They are ready to share the gospel wherever they go.
Migrant workers are on the move, going from state to state looking for work and often eventually returning to their home countries, Misael Castillo, Florida Baptists’ migrant ministries catalyst, explained.
Life for migrant workers is often not easy.
“We must lend an ear to the needs of the migrants,” Castillo said.
We must remember that migrants take the gospel wherever they go.
As migrants work hard to put food on tables throughout the country, Florida Baptists are working hard to provide migrants with spiritual food.
Through the years Florida Baptists have ministered and witnessed to migrant workers, finding opportunities to share the message of salvation through mobile dental units, food pantries and English classes. Many migrants have become Christians and have grown in their newfound faith through discipleship programs at Florida Baptist churches.
Now, through an innovative chaplaincy program, these mobile field workers are equipped to be Christian witnesses “in season and out of season,” as 2 Timothy 4:2 teaches.
Requirements for members of the migrant community to receive chaplaincy training include having professed Jesus as Lord and Savior, being a baptized member of a Florida Baptist church, and being recommended by a pastor of a migrant church.
“For the first-timer, there is a 20-hour certification program,” said Pastor Angel Bermudez of Iglesia Bautista Dios es Bueno in Daytona Beach. At the end of the course, students receive a “shield that allows them to assist chaplains in places such as jails, airports, hotels and law enforcement,” said Bermudez, who also serves as one of the chaplaincy instructors in the migrant community. These chaplain assistants help in road emergencies and civil rights cases and even share the gospel on cruise ships with the workers who cannot leave the ships when in port. In Disaster Relief, trained migrant workers help chaplains with “the gift of compassion.”
Currently Bermudez is training 12 migrant workers, and he said that other pastors throughout Florida are also providing chaplaincy training to migrant workers, including Pastor Oscar Rojas of Iglesia Bautista Lake Saunders in Mt. Dora and Pastor Robert Mireles of Iglesia Bautista La Gracias in Eustis as well as others in Leesburg, Daytona Beach and Ft. Myers.
So far, 450 migrant workers have graduated from the chaplaincy program, Castillo said.
One migrant worker, Genaro Hernandez, graduated with the first group trained in chaplaincy. After returning to his home country, Hernandez sent Castillo a letter, thanking him for the training.
“It is the only training that gave me the foundation to start a ministry in Veracruz, Mexico,” Hernandez wrote.
“We must remember that migrants take the gospel wherever they go,” Castillo said.