Maria Devastated Puerto Rico. It Didn’t Destroy the Church.

Earlier this month, you couldn’t turn a television on without seeing footage of Hurricane Florence. As of recording, the storm has been blamed for the deaths of 42 people in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and costing billions of dollars of damage. Yet, in many ways, national attention has already moved on. That’s something that Puerto Rico knows too well. It’s been a year since the storm claimed 64 immediate deaths and catalyzed the exodus of thousands of Puerto Ricans from the island and a sense of hopelessness in the territory at large. The loss of community was especially hard for Puerto Ricans like Gadiel Ríos, a pastor in Arecibo, who stayed on the island.  “Everyone lost their friends, everyone lost family,” said Ríos, who is also the founder of the ministry ReformaDos. “The main problem we are facing now is despair and then because of their despair people tend to [fall] into depression...People feel lonely and frustrated.” Ríos joined associate digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss how the church is ministering to the overwhelmed, how Mainlanders encouraged those on the island, and the state of Puerto Rico’s evangelical community.

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