ACS Rebuilds in Guam

December 1, 2023
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Represent wherever you go!  Written by: W. Derrick Lea, Executive Director, North American Division ACS

It was 6 months ago I received a call from our Federal Government asking if our ACS Rebuild teams were available to help in an effort to get those affected by Typhoon Mawar back into their homes.  The Island of Guam had been affected by this event, which was the worst storm in 20 years, and they were struggling to recover.

So, how did we get this call? Well, five years ago our ACS Rebuild Teams out of Northeastern and Greater New York Conferences were asked to assist the island of Saipan in recovery efforts. Two of our ACS teams traveled there and were instrumental in helping many return safely to their homes after Typhoon Yutu had displaced them in 2017. The experience was like no other for our ACS volunteers as well as for the impacted citizens of Saipan. Unfortunately, the program that funded this effort came to an end. I remember feeling disappointed as I listened to the Federal authorities explain how pleased they were with our work, because I didn’t fully believe them when they explained our efforts would not be forgotten and they would pass on a positive recommendation to whatever administration was in charge, should similar work be needed again in the future.

So, I was a little surprised to get a call almost six years later asking if ACS was interested in working again for FEMA. I placed a few calls to our ACS leadership within Northeastern and Greater New York Conferences, and they immediately responded in the affirmative. And two short months later, we were off to Guam.

Because it had been so long, many of our people were new to this work, but they hit the ground running. The first team from the Northeastern Conference showed up and began assessing the situation on the ground. The team met with those working with FEMA and after a day of planning, ACS began repairing the homes of those affected. And it was evident to all that this team truly served as the hands and feet of Jesus! They began each day early with prayer and thoughtful thanks to God for His leading in the effort. And from the word go, the work was nonstop, despite a schedule that accommodated time off, due to the intense sun. Work continued on designated time off. Working not just to ensure the homes were safe to return to but were livable. The conversations overheard were edifying and consistent and peppered with laughter and love.

And the blessings didn’t stop with team one. The next team showed up a week later from the Greater New York Conference, and they went to work on other projects with a similar spirit.  They also demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond with the intent of helping our brothers and sisters in a time of crisis.

What an amazing group of people we have representing ACS, and more importantly representing Christ.  I recall being involved in a meeting with the leadership of FEMA on site in Guam. They were talking about the tremendous efforts our team was putting in and they wanted to know where do we get these people? I proudly explained that ACS was an organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and that most of our team members were Seventh Day Adventists. I further explained that we serve because Christ has blessed us to be able to serve others.

With that answer the gentlemen sat back and stated, we need more people like this in the world.  As I thought about his response I realized as Christians, that we really do have an opportunity each day to represent Christ to others, and regardless of where we are and no matter the work we’re involved in, it’s our responsibility to ensure we glorify Christ so others will want to know the One we serve.