LABELLE—Known as the “city under the oaks,” the charming, quaint town of LaBelle has a new pastor who is dedicated to bringing new life and a new mission to Caloosa Baptist Church. When James Hunt and his family arrived in southwest Florida in January, 2018, the church had gone nearly three years without a pastor.
“God used that time without a pastor as a season of winnowing, breaking and preparing the people for renewal,” said Hunt. “Caloosa is a very active place with people hungry to see the movement of God.”
Since that time, Hunt has been on a mission to establish a “well rounded ministry that is faithful to engage in what God has revealed in His Word as the things He desires for his church to be and do: worship, to be unified and to engage in mission, mercy and ministry,” he said.
Hunt has cultivated an atmosphere of worship and ministry at Caloosa church by holding fast to the Word and dedicating time to corporate prayer. By utilizing men within their church to highlight a missionary or ministry, Hunt has allowed the power of God to be displayed weekly.
“God has stirred up a revival of expectation in the church,” Hunt said. “As the people have seen evidence of God moving among us, they have increasingly come to expect God to change lives.”
As a result, the church is growing both numerically and spiritually through professions of faiths and baptisms.
The pastor, along with the members of Caloosa, is convinced that God is blessing and “renewing” the church because of faithfulness in preaching the Word, sharing the gospel and focusing on prayer, he said.
“The Lord is not so much interested in visionary leadership and innovation as He is in faithfulness to proclaiming, ‘Thus says the Lord!’” said Hunt. “In other words, He desires faithful proclamation of His Word–teaching to transform, not simply inform.”
They launched a campaign to help eliminate medical debt in Hendry County, are involved in a local prison ministry and host an annual back to school supplies drive. They have also created what they call Project 12/25 – a ministry to connect church members with local needy families at Christmas.
Yet, perhaps the one that is closest to their hearts is orphan care and fostering. Hunt and his wife, who adopted their four children out of the foster care system, believe that the home and family should be a “front-line mission field” and that the local church and Christian families should be the first ones to answer the call to help.
“We have become increasingly a church that is reaching out and ministering to hurting children and families,” said Hunt. “Christian families bringing in these children to their own homes brings the mission field ‘home’–to right where they live.”
Caloosa is determined to respond to a community that so desperately needs the love of God and support of local churches.
They are actively “impacting missions and ministries locally and globally through giving to the Cooperative Program and to their local association,” said Hunt. They have also established an Ingathering Missions Offering that goes to church mission initiatives, missionaries, and other local and state mission projects.
To those who call LaBelle home, there is no doubt that Caloosa Baptist Church is reaching their community with the love of Jesus and they have no plans of slowing down anytime soon.