Church planter Jeremiah Taylor moved his family into one of the poorest, highest crime areas of Miami, and even after their neighbor, a local drug dealer, was murdered in front of their house, remains fearless about their purpose there.
“That was our introduction to Little Haiti. And that very same night, his cousin was killed, and then a month later, his brother was killed. This is just part-and-parcel of living in our neighborhood,” Taylor said.
“Little Haiti is a foreign country with a U.S. ZIP code,” the Orlando native noted. “It’s rough here with violence, drug dealers and prostitution. We have seen a lot with our own eyes.”
Taylor and his wife, Lauren, planted Redemption Church Miami three years ago. The congregation meets in the Little Haiti Cultural Center where Taylor is a familiar face and has taken an active role in community and cultural affairs.
The couple has embraced their community in multiple ways, including the adoption of two neighborhood children after the death of their mother. “They were going to be put in foster care,” said Taylor. “We just couldn’t bear the thought of that.”
Immediately after adopting Jason, age 10, and Mya, age 8, the family discovered Lauren was pregnant with a daughter, whom they named Selah, “So we went from zero kids to three kids in a period of one year while we were church planting. But God’s been good.”
“The inner city is a hard place to live because there are many injustices. But the church cannot add to those injustices by not allowing there to be a healthy, gospel-centered church in the midst of these inner cities.”
Taylor knows Redemption Church fights a constant struggle between good and evil. “There are botanicas on almost every corner in Little Haiti where people can buy their idols and practice Voodoo or Santeria,” another false religion practiced by many Haitians.
“We’re up against a lot, and so we need prayer warriors. We also need faithful, consistent financial supporters to help us continue to press into this community.”
Recalling his own life at rock bottom, Taylor said, “Grace changes a lot. It changed me.”
Such is the message Redemption Church extends, “Here is a church that cares about this community.”
The church has seen six people come to know Christ. “Our mission is to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, raise them up as a church–that’s discipleship–and release them into the world so that they can go and repeat that process and make disciples.
Taylor is one of six church planters featured in Florida Baptists’ 2017 State Mission Offering emphasis, “Send South Florida,” which will allocate 100 percent of the proceeds toward needs in South Florida. These church planters are dedicated to reaching Florida’s highest populated and least churched region with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He recalls a verse that has had an “incredible influence” on his life. “Because we loved you, we were happy to share not only God’s Good News with you, but even our own lives. You had become so dear to us!” 1Thessalonians 2:8.
The Taylors’ commitment—just like many other South Florida church planting families—is for the long haul.
By Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention, August 15, 2017