Prior to Hurricane Irma, I had been experiencing a sense of helplessness and hopelessness about what the Virgin Islands had become. That feeling was reinforced when I listened to a farewell address to the Methodist community by Reverend Helen Maurose and her husband Reverend Jonte Maurose. She encouraged us to open our eyes and see before it is too late that success and prosperity had been turned upside down in these Virgin Islands. He exhorted us to return to righteousness.

I was convinced that their warning was prophetic and that I had an obligation to repeat it after they were gone. When I repeated it, I got the impression that nobody was willing to acknowledge the relevance of the message, and I concluded that only God himself could help us.

Despite my sense of foreboding, I was still taken by surprise when Hurricane Irma roared into the VI. I was expecting God to intervene in these islands, but not in that way. Not even in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that such force could exist in the universe, never mind in a quiet place touched by gentle breezes most of the time.

 

‘Giant sledgehammer’

At the height of the storm, the wind was a giant sledgehammer breaking wooden doors and shattering glass everywhere in order to gain entry and deposit torrents of water in every nook and cranny. Chipping pieces of concrete from around the rafters in its determination to pry the roof out of the wall, it was relentless and deliberate in its intention to destroy.

The time came when it seemed that the fury of the storm was the voice of God and only He could save us from destruction. I threw myself on His mercy: “Lord, if you spare our lives, we will do better.”

In the eye of the storm God led me with my daughter, in the strangest way, to a safe place that was protected from the full force of the winds that started coming from the opposite direction. The next morning, I emerged to find a different world and to ponder how, in the midst of such devastation, we were yet alive. Surely, God had spoken. Our lives had been spared, but our idols were broken into pieces, and the “other gods” we had served were prostrate at the feet of the God of the storm and the God of the calm.

 

‘We will do better’

I returned to my home, deeply conscious of the commitment I had made at the height of the storm. I made a commitment that we will do better. Not just “I” but “we.” That gives me an obligation to work for change in the territory.

Silence is no longer an option for me. It is all too easy to see the problems that exist in the territory and pass by on the other side. But the person who observes wrong and does nothing about it is just as guilty as the perpetrators of those wrongs.

Not so long ago our lives were governed by godly principles, and if we seek to return to righteousness as Reverend Jonte admonished us to do, surely God will hear and lead us to restoration. The destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma has given us an opportunity to start over.


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