By Isa Ivette Velez Echevarria
George Snyman, the founder of Hands at work in Africa, visited various parts of the U.S. at the end of 2010. During this tour, George was able to spend five days in Puerto Rico, an island under American jurisdiction. Puerto Rico is a small island in terms of size, but there is much going on in this island. We have diverse natural resources here, surrounded by beautiful beaches. We love God and care for people in need around the world. I think this is one of the reasons God keeps blessing and showing His mercy to us. Many people from Puerto Rico are placed in different parts of the World working with different missions, including Africa. As such, George’s visit was such a blessing to us and set ablaze a desire in a lot of our hearts to visit and work with the people of Africa.
During his visit here, George learned a little bit about our traditions and our African heritage. His visit began from San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. He visited the Old San Juan and the Fort El Morro where he got to taste Puerto Rican food. Then he traveled to the south side of the island where he stayed at Diana’s (Hands volunteer) beautiful farm located in Ponce, where he experiences a typical Puerto Rican home life. He also preached at a youth service at the Iglesia Cristiana de la Familia (Family Christian Church) where he spoke of how our love for God directs us to love other people. George challenged the youth kids to use their time, talents and money for God’s work. Many of them were impacted by his simple yet essential and fundamental sermon. At the end, some of the people went to talk to him about their plans and dreams to visit Africa.
On Sunday George preached at the Family Christian Church, and his message focused on challenging Christians to carry out God’s great commission by helping the orphans, widows, the poorest and the disadvantage people. He told the story of how he was in the middle of a construction work and this boy was by his side staring at him, and he wondered what the boy needed because he had nothing to give him but a watch. He felt an urge to give the watch to the boy, but first he asked the boy about his life. The boy told him that he had no family and that he was alone. So George gave him the watch and told him that whenever he looks at the watch to remember that he loved him and was praying for him. A few years later George went back to the same village and he felt someone tapping him on his shoulder. When he turned around, he saw a young man. When asked who he was, the young man answered that a man once gave him a watch. This act of love changed this young man’s life. The congregation was deeply impacted by this testimony, including Pastor Angel Esteban. In response to the sermon, Pastor Angel gave his watch to George and told him to give it to another person just like he did with the young man. This action moved other people hearts and two more men gave their watches to George.
One of the most significant moments for me was when I was sitting with George and a few others interested in becoming volunteers with Hands. All of us were impacted by the lovely and passionate way that George talked about the Lord’s word, his testimonies and important subjects about his Christian views. It was inspiring and challenging for all us and our hearts were deeply touched that night. For many of us, George’s visit was indeed a tremendous blessing. It was challenging, encouraging, and inspiring. It stirred in our hearts a desire to keep working for the neediest people in the world. I can say with confidence that churches in Puerto Rico are going to be a part of God’s great work to care for those in dire need in Africa!