The Puerto Rico Miracle
The situation in Puerto Rico may seem like a strange thing for Harvest Bridge, a ministry solely focused on South Asia, to highlight.
Here's how Puerto Rico and Harvest Bridge are connected. It's a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ.
Global Commission Partners (GCP), is our oldest partner in coming alongside indigenous missionaries in South Asia. GCP provides monthly support for many of our missionaries. We've worked with GCP since 2009, shortly after Harvest Bridge was born.
Recently, I spoke with my friend Axel Lanausse, President and Founder of GCP, about the crisis in Puerto Rico and the big-heartedness of its people. Many Americans are aware of Puerto Rico’s economic need, but few are aware of Puerto Rico’s generosity.
75% of Puerto Ricans contribute to charity, compared to 56% of mainland Americans. Its churches respond eagerly and liberally to crises in other nations. This generosity extends even to our Asian partners.
Puerto Rican churches provide about 75% of the revenues of Global Commission Partners, which supports missionaries and impoverished children around the world, including those in our ministry network. In fact, Puerto Ricans give monthly support to approximately 142 of our 268 mission partners, and 27 of our sponsored children.
No other group has given more.
Even before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was economically poor.
Puerto Rico’s cost of living is 13% higher than cities in America’s mainland, but its per capita income is only about half of Mississippi’s, our poorest state. The population of Puerto Rico is falling, along with its tax base, because poor job prospects drive people to leave the island in search of work. With $74 billion in debt and $50 billion in pension obligations, Puerto Rico is bankrupt.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria made life infinitely more difficult for the average Puerto Rican.
A month after the disaster, 86% of the families are still without electricity. About 40% of the families do not have drinking water; most of the rest drink contaminated water, sporadically. 80% of the value of Puerto Rico’s crops has been lost. The damaged electric grid, bridges, and roads have paralyzed the economy. Businesses are closing, and unemployment – which was already high – is growing.
The huge hearts of the Puerto Rican people are even more evident in their response to the hurricane. In addition to helping one another rebuild, they are determined to honor their commitments to worldwide missions.
Amazingly, only one church has suspended its support of Global Commission Partners, and only for three months. At a time when Puerto Rican Christians must sacrifice just to survive, they make further sacrifices because of their love for people on the other side of the globe.
This is something that none of us would ever ask of them; it is because of their love for God and for people they have never met.
It would be fitting to replace “Macedonian” with “Puerto Rican” in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
"And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian [or, Puerto Rican] churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people". ~ 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, NIV
Friends, if this moves you as it moves me, please send a donation this month for the people of Puerto Rico. Global Commission Partners intimately understands Puerto Rico and has an incredible love for its people.
You can give directly on GCP's site, here.
Many blessings in Christ,
Dr. Tim Mech,