JACKSONVILLE— As the population of Florida adds over 330,000 residents each year coming from nearly every nation in the world, God has given Florida Baptists an opportunity—and mandate–to share the gospel message with their new neighbors.
“It is clear God has blessed Florida Baptist churches by allowing them to serve in an ever-expanding mission field with endless opportunities,” said Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.
According to the American Immigration Council, more than one in five Florida residents is an immigrant, while one in eight residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.
The latest data also shows that each year the state hosts more than 500,000 immigrants, 150,000 migrants, and 14.5 million international travelers. Florida Baptist churches are committed to the nations within as they share the salvation of Jesus Christ with as many of these individuals as possible.
Florida Baptist churches are actively engaged with focused ministries in English as Second Language classes, citizen classes, tutoring, food health and clothing resources, legal resources, skill development, financial classes, and refugee asylum.
The convention is coming alongside local churches to equip them with resources and training to reach internationals and immigrants within their communities. And the resources are just a click away!
To help churches actively ministering to the immigrants, and those who have a desire to develop ministries, the convention has placed dozens of resources on its website.
The site offers churches the context, biblical mandate and available resources when determining how to begin immigrant and international ministries. Additional resources are designed to aid churches’ ministry to internationals in the areas of immigrants, migrants, international travelers, and human trafficking.
In the section highlighting immigrant ministries, materials offer information on teaching English as a Second Language and citizenship classes, tutoring, and providing food, health, and clothing assistance.
The migrant ministries section explores opportunities in theological education, conferences for legal and financial advice, and developing children and family events.
Ministry to international travelers is focused on seaport ministries, offering a history of Florida Baptist work in port ministries, as well as a list of locations and chaplains.
Last, human trafficking resources answer commonly asked questions, provides a directory of ministries to survivors, as well as mini-course, informational links, printable flyers, and organizations involved in fighting human trafficking.
Within each ministry area, dozens of resources have been compiled including information, how-to suggestions, PowerPoint presentations, videos, downloadable forms and references. Contacts of convention staff who can come right beside local churches with their specific ministries are also provided.
The compilation of the resources on the site began when the State Board of Missions—the convention’s governing body– authorized the study and development of a program of ministry support for churches engaged in ministry to immigrants and internationals.
Over the months, convention staff met on multiple occasions and engaged with church and ministry experts. It became evident an abundant amount of focus and highly effective ministry was taking place within churches across the state. The team decided then to shift from the development of a ministry approach to providing established practices and resources.
Beyond the resources made available through the website, convention staff will be working to develop and expand other training, conferencing, and networking opportunities to further encourage and equip ministry leaders in the development of immigrant and international ministry.
“Our Kingdom commitment and concern is to reach our neighbors for Christ,” said Green. “God continues to bring the nations to us, and we can impact the world through ministries that touch lives in Jesus’ name.”