Church Partnerships help Puerto Rican Evacuees

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Florida Baptist churches in Southeast Florida will partner with Central Florida churches to respond to the needs of Puerto Rican evacuees.

In April, various Hispanic Baptist churches from Southeast Florida will travel to Orlando to partner with other local Hispanic churches that have begun responding to the influx of Puerto Ricans displaced to Central Florida due to hurricane Maria. Click here for more on that story.

Emanuel Roque, Hispanic church catalyst, has worked to create the missions partnerships and is excited about creating opportunities for churches to work together.

This event is a piece of a much larger effort to reach Puerto Rican evacuees with the Gospel, he said and the outcome they are hoping for is to connect evacuees with local churches for the long-term.

Iglesia Bautista Northside, located in Hialeah, is one of the churches that will be sending missionaries to central Florida to help.

“Queremos suplir necesidades fisicas y espirituales,” said Alberto Ocaña, Northside’s pastor, which translates to “We want to meet physical as well as spiritual needs.”

Ocaña, who is Cuban, says that in Hialeah, he and his church often help Cubans and other immigrants procure items they need to start their new lives – things as simple as bed frames or mattresses and so on.

In meeting those material needs, he said, there is also an opportunity to talk to them about Jesus.

That is what he hopes his church and all others going will be able to do.

The mission teams will be in the Orlando area from Thursday, April 18 to Sunday, April 22.

During that time they will go to the processing center at Orlando International Airport to meet Puerto Ricans and find ways to best help them. They will also visit hotels where some of the evacuees are staying, visit communities where local churches are already working and put out door hangers as part of Saturate Orlando—a Greater Orlando Baptist Association evangelistic initiative.

On Saturday, said Roque, the group is planning an event to officially welcome the evacuees to Florida.

“This was a great idea proposed by Jeffery Singletary,” said Roque.

Singletary, Central Florida regional catalyst, said churches need to act as the welcoming committee to this group of people who have lost everything.

This mission opportunity is still being developed and churches that wish to join can contact Roque at 786-208-5501 or by email at

By Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Convention, February 14, 2018

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