IMMOKALEE—Located about 30 miles east of Naples, Immokalee is home to over ten demographic and language groups. As diverse as the town itself are their local churches.
“We are not limited to native community members,” said pastor Josh LeadingFox. “We are a very diverse church with a heart for all people.”
LeadingFox has faithfully served at First Seminole since July 2011, arriving on scene just one year after the church was established in 2010. When LeadingFox and his family arrived, the church faced many challenges and growing pains that come along with a new church plant.
However, through those challenges, LeadingFox attributes the growth and stability to the power of God and focusing on building relationships. Through these intentional relationships, Immokalee First Seminole baptized over 40 people in 2011, according to the pastor.
“God was already at work…He used relationships to grow His church,” said LeadingFox.
Immokalee, meaning “my home” in the Seminole language, is what First Seminole has capitalized on–being a church that displays love to a hurting community and hospitality while fostering relationships within their fellowship.
“Since the very beginning we have come together side by side, sharing the goodness of God the best we can in a “hard to reach” part of the community,” said LeadingFox.
The Great Commission remains at the forefront of everything First Seminole does within their community. Encouraging members to make disciples and building intentional relationships are the foundations that the church builds upon.
“We encourage and pray for our members to make disciples in their everyday environments – work, school and home,” said LeadingFox.
Although their community of Immokalee and the Native population are their mission field, Immokalee First Seminole is all about praying, sending, giving and going to all people.
“Our heart is to reach every tongue and nation with the gospel,” said LeadingFox.
Serving on the Executive Board for the National Fellowship of Native American Christians allows for LeadingFox and First Seminole to minister and reach the native people and indigenous communities across southwest Florida and beyond.
“There are 567 tribes across the United States,” said LeadingFox. Yet, less than five percent of the Native population has received salvation…It’s a God-sized task, so we remain faithful.”
Building relationships and hosting events for Native communities have allowed Immokalee First Seminole to show the love of Christ to a people group that is very hesitant to the gospel message. Through hosting various men and women’s ministry gatherings, prayer walks, powwow’s and children’s Bible clubs, Immokalee First Seminole has been able to break down barriers and reach a people group that so desperately needs to hear the gospel.
With these “outside of the box” gatherings, the congregation has been able to reach those in southwest Florida, Oklahoma and Hawaii.
“God has blessed and challenged us to be a connection point for Native work across the United States,” said LeadingFox.
God has strategically placed Immokalee First Seminole Baptist Church in a position to reach the nations for Christ right in their backyard. With this gospel mission and impact, LeadingFox is enthusiastic about the days ahead.
“We are excited to continue to let God lead us and open doors for ministry opportunities.”