Churches Rebuilt in the Caribbean
Road Town Anniversary and Rededication
A rededication and twenty-fifth anniversary service was held on March 15 for the Road Town Apostolic Faith Church on the island of Tortola, British Virgin Islands. The church was recently rebuilt after being struck almost two years ago by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, both Category 5. The first hit on September 6, 2017, with winds reaching up to 185 miles per hour. It caused significant damage to eighty percent of the island structures, including four thousand homes. The second storm arrived two weeks later, with less wind but producing a foot of rain. Eastern Caribbean District Superintendent Michael Anthony and his wife, Monica, lost fourteen windows and three doors from their home, yet this was minor compared to their neighbors who all lost their roofs.
Five months after the hurricanes, on February 11, 2018, the Road Town congregation met in the rubble of the church to pray, and determined that they would rebuild. The insurance money did not come close to covering the cost, but church and community members alike stepped forward in miraculous ways—so much so, that Reverend Anthony commented, “The only bank involved was the bank of Heaven.”
By March of this year, reconstruction was nearly complete and a rededication service was held in conjunction with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the original construction. The service was attended by many guests including Superintendent General Darrel Lee and his wife, Debbie; Director of Caribbean Work Tim DeBusk and his wife, Lisa; and newly appointed Dominican Republic District Superintendent Deivys Pichardo.
Reconstruction on the island is ongoing; many homes were abandoned and the families still have not returned. Yet the Road Town church is a monument to what the Lord can do.
During the service, a brief history of the Tortola work was given. In 1938, the East End church was formed, and then in 1969, to accommodate members residing in Road Town and West End, services began to be held in two locations in Long Bush. For many years following, these two groups prayed about purchasing land and constructing a permanent place of worship. Numerous attempts were made toward this end, including obtaining a list of landowners and approaching each with an offer to buy their property, but every effort was met by obstacles. It was not until a new Chief Minister to the island was appointed that the groups were able to procure a parcel of land. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Saturday, January 11, 1992, and two years later, the dedication ceremony for the new building was held on February 14, 1994. That service was actually the first time Reverend Anthony visited an Apostolic Faith church.
As the rededication service continued, the choir of the East End Apostolic Faith Church provided a musical special, and their pastor, Reverend Pearl Smith, shared remarks. Several others also addressed the congregation, including the visitors from overseas and the Deputy Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Honorable Dr. Natalio Wheatley. Following the dedicatory prayer and a message by Reverend DeBusk, the service concluded with the benediction given by Reverend Anthony.
Reconstruction on the island is ongoing; many homes were abandoned and the families still have not returned. Yet the Road Town church is a monument to what the Lord can do. We give Him the glory for providing the means for the saints to be able to fellowship and worship together again.
Bishop Hill Dedication
On March 17, the Bishop Hill church on the island of St. Maarten in the Netherland Antilles was dedicated. This island was also struck by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, with some of the local church members losing their homes and the rented church facility in Sucker Garden being completely destroyed. In contrast, the Bishop Hill church, which was under construction at the time of the storms, sustained no damage. The congregation was able to move their services to the partially completed building as construction continued.
The dedication ceremony began with the Haitian National Anthem followed by the St. Maarten National Anthem, and a selection from the choir. Rolland Deler, the Haiti District Superintendent who also oversees the St. Maarten work, welcomed everyone, recognizing the visiting guests.
Remarks were made by the Bishop Hill (and previously Sucker Garden) pastor, Fecu Commandant, and Reverend Pichardo. A Scripture reading from Psalm 136 was given by the pastors of the other two churches on the island: Emeric Jerome from Cole Bay and Eugene Hodge from Sandy Ground. Then the dedicatory prayer was given by Reverend DeBusk.
The building has been under construction for the past fifteen years, and though some work remains to be done, the vision of an Apostolic Faith-owned church on St. Maarten has come to pass, and it is beautiful.
A history of the Bishop Hill church was shared by Reverend Deler. He explained that the Sucker Garden congregation formed in 1991. Nine years later, they received a notice to vacate the building so the property could be developed. Reverend Deler, who was then the Sucker Garden pastor, took the notice to the altar and laid it before the Lord. He prayed, asking that God provide the Apostolic Faith with land and a church building on St. Maarten for the sake of future generations should He tarry. Two years later, the Bishop Hill property was posted for sale. The church made an offer and it was accepted, but at the closing, the seller raised the price, so the church walked away. At that time, Reverend Deler made the bold statement to the owner that because God wanted the property, he would not be able to find another buyer. This proved to be true, and six months later, the property was sold to the congregation.
The building has been under construction for the past fifteen years, and though some work remains to be done, the vision of an Apostolic Faith-owned church on St. Maarten has come to pass, and it is beautiful. The dedication service was a celebration for the saints, and we rejoice with them.