CORPUS CHRISTI—Puerto Rico is an island of 3.3 million people that has been ravaged by poverty and the nearly annual recurrence of tropical storms and hurricanes that leave death and destruction in their wake.
Even so, faithful Southern Baptist pastors in the territory continue to take the hope of the gospel on a daily basis to those who need it most.
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board voted unanimously to enter into a multiyear ministry partnership with the Puerto Rico Southern Baptist Convention (PRSBC) in an effort to support their pastors and churches. The ministry partnership will provide financial resources ($25,000 to be disbursed each year for three years with an option for another $25,000 to be given during the fourth year, and an additional $25,000 to help fund a pastors conference/retreat), as well as access to other resources aimed at strengthening existing churches, planting new ones, and raising up a new generation of pastors and leaders to reach the lost.
“Puerto Rico is a small convention … but the need is phenomenal,” SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick said to the board. “God is doing a very unique thing in Puerto Rico.”
In a September letter to the SBTC, PRSBC Executive Director Luis R. Soto said the ministry partnership with the SBTC will help his convention and its 52 affiliated churches “better equip pastors and churches on the island for the work of evangelism, discipleship, developing leaders, and pastoral care while revitalizing and planting churches.”
Said Soto: “We are extremely grateful for the interest the SBTC has shown to associate with our [convention].”
Ninety percent of the PRSBC’s pastors are bivocational, and many are nearing retirement age without a pipeline to equip the next generation of pastors, Soto said. At the same time, the PRSBC has worked with the North American Mission Board’s Send Puerto Rico initiative to plant 22 new churches over the past three years.
The Puerto Rico ministry partnership is part of a larger effort to support the ministries of smaller Southern Baptist state conventions. In August, the SBTC announced it would enter into a similar relationship with the Nevada Baptist Convention for the purposes of strengthening churches, planting new ones, reaching the lost, and developing leaders in the nation’s fifth-fastest growing state.