Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Moving to Puerto Rico
An Untapped Field
In September 1990 we moved our family to St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands to work with the church and stayed 8 years. The Lord blessed our efforts there—more than 80 were baptized during that time, most of whom remain faithful. The majority of them have left St. Croix and have gone back home or moved on to the States. Throughout those years I also preached on other islands in both English and Spanish.
More than 25 million people live in the Eastern Caribbean and presently there are only 4 full time preachers. The number of sound churches is also small—20 or so on less than 10 islands. This means that there are more than 30 islands where there is not a sound church at all and since each island is its own little world, these people have little access to the pure Gospel. My wife Dana and I have again felt the need for more full time workers in the Eastern Caribbean for over a year now and after much prayer, thought, and preparation have decided to move to Puerto Rico in the spring of 2007—sooner if the support can be raised. Puerto Rico itself has 4,000,000 people. Because I am fluent in Spanish and we have lived in the Caribbean before we have many contacts there already, as I have continued to visit and follow up on them.
There is one solid church and 2 others we have been working with; a total of less than 50 Christians in all. Our plan is to work with the churches in the Caparra Terrace neighborhood in San Juan, a metro area of 2 million. The Spanish speaking church is down to 4 members and the English speaking church that shares their building has only about 10. A family of 3 Christians will be moving from NJ to the west end of the island where there is no sound church so we are hoping this can be a beginning to work in this area. People in Puerto Rico have been leaving the Catholic Church for at least a generation and as the economic situation becomes more precarious many are realizing that God is the answer to their problems, not man. Joe Carrasquillo has been preaching full-time for the church in Dorado for a couple of years and they have baptized 5-6 each year. Edward Rangel, who presently preaches in Trafalgar, IN is also planning to move and work with us—with Edward there the work should not be affected when I travel to the other islands. This will also allow us to preach in other churches on Puerto Rico as we have opportunity.
Our goal in moving is not only to work in Puerto Rico, but in the other islands as well. The Dominican Republic is a country of 9 million people less than an hour away--the opportunities are almost limitless. As the liberals get farther and farther from the Bible some liberal brethren are now open to us. In the Dominican Republic there are NO full-time preachers, so it is imperative that Ed and I spend as much time with them as possible. We were there in May and had some openings among the liberals that are promising. And while the numbers on the other islands are not as large as they are in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, there is still much to be done among them as well. I first went to Dominica in 1992, to the only sound church; now there are 3. In St. Vincent the people are not only are receptive to the Gospel, but they also will make time to study--you can walk down the street setting up Bible studies. The churches in Georgetown and Owia accept me readily and although they have not cut their ties with the liberals they are making progress. We need to follow up on contacts in St. Lucia, St. Maarten, and Aruba. The church in Tortola and 1 in St. Thomas need more teaching concerning liberalism—they’re both making good progress, but need encouragement as well as further teaching. I recently came into e-mail contact with a couple who are Christians in Guadeloupe, a French speaking island. Brethren, there is so much work to do among the English speaking islands--we need workers who can come to help us follow up.
I have been to Venezuela 5 times and the work there is going very well. The first time I was there I visited 8 of the 12 churches in the country in 2 weeks. It would take a month now as there are at least 25 churches. Most of the islands can be easily reached from Puerto Rico in a few hours—even Caracas, Venezuela is only 3 hours away. My plans are to spend 7-10 days a month (8 months out of the year) working in the other islands. With Edward Rangel working there with us the work in Puerto Rico should not suffer during my absences.
The cost of living is high in Puerto Rico. We are expecting to pay about $1800 a month for rent and $600 for utilities. Food is also much higher. I will be providing all my own office supplies, long distance, computer supplies, etc. that are frequently provided by the churches here in the States. Social security & taxes will be over $1000 a month. Overall, we expect our expenses to be about 35 % higher than here in the States. We would appreciate any support you can give and your help in getting the word out to others.