This past week, I had the privilege of leading a team of students and adults on a short-term missions outreach to Nassau, The Bahamas.
We had the opportunity to partner with Progress Academy, a small Christian school there. We also had opportunities to meet the needs of survivors of Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco. We prayed and played, laughed and cried, worked and rested. It was a glorious week, and we hope to return again next year.
The Bahamas is a study in contrast. Down by the waterfront where the cruise ships dock, it is a different world. It is a glorious screensaver photo that is so terribly unreal for the majority of the people who live there. It is not common for both parents to work — sometimes two jobs each — just to put food on the table and pay the rent.
Since the hurricane, many refugees have poured into Nassau, straining an already overwhelmed system. We met a family of 26 sharing one townhome. Family members ran from place to place trying to find shelter as the flood waters destroyed Abaco Island. Many of their extended family and friends were not so fortunate. Yet, in spite of their situation, they rejoiced in the goodness of God on their behalf. Their faith had not faltered; it had grown exponentially through the tragedy.
Everywhere we went we found people whose lives were affected. It will take decades for the people of The Bahamas to rebuild their lives, not to mention their homes, communities and livelihoods.
Progress Academy is a K3-6 school that reminds me of the story of "The Little Engine That Could." They do so much with so little. For bulletin boards, they fastened old cardboard boxes to the wall and covered them with bright paper and borders. The teachers share supplies and are expected to do everything that needs to be done, from teaching to mopping floors. They are rock stars! And they love their students so much.
We were able to come alongside of them and help in any way we could. My wife, Barbara, and Shelly Kallis mentored the K3/4 and K5 teachers and worked with some of their special needs students. Several of the young men worked one-on-one with individual students who needed a boost in the ladder of success.
Our main project at the school was to provide computers for the teachers and to set up a computer lab for the students. Many people came together to raise the money to purchase 20 computers. One of the men from our church, Adam Osterlund, installed a WiFi system and set up the computer lab. Dr. Katherine Joseph was his very capable assistant.
I was privileged to lead a devotional time each morning for the students and staff. I also was invited to preach in the church pastored by Pastor Simeon Hepburn, our Praying Pelican Missions team leader’s dad. Pastor Hepburn is a remarkable man. Although he is blind, he still continues in full-time pastoral ministry.
I love our community of Two Harbors and I love my church, Living Waters Fellowship. They are my family.
I also love the people of The Bahamas. They are a kind, loving and generous people, who are very gracious and hospitable. Part of my heart is there and I look forward to seeing them again.
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.