Puerto Rico is an archipelago among the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. East of Cuba, the region is over 2,000 miles away from the United States and includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller ones, such as Mona, Culebra and Vieques. The population exceeds 3 million, many of whom speak both English and Spanish.
For decades, the North American Mission Board has been looking for ways to enhance missions strategy in this U.S. territory, but when Hurricane Maria struck in 2017, the devastation to Puerto Rico and her people necessitated immediate action.
Puerto Rican church planter Andres Laracuente explains that disaster response is making a difference in the region. He says, “Hurricane Maria opened up many new opportunities to get to know my community better, to get to know the surrounding neighborhoods. I’ve seen many kids that I didn’t see before Maria. I’m preaching the gospel to different people than I was before. My family has also grown more focused on the gospel and the Word of God.”
Through our renewed emphasis on church planting on the island, Laracuente and other church planters and missionaries will have additional resources and opportunities to expand gospel ministry efforts in their communities.
“As we continue to pray for and help in the physical healing and restoration of Puerto Rico, we must also consider the spiritual well-being of its residents as well,” said Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. “Our Send Puerto Rico effort brings new resources and increased attention to the needs, with a special emphasis on starting churches that will be an ongoing gospel presence and places of strength and hope in times of need.”
Currently, there are 56 Southern Baptist churches on the island, engaging a population of more than 3.4 million people. There are 78 municipalities and about 40 don’t yet have an Southern Baptist church in them. In the capital city of San Juan, there are two established Baptist churches, and while in the past few years several more have been planted, the need exists for many more based on population.
The need for more life-giving, community-based churches is great. From planting a church to partnering with those already on mission in Puerto Rico, you and your church can make a difference; connect with us to learn how.
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