CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA – Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mariana Cruz regarding her recent trip to Florida with the Pennsylvania South Jersey Disaster Relief team.  

Mariana served with the team in Cape Coral Florida; they were stationed at the New Hope Fellowship Baptist Church in Florida.  Special thanks to Kenton Hunt and Tom Miller and all others who work tirelessly put Disaster Relief training and outreach efforts together.  Mariana reported that she appreciates them and their willingness to lead others in their service to Jesus Christ. 

Mariana was trained in 2009 to do Disaster Relief but reported that she didn’t have the opportunity to serve until now.  Mariana remembers vividly seeing the images and news reports from the Hurricanes on the news late one night after returning home from work.  In response, Mariana fell to her knees and began praying.  She got on her knees told the Lord that she wanted to help with the relief efforts in other ways instead of just supporting financially. Mariana reported that the very next day she posted a picture on Facebook of the devastation in Florida.  She expressed her desire to go and help with the relief efforts and stated that she was praying for an opportunity to do so.   Someone responded with information about volunteers.  Mariana began the application process and prayerfully followed through until completion.  She reports, “The Lord led and guided me to Florida…and while there she saw God’s hand at work.”   



Mariana reported, “When I got to Florida I thought to myself, will heaven look like this?”    She witnessed everyone looking out for one another, praying with each other and helping others both believers and unbelievers.  She was deeply moved by the display of love demonstrated as well as the incredible Gospel witness.

When Mariana arrived in Florida with the team to help, Mrs. Miller told her that she would be drawn to this work because that is the way that the Lord works.  Mariana reported that those words ring true!  Following, her first deployment with the disaster relief team Mariana feels incredibly drawn and is looking forward to her next opportunity to serve.

Mariana shared that while serving with the Disaster Relief team, there is this overwhelming desire to tell everyone about Jesus and countless opportunity to do so.  She reported this reality filled her heart with  “unimaginable joy” and fuels her desire to bring more and more lost souls to Christ. 

Mariana marveled at how the disaster relief efforts used extending love, help, compassion and service to bring people to the Lord.    Mariana reported, “I lost count of how many people were saved, there were so many.  And it all happened just because the saw us come, just because we served a meal, offered our service. They were so grateful for us to be there in the name of Jesus.”  Mariana reported, “it was a wonderful experience to let the world know that we care enough to do whatever it takes to bring help, hope and healing.” 

When asked about her experience, Mariana described it as being “out of this world!”   She reports that no matter the sleeping conditions, the necessities, they were able to do whatever it takes to bring help and healing and hope to those in need.  Mariana stated, “We want to let the world know that we care enough and do whatever it takes no matter the conditions to bring hope.  Because its not about us—its about Jesus who died on the Cross for us and shed His blood for our sins.”  As believers we have that experience and we want everyone to know! 

“If I could go to every corner of the world [and share the Gospel] I would do so no matter what.” – Mariana Cruz

There’s a deep held conviction that fuels the disaster relief team.  They aim to follow Christ’s example and bring help, healing and hope to others and bring the Good News. 

Mariana is preparing to leave for her second deployment on Monday, October 9th.  Mariana will be heading to Puerto Rico, her homeland, to assist with the relief efforts there.  Mariana is excited about going home to help her people.  She is eager to take the same healing and love to Puerto Rico that the team shared in Florida.  Mariana will be in Puerto Rico for two 15 – day terms.  There are about 4 or 5 groups on rotation traveling to Puerto Rico to serve 15 day terms. 

Many individuals are asking, “How can I volunteer?”  or “How can I help?”  While picking up and traveling to Puerto Rico may not be a feasible option for many of us—there are ways that you can help support the relief efforts in a very real and tangible which will make an impact for the Kingdom of God.  Donate to the SBDR!!  With these donations you’ll have the assurance that your donations will be used to help serve the needs of those suffering as well as helping spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in the process. 

For more information on how to get involved with the relief efforts  CLICK HERE