The only thing more beautiful than the landscape of Puerto Rico is the people of Puerto Rico. Their unique culture is a rich blend of native Indian, African, Spanish, and French influences. As a commonwealth of the United States, they are US citizens, and at the same time, they enjoy their own identity.
It was a joy to be able to visit many churches and missions on the island during my short trip.
Pastor Alfredo “Freddy” Didier was my gracious host for the weekend. Previously, he suffered a terrible accident in which he injured his left arm severely. He was in terrible pain all weekend. But pastor Freddy did not let the pain of his injury slow him down.
Freddy is a disciple-maker and a church planter. As soon as he picked me up from the airport, he introduced me to his friend Carlos. Pastor Freddy is discipling Carlos. They spend great amounts of time together –not just within the walls of the church, but in everyday life. That is what discipleship is all about!
On Friday night, Pastor Freddy, Carlos, and I drove to Guayama for an English-speaking worship service in their new mission on the South side of the island. The name of the mission is “Bountiful Blessings.” The experience there lived up to the name. Worshippers from several different nations gathered in a living room for the service. During the service, Pastor Freddy announced to the mission that he had found a larger meeting place for them to gather. The people were ecstatic!
Bountiful Blessings Mission has a wonderful opportunity to reach the English speaking population of Guayama. Please pray for their congregation as they continue to reach out to their community.
The next day, Pastor Freddy and I attended the annual meting of the Baptist Missionary Association of Puerto Rico. There, we met with pastors from Coamo, Cabo Rojo, Mayaguez, Salinas, and Cayey. It became obvious that these pastors are a tight-knit group who depend upon one another for support and encouragement. They love each other and take care of one another. In fact, the association voted to help Pastor Freddy with his medical expenses for his arm injury. That is what being a part of the BMA is all about –we are better together!
After the meeting, I traveled with Pastor Juan Rivera to the church in Salinas. We gathered in their facility that afternoon to watch the youth of the church practice a black light drama. They did a wonderful job. Seeing the youth spend a Saturday at church was a testimony to the impact Pastor Juan and his ministry team are making in Salinas.
One of the challenges the church in Salinas faces is their location. They are outgrowing their downtown rented space. Further, they are located in the middle of a busy street with sports bars all around. Parking is a struggle and security is a great concern. When the youth want to gather on Friday or Saturday evenings, they cannot meet at the church because the area becomes dangerous with drunken partygoers filling the street.
Please pray for Pastor Juan and the church in Salinas as they look for wisdom in relocating to a different area of the town.
On Sunday morning, I was blessed to worship with Pastor Freddy’s church in Cayey as they marked their ten-year anniversary. The congregation celebrated as they recounted the history of their church. Their music was amazing. I loved singing along with them in my broken Spanish (thankfully they had the words projected on a screen).
It was an honor to preach to the people in Cayey. They are very engaged in the word, which makes preaching a pleasure. What a testimony to Pastor Freddy’s faithful ministry which has developed their desire for hearing the Word proclaimed!
After the service, the church enjoyed a special fellowship meal together. I had a great time visiting with the people and hearing how the church has ministered to each of them.
One of the greatest takeaways from the weekend was the reminder that God uses faithful men to make a kingdom impact. Everywhere I visited the people asked about Pastor David Dickson. Pastor David was the first BMA missionary to Puerto Rico. His church planting work has now spread all over the island through the men whom he trained to be pastor. All of the people I visited with expressed their love for Pastor David and recounted his love for them.
May God continue to bless the work of the churches of Puerto Rico!