Six pastors from the west region of Florida had the opportunity to see the diversity and complexity of doing ministry in South Florida this May 20-22 through the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Catch the Vision Tour.
During their time in South Florida the pastors met with church planters, visited communities in need like Downtown Miami and heard first-hand what it is like to minister to the lost in the southern part of the Sunshine state.
South Florida is home to approximately seven million people in just the tri-county areas of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade. About 96 percent are lost or unchurched with West Palm Beach being the number one must never-churched city in American according to Barna Research.
Lewis Miller, west regional catalyst of the Florida Baptist Convention (FBC), said the pastors who came down to South Florida are passionate about missions, “and it was just about getting them here.” He was encouraged by the spirit of cooperation among church planters and pastors in South Florida saying that in some places there is an “unfortunate amount of competition but we all share one Lord, one faith and one church.”The group included Jim Locke, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola; Nathan Brown, pastor of Ray’s Chapel in McDavid; Joshua Dickens and Felix Davila, interns at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola; Zack Johnson, pastor of Ferris Hill Baptist Church in Milton; Bill Stephens, associate pastor at Eastside Baptist Church in Marianna and Hugh Redmon, pastor of First Baptist Panama City Hispanic Church.
The pastors met with Matt Diaz, pastor of Kendall Baptist Church; Alex Comesanas, connections pastor at Providence Road; Corey Sanders, pastor of The Movement Church; Daryl Jones, pastor of Rock Fellowship Church; Guillermo Hernandez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista de Kendall; Jonathan Palaci and Jose Prado, pastors of Christ Family Church; Martin Vargas, pastor of Iglesia Real; Winston Williams, pastor of Iglesia Biblica Vida Real and Abiel Mir, pastor of Harvest Miami.Brown said he was encouraged by the church planters working in a city where there is a “vastness of lostness.” “I came down thinking of how I could help and I’m leaving having learned things I want to go back home to try at our church.”
“An existing church can always use a spark of encouragement from a new church,” said James Peoples, NAMB Send City missionary.
Davila, will be coming back to Miami in two weeks to do ministry alongside pastors Palaci and Prado. “I’ll be here for two months and the biggest thing will be to meets needs and engage the culture.” Davila says that as a second-generation Hispanic he seeks to connect with that group, be their friend and get them connected to the local church.