Hurricane Maria is the latest in a seemingly endless line of tropical storms to devastate islands in the western Atlantic. Tragically, this week the island nation of Dominca suffered the brunt of 160 mph winds, leaving the lives of some 73,000 residents in ruins.
We have probably spent vacation time in one or more of the islands impacted by this season’s hurricanes: Antiqua, Anquilla, Baruda, The Bahamas, Cuba, Culebra, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe. Haiti, Montserrat, Nevis, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, St. John, St.Kitts, St. Martin, Turks and Caicos, Vieques, and the Virgin Islands. The extent of the losses is simply “mindboggling.” It will take years for people in the Caribbean to rebuild their homes and lives.
Sadly, these tragedies have come precisely at the time when the United Church of Christ’s Global Ministries is promoting its “Caribbean Initiative,” an 18-month program designed to raise consciousness of the issues, priorities, successes and struggles of our partners in seven Caribbean nations, including Venezuela and Colombia. Needless to say, the Initiative (announced this past summer) will be taking on an entirely different meaning and context.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by the storms and the UCC Disaster ministries endeavoring to assess the overwhelming need. Among the original objectives of the “Caribbean Initiative” is to know the joys and concerns of our neighbors, and in so doing, understand ourselves, our world and our faith anew. Little did we know how important those goals would soon become.