What began as a vision trip by Greg Brinson, senior pastor at London Bridge Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia ended up as a five-year mission partnership in Puerto Rico. The Lord put the idea of a mission partnership in Puerto Rico on Brinson’s heart as he heard of the SBC of Virginia’s work there in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The category 5 storm hit Puerto Rico in September 2017 and devastated the island, causing $91.6 billion of damage. The storm claimed the lives of 2,975 Puerto Ricans. Initially, the SBC of Virginia focused on sending disaster relief teams. However, as time went on and the need for disaster relief teams diminished, a need to strengthen churches in Puerto Rico that were doing the work of spreading the Gospel became the focus.
“Pastor Greg and I visited with Pastor Jorge Santiago of One Church, and we both knew that the Lord wanted us to partner with them,” says Matt Shumaker, missions pastor at London Bridge. “We came back to the church and announced that we would be going. Immediately, the 20 slots allotted for the trip filled up.”
The church sent their first team of 20 the week before Easter. The team focused on two areas: One was some construction for a damaged home; the other was a couple of outreach events. They also held a bike rally with a block party. 75 kids participated. A party was thrown after the rally, where the Gospel was presented and 20 people accepted Christ as Savior. Then the church held a “Fiesta” at the church with inflatables for the children and food. Once again, the Gospel was presented and six more gave their hearts to Christ.
London Bridge has committed to sending two mission teams per year to partner with Pastor Jorge Santiago and One Church. The next team is slated to go in October 2019.
Do You Want to Be a Part of a New Work?
SBC of Virginia churches have made a huge investment and an even bigger impact on the island of Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. The widespread devastation necessitated an unprecedented response, and SBC of Virginia churches have been up to the challenge. From Disaster Relief teams to mid-term and long-term volunteers, to partnering with pastors and church planters, SBCV churches are making a difference and proving that the people of Puerto Rico are not alone.
Still Making an Impact
How will your church engage and eternally invest in the lives of Puerto Ricans? SBC of Virginia is providing two basic pathways to partnering in Puerto Rico.
- SEND Relief. NAMB’s Send Relief efforts continue on the island, rebuilding homes and lives. Register through sbcv.org/puertorico. Dates and trips are available for groups of all sizes, or for individual volunteers.
2. Partner with a Church Planter. London Bridge Baptist Church is one SBCV church that has established a partnership in Puerto Rico. Pastor Jorge Santiago in Comerio has seen great fruit from ongoing partnerships. Contact Brad Russell (firstname.lastname@example.org) to join in an existing partnership.
DO YOU WANT TO BE A PART OF A NEW WORK? Join SBCV on a four-day Pastors’ Vision Trip in Puerto Rico this Fall (dates TBD) as we tour the island and see the great work the Lord is doing and how our SBCV churches can join in.
According to NAMB’s SEND Puerto Rico, currently, there are 56 Southern Baptist churches on the island, engaging a population of more than 3.4 million people.