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Although Southwest Florida Wesleyan churches are resilient and hopeful as Hurricane Ian clean-up efforts continue, our main focus and need is to get our four churches (and parsonages if they have them) whole again. That means substantial roof replacement and repair. None of the four churches had windstorm insurance coverage when Ian hit, and total costs as of today, between full replacement and repairs, are nearing $200,000. It is safe to say that our district needs major financial support.

Here is a quick update from Rev. Wes Wickard, lead pastor at our Fort Myers Villas Wesleyan Church: “Acts 2:1-2, ‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.’ God has often used wind to empower/motivate his people. The aftermath of Hurricane Ian has provided many opportunities for the church to reach into its community. The walls and barriers of apathy are often part of the structural damage in a storm.

“My context is Villas Wesleyan Church,” said Rev. Wickard. “Our congregation has sad realities of death and total structural loss mingled with powerful testimonies of rescue. Our physical church structure sustained extensive damage, as did the other buildings on the property. But among the damage, God provided hope and opportunities.

“We have always had a presence in our community but are even more visible following this storm. We used our gym several days as a distribution site for necessary supplies. While hundreds came through for water and food, we had the opportunity to listen to their heartbreaking stories of loss and offer hope in Christ through prayer and resources. We continued sharing The Wesleyan Church’s vision of transforming lives and our community through the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ.

“The conversations of loss, death and heartache continue, as do the opportunities to point people to Jesus,” Rev. Wickard added. “Hebrews 10:23 says, ‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.’

“Villas Church would like to thank you for your continued prayers, love and support through phone calls, cards, emails and texts, and those who physically showed up with chainsaws and tarps. I enjoy serving in Christ’s Church.”

We covet your prayers and thank you for your support!

WERF donations to date are not close to covering the needed repairs to our Florida churches. Please consider giving through Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund for recovery efforts that are still underway.

To volunteer or for more information, contact the Florida District office at 813-907-5511,

Derek Atkinson is the assistant district superintendent of the Florida District of The Wesleyan Church.

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