It is one thing to accept the sovereignty of God as an abstract intellectual concept. It is something entirely different to embrace this reality when you are in the midst of a storm. On September 18, our team on the lush and mountainous island of Dominica might have been tempted to wonder if God had forgotten them entirely when the lights went out during Hurricane Maria.
Only a few short weeks earlier, Hurricane Jose had passed just to the north of Dominica. While it missed them, it devastated the tiny island of Barbuda. Then, unfortunately, to everyone’s surprise and horror, what was supposed to be a tropical storm became Hurricane Maria in less than twenty-four hours. It passed right over Dominica. Hurricane Maria had turned Dominica’s 365 life- and joy-giving rivers into sources of death and devastation as everything washed away. While the world learned the terrible tragedy the storm unfolded in Puerto Rico, no one heard from Dominica. All we could do was wonder who had survived.
The Dominica CLC bookshop had been established in 1948 and has struggled in recent years. David Almack (CLC USA) had just visited the team in January and was excited to work with them in rebuilding the ministry. Waiting to hear from Davis, Dominica’s team leader, was a faithstretching experience for David. He explains:
With all power, internet and phone service knocked out, we had no idea how to get in touch with Davis or how long it would take for him to get in touch with us. What little news we did hear was not encouraging. Most of the homes on the island had been damaged. The airport was closed. Boats were being sent from other islands to rescue people and bring much-needed supplies. It was over a week later that we finally got the wonderful news that Davis and his family were safe and so was our other team member, Tajya. While they were safe, the news about the store and their homes was not so good.
The country’s electrical grid was badly damaged, and the internet was not coming back online anytime soon. Along with many people losing their homes and all their belongings, a ‘river’ had
literally run through the CLC shop. This recovery would take a long time, and the suffering of an already-impoverished people would be acute. God, however, had not forgotten the people of Dominica or our local team. Even as the storm hit, He was making a way where there was no way.
People and governments all over the Caribbean and even in the United States began to respond to the impassioned pleas of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. Help began to arrive. The CLC Trinidad team arranged for two barrels of much-needed food and supplies to be sent right away. People around the island opened up their homes to one another and made shelter available for as many they could. Clean-up began. The resilience of the people of Dominica was remarkable. They had been knocked down but not out.
Two months later on November 15, CLC Dominica reopened. Although it is not a big space, it is sacred ground! Over the years, miracles have taken place as people’s lives have been touched by the power of the Gospel revealed in the printed page. Even though Davis still did not have electricity, internet service or much undamaged stock, he cleaned the shop as best and fast as possible so he could reopen.
David Almack shares:
Amazingly, he (Davis) was able to use his mobile phone for texting, and we began to work together to get Christian resources to this devastated place. We knew that when people go through a crisis like this, they often turn to God and have many unanswered questions. With little else Davis could do at home, this was also a perfect time to do more reading than normal. As shopkeepers, (and as Christians!) at times our role is simply to help answer some of people’s difficult questions. The Bible and other great Christian books make this easier. With a generous donation from our partners at Lifeway Global Resources, we (CLC USA) were able to send a large shipment of Bibles. and many other resources will follow. Surviving a storm like this “puts flesh on our theology” as we understand that we serve a God who really is there no matter what we face.
CLC World Magazine