On Tuesday, April 26, a Kentucky WMU team of six left for Puerto Rico. Team members are Linda Cooper, Susan Bryant, Patricia Reaves, Marilyn Creighton, Wendy Stout, and Joy Bolton. The purpose of this trip has been to prayerwalk sites where other Kentucky teams will work later this year and to lead a retreat for Puerto Rico WMU.
On Wednesday we visited the Puerto Rico Baptist Convention Office. In addition to offices for convention work, seminary classes are held here. There is also a Baptist camp with housing and conference space.
From there we traveled across the mountains to the south side of the island. We visited Villalba and the Mision Templo Bautita Oasis de Amor. Pastor Issai Aviles has a passion to reach the community. The current facility of the church is a rented building with plenty of parking. We were able to prayerwalk on three streets, then drove around the community to pray for more areas. Drugs, alcohol abuse, school drop outs are all problems. The pastor wants to reach entire families with the gospel.
We drove on to Mayaguez to spend the night and prayerwalk on Thursday morning. After breakfast with members of Iglesia de Jesus Cristo, Pastor Carmelo Medina took us to the church to hear about their needs. Several members of the church joined us for prayerwalking which allowed us to divide into several teams and go to different areas. Then we went into downtown Mayaguez to the inner city mission that Rev. Medina also pastors. We walked the streets of Mayaguez, even praying in the townhall building and the local Catholic church. We met a policeman who welcomed us to the city and encouraged us to write the mayor our impressions of Malaguez.
On Thursday afternoon we headed to Arecibo where we met Pastor Carlos A. De Jesus. Iglesia Bautista Sendero de Luz is a small church located in what one person referred to as “the hole.” The church has little parking and wants to move to a better location. Pastor Carlos took us prayer driving around the hilly community that he wants to reach. In the center of the community, there is a community center and ball field. He hopes to have activities there this summer to reach kids. Thus far, the strongly Catholic area has been very resistent to his efforts. Parents have not allowed children to participate in activities and there has been limited response to events such as concerts for the entire community. Pray for a better location for this congregation of about 30 and pray for open doors for the gospel. Drugs and gang violence are a great problem in the area.
Our WMU retreat was held at Iglesia Bautista de Fe on Friday evening and Saturday morning. The theme of the retreat was “Spiritual Life.” We were given three topics and we divided up the time between our team members. Marilyn and I spoke about our Spiritual Journey. Linda and Susan provided insights on how to grow in your spiritual life. Pat and Wendy spoke about WMU focus areas and why we teach missions to children. Kentucky WMU provided copies of Nuestra Tarea, prayerwalking cards, and a WMU brochure in Spanish to each participant. Linda and Pat even had handouts in Spanish!
After the retreat we enjoyed a wonderful Puerto Rican lunch with conference participants, then drove back to San Juan. Today the team attended a small English speaking church and is visiting the area this afternoon. Tomorrow we prayerwalk at Iglesia Bautista Belen, Carolina. After lunch, we head back to the airport and travel home.
My first prayerwalking experience was in 1997 in the country of Kyrgyzstan. People wondered why we were going. “Can’t you pray at home?” was a frequent question. Yes, we can pray at home, but often do not. There is something significant about being at the site, hearing about the needs, and praying. In Kyrgyzstan in 1997, there were only about 20 known Christians. In the years since, the number has grown and WMU’s World Crafts is even carrying a nativity set and other items from Master’s Handicrafts made in Kyrgyzstan. Prayer does make a difference!
During the three year KBC partnership with the Piaui Baptist Convention in Northern Brazil, WMU teams went each year to pray. We are excited to have this opportunity to pray for the communities and KBC teams where will work this summer. Please keep them in your prayers, too!