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Adventists in St. Maarten prepare hot meals for dozens of volunteers everyday

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Adventists in St. Maarten prepare hot meals for dozens of volunteers everyday

May 04, 2020  |  Sint Maarten  | 

Adventists in St. Maarten prepare hot meals for dozens of volunteers everyday

For more than three weeks now, a group of Seventh-day Adventists across the Dutch Island of Sint Maarten have been serving over 300 meals to volunteers who have been assisting the government in packing and distributing meals to seniors and other citizens who depend on the country’s social aid system.  Volunteers from churches throughout the island have been preparing the hot meals six days a week since Apr. 5, 2020, as the island continues a nation-wide curfew because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said.

“Because the country is on lockdown and under curfew, the government is still taking care of the seniors and challenged members of the community,” said Pastor Vashni Cuvalay, coordinator of the Adventist work on Sint Maarten and main organizer of the church’s response. Cuvalay said that residents were told that the Ministry of social Services was assigned the responsibility to distribute food to those who were considered most vulnerable—those who were physically challenged 65 years and older who could not take care of themselves. “We wanted to support as a church to cook meals for these volunteers.”

Armed with personal protection equipment, paper towels and hand sanitzers, the 20 church member volunteers have been eager to assist.   They also assisted in donating a three-week supply of food to dozens of the most needy senior citizens.

There are currently over 3,000 elderly citizens under the government’s care on the island.

“We have committed [church member] volunteers who are excited to assist in continuing to serve,” added Cuvalay.

Leontine Joseph, one of the members preparing the hot meals, said she was happy to be part of a church that is helping to stop the spread of the virus by supporting those volunteers.  “The opportunity to give back is appropriate considering the public’s concern about the pandemic,” said Joseph.

The church’s response team included its Community Services department which is widely-known for providing care and relief to neighborhoods grappling with social ills and disasters.  “It’s the reputation of the church and its involvement that is the reason for the partnership,” explained Cuvalay.

“On Sint Maarten, the leaders are using the opportunity to be the hands of God and deliver capable ministry to the community,” said Pastor Desmond James, president of the church in the North Caribbean Conference, which oversees the church on Sint Maarten and nine other islands.  Pastor James invited all leaders and members to unleash ministries of compassion within churches and communities.

“Seek out those in need, help the downtrodden, provide for the aged and challenged, comfort the bereaved, and give hope to the distressed, disturbed and hopeless,” James said.

North Caribbean Conference leaders said that the church’s response on Sint Maarten is only a first of a comprehensive ministry of compassion, which is planned to be launched across the islands when restrictions are eased.  Part of those initiatives include psychological support that will address psychosocial needs and health needs of the membership as well as provide support to congregations who plan to take are of the physical needs of members and community friends.

Sint Maarten is one of three Dutch islands and is home to more than 3,000 Seventh-day Adventists who are part of nine congregations. The church operates a primary school on the island.

 

 

This article was originally published on the Inter-America Division’s website 

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