It started by serving a practical need.
September 2017, two Category 5 hurricanes tore through the Caribbean and Central Florida. People lost their homes, their livelihoods, and for some, their loved ones. On top of that, they fought the pain of feeling forgotten. But they were are on the heart and mind of the redeeming God.
Most of the news pointed to Puerto Rico and the devastation that happened there. But St. Thomas is a thirty-two square mile island. When you take a Category 5, two of them, ten days apart . . . they got crushed.
—Keith Tower, Pastor of HighPoint Orlando
God moved through HighPoint Church in Orlando to respond to their need years before the hurricanes—when Pastor Keith Tower and the church first began feeling a heavy burden to pray for the Caribbean. Now, it was time to act.
Their relief action began back when a woman walked into Pastor Keith’s church. They led her to Christ, and she began dating her now husband, whom she led to Christ. They were both baptized and married in the church, growing as leaders. Then the husband got relocated for work.
That’s where God’s redeeming plan began to unfold. It turned out, her husband works for one of the largest construction firms in the world, that moved 500 engineers to the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) to help rebuild. Life in these areas depend heavily on tourism and agriculture. Without reconstruction, every area of their lives are at stake. Our engineer’s heart for social responsibility led him to move urgently to help the islands. God gave him favor to be the only engineer there with a valid contracting license allowing work on the island, placing him in charge of managing the project. Then his boldness in Christ led him to connect with the University of the Virgin Islands’ basketball coach, who became key to reaching all across the USVI.
While the officials worked on the infrastructure of the capital island, St. Thomas, Pastor Keith knew that God was sending them to work on the hearts and minds of the people.
Through the engineer’s connection with the basketball coach, Keith was able to lead a ministry team to rebuild basketball courts, playgrounds, and even provide athletic equipment for the university. Their heart to serve led the university to ask them to start a campus ministry! Now, every two weeks, a team flies to the island to lead Bible studies, evangelize on campus, and raise up student leaders in the official Every Nation Campus chapter there.
As the island embraced Every Nation Campus, the vision to plant a church was met with open arms. Their contacts even asked the Every Nation team if they can plant a church on the neighboring US island, St. Croix. The university basketball coach attended the Every Nation 2019 Go Conference to be equipped for ministry, build relational ties, and catch the global vision.
God has continued to answer the burden he placed on our Every Nation church’s heart, giving opportunities on other islands. By his grace, they’re currently doing outreach in Puerto Rico, as well as taking short-term mission trips to other Caribbean nations. The immense diversity of the region has led to many nationalities being reached, with the Virgin Islands alone giving them interactions with Haitians, Dutch, and other expatriates.
I think the responsibility for the church to step up is immense because we can provide family and the sense of belonging that gets disrupted when the basic necessities of life do.
With the ultimate goal to raise local leaders to lead ministry on the islands, the challenge Keith’s team faces is simply distance. Please pray for the team as God keeps opening door after door in the Caribbean for people to encounter him, for needs to be met, and for lives to be restored.