Puerto Rican family with seriously ill son depends on God

Axel Dieppa and Desiree Roman have seen God at work in the midst of uncertainty since their son, Sebastian, was born nine months ago with a congestive heart defect and their home in Puerto Rico was damaged two months ago by a hurricane. (Photo / Isa Torres)

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SAN ANTONIO—Axel Dieppa and Desiree Roman have seen God at work in the midst of uncertainty since their son, Sebastian, was born nine months ago with pulmonary atresia—a congestive heart defect.

“At the time, the only thing sustaining his life were machines,” Roman said.

Sebastian’s life was put at risk Sept. 20 when Hurricane Maria hit the family’s home in Puerto Rico, damaging it and leaving it without electricity.

For an extended time, Dieppa ventured out every day at 4 a.m. to seek fuel for a generator to power the machines on which his son’s life depended. The family knew they needed to find another solution.

Relocated to San Antonio

Three weeks ago, Puerto Rico Airlift flew the family to the continental United States. Now they are in San Antonio, where their son is hospitalized and a team of doctors is working on his case.

“There is still so much to do for Sebastian,” said Dieppa, the son of Roberto Dieppa, executive director of Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico, a regional partner of American Baptist Churches USA. “We do not know what will come. … We are truly waiting on God to supply our needs.”

Well-meaning but ineffective aid has added to the family’s hardship, as people have learned about their situation and arrived with assistance that is not needed or that cannot be used.

Currently, the family is staying in a studio apartment, and they received a significant amount of clothes and baby supplies. Although they likely will use those items at some point, they do not have space to store them in the small apartment. For a week, they had to stash them in a car someone rented for them.

For now, their greatest needs are financial. Dieppa cares for the couple’s two oldest children, while Roman tends to Sebastian at the hospital.

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‘God … has brought us here’

Their family in Puerto Rico continues to experience a lack of resources and communication. So, while the couple experiences stress in many ways, they can still see how God has cared for them.

“It is God who has brought us here,” Dieppa said. “We know that it is God who gives us our help.”

The family’s funds are limited, and they soon will have to find a new place to live. They also remain dependent on others for temporary transportation.

Jesse Rincones, executive director of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, facilitated a car for Dieppa’s family, and has also put them in touch with the San Antonio Baptist Association. First Baptist Church in San Antonio committed to helping the family in the future when more details on housing and transportation become available, Rincones noted.

Dieppa has experience in ministry, and he hopes eventually to pursue a Master of Divinity degree and find a place of service on the continental United States.

For now, Sebastian’s health issues remain the family’s priority, so other plans remain on hold. But the couple noted their experience so far has demonstrated God’s faithfulness and ability to provide for them—through big problems and smaller issues.

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