MBC, Puerto Rican partnership blossoms
By Allen Palmeri
October 26, 2004
CALIFORNIA – Three friends having coffee, taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity to enjoy a beautiful fall day together in California, symbolize the partnership between Missouri Baptists and Puerto Rican Baptists.
Greg Morrow, pastor, First Baptist Church, California, hosted Eduardo Soto Padin, pastor, Evangelical Baptist Church of the Word, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and Damaso Cruz, Padin’s associate pastor, Oct. 6. The Puerto Ricans came mainly to visit with Nodell Dennis, director of missions, Blue River/Kansas City Baptist Association, who is coordinating many of the details of the partnership for the Missouri Baptist Convention, and Dennis saw the opportunity to get them over to California.
“So many Christians have become our friends out of the partnership, to have met a group of people who have really cared for God’s Word,” Padin said. “This has enriched our lives.”
Morrow has been down to the Fajardo church, about 40 miles east of San Juan, twice. He estimated that 90-100 members of his church have been on mission to Puerto Rico in the last two years.
“Relationships have been the best thing about this,” Morrow said. “It feels like we’re doing missions just like the book of Acts.”
One of the major projects of the partnership is building a campground facility on 45 acres that can sleep 200. Al Groner, director of missions, Bethel Baptist Association, has been leading that effort. Those interested in helping to complete the project can call him at (573) 221-0182.
“This will eventually provide a place where Puerto Ricans can come from all over the island and do their retreats, conferences and seminars,” Dennis said.
Two teams of Missouri Baptists are headed to the island in November. In the spring, around Easter, Dennis and MBC Partnership Missions Specialist Norm Howell plan on leading a team of around 10 evangelists to close out a crusade.
The Puerto Rican partnership also will be on display during the annual meeting of the MBC Oct. 25-27 at First Baptist Church, Raytown. Miguel Soto, director of missions, Puerto Rico, will speak at the convention as well as during the Director of Missions Fellowship Oct. 26 at Southview Baptist Church, Raytown.
Groner is one of several Missouri Baptists who are benefiting from the partnership. The expertise that churches in Bethel Baptist Association bring to Puerto Rico is knowledge of how to run Camp Inlow, near Philadelphia, a camp on 28 acres that has been in existence since 1954. They are trying to build something similar in Puerto Rico near the city of Agua Dilla, on the west end of the island.
“It’s broadened my opportunity to be involved in ministry all over the world,” Groner said. “As an association, it’s helped us to be able to extend our camp ministry.”
Puerto Rico has about 70 Baptist churches to service a population of more than 4 million.