I have traveled to the Bahamas several times in my life. Growing up, my family gathered several times in Freeport, Bahamas after Christmas, to celebrate the incoming new year. The islands were warm. The water clear and blue. The houses and streets were colorful, and the people were joy-filled. The fishing was tremendous, and I had my first taste of conch and hearts of Palm salad on the islands. The music and dancing got your heart pumping and all varieties and cultures of people paraded along the streets and in various gathering places every evening to give thanks for the old year and to celebrate the new! I experienced beauty, joy, color, different cultures, new food, exciting music, warm and friendly people, water clearer and sea life prettier than I had ever experienced it before.
My heart aches for the people of the Bahamas. Places that I have visited, people that I encountered literally wiped out, washed away. A place filled with hopes and dreams, excitement and life, now literally caught in the midst of a nightmare.
It continues to be a rescue operation. People need safe water, food, medical care, shelter, a shoulder to cry on, prayers abundant and people who can bring hope in the midst of tremendous loss. I give thanks for the first responders. I give thanks for those who are giving support and help in a variety of ways so that the people of the Bahamas know that all is not lost and that people – people that they don’t even know – believe that they are valuable, that they matter, that they are worth the rescue and recovery efforts that have begun and will be ongoing.
The days ahead will be filled with grief. The journey will be challenging. The Bahamas will need help – material physical help – and spiritual help and hope – for a very, very long time. As Hurricane Dorian turns its power toward the U.S. and as we prepare for rescue and recovery in this country, let us not forget to share our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness with those whose homes and livelihoods have been washed away by a much stronger storm than we will experience.
O God, bring your healing power, hope, and strength to your people in the Bahamas. Pour your Spirit into your children around the world to hear the cry of those in shock, loss, and grief and to respond in ways that bring your resurrection power and your promise of new life!