We experienced challenges with the logistics with transportation into the island ad 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,” he added.

Members of the Central Adventist Church in Providencia listen to psychologist Lorena Peña speak while she offers emotional support to those who suffered great loss during the pandemic as well as after the passage of Hurricane Iota, in Nov. 2020. [Photo: Colombia Islands Mission]

It was important to gather dozens of members who are still living on the island on Sep. 11, 2021, said Gallego. “Most of our congregations have been meeting outdoors, in small groups, usually under a tree every week,” he said.

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.

Members and visitors gather at the Bethel Adventist Church on Sep. 11, 2021, nearly one year after Hurricane Iota damaged the roof. It was the only church that suffered the least damages out of the four congregations on the Island of Providence, in North Colombia. [Photo: Colombia Islands Mission]

“All were organized by two’s 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,” he added.

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 high demand of materials and increased costs.

A group of church members from the Rocky Point Adventist Church in Providencia, North Colombia, pose for a photo dressed in their t-shirts to visit their community during missionary outreach on Sep. 11, 2021. [Photo: Colombia Islands Mission]

“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.

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