Florida Baptists join forces to restore Bluewater Bible College

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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS— After being forced to close its doors following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, both in 2017, Bluewater Bible College in the U.S. Virgin Islands is poised for a significant revival. Florida Baptist pastors and their church members have joined efforts to restore the college, once the cornerstone of theological training in the Caribbean, and meet the urgent need for pastors and Bible teachers in the region.

Tim Burdick, associational mission strategist for Lake County Baptist Association, was inspired by the concept of pastors’ vision tours he heard about in a podcast. He approached Jeffery Singletary, Central regional catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, and asked him to explore the possibility of organizing such tours.

Singletary, who has come to be known for his passion for the Caribbean churches, saw the potential and agreed to help.

“Since the college closed, we started to hear from the pastors there,” said Singletary. “They have churches that do not have pastors; they do not have young men or women getting theological training. They have nobody to replace current pastors; we’ve got pastor-less churches.”

Central Florida Baptist pastors volunteer their time and skills to repair Bluewater Bible College grounds.

The shortage of theological training in the region makes the need to re-open the college urgent.

The stage was set for Florida Baptist pastors and their congregations to come alongside their Baptist brothers and sisters in the U.S. Virgin Islands to restore the institution responsible for training local pastors and Bible teachers.

It was not long before the first vision tours evolved into hands-on mission trips as pastors and church teams rolled up their sleeves to lay tile in the college’s cafeteria, paint walls and preach in local churches among other things. These efforts were met with not only gratitude but also renewed hope from the college’s administration as well as the local community.

Pastors like Bird Sanders, Ferndale Baptist Church in Clermont, and Juan Negron, MP3 Church in Clermont, have been enthusiastic advocates for the college by taking their church members on mission trips and spreading the word about the need for volunteers.

“Wherever I go, I talk about it; this is an opportunity to be part of something that is not on everyone’s radar,” said Sanders. “Until the Lord comes, we need to be about His business and train men. It’s one thing to go once and win somebody to Jesus, that’s fantastic. But what if we can train a local man who can win a hundred or a thousand because he lives there already?”

Andrew and Sheryl George are currently leading the theological institution, with Andrew serving as the school’s president.  Sheryl expressed optimism about the college’s future and hopes that by August the college will be open for classes.

“If we are ready to go in August, and we could start offering one or two courses, that would give the school life; people would know that we’re serious about what we’re doing,” she said.

For those interested in joining the mission to restore Bluewater Bible College, visit https://www.lakebaptist.org/bluewater-bible for ways to help.

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