Members of the First Baptist Church of Memphis, Tenn., unanimously approved a partnership with the First Baptist Church of Florida, Cuba, earlier in May.
“Our partnership is really one to give them necessary resources to do what they’re already very capable of doing,” said FBC Memphis partnership committee chairman John McCall. “They know how to do evangelism and worship. What they lack is simply the educational materials and resources.”
The partnership entails a multi-faceted, on-going project; FBC Memphis will send members to coordinate Vacation Bible School, construction and other forms of outreach.
“It is a strategy, I think, that helps to put a face on the Great Commission,” said FBC Memphis Associate Pastor Carol Richardson, a member of the partnership committee.
FBC Memphis’ partnership is modeled after a similar program launched by Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Richardson traveled to Cuba last May with a team from Park Cities, which is currently partnered with two Cuban churches, to observe how such a partnership works.
Coordinating with East-West Ministries, Richardson learned of a church in Cuba with which to partner—FBC Florida, Cuba.
Richardson was part of a five-member team from FBC Memphis that traveled to Cuba to visit FBC Florida in March (see related story).
Richardson summed up the charter projects in four words: people, prayer, physical resources.
FBC Memphis is committed to pray for the members of FBC Florida, Cuba, and its community, Richardson said. FBC Memphis will also call on its own members to coordinate on-site projects.
The final component—physical resources—is coming together. FBC Memphis has raised $10,000 for the construction of a pastor’s residence and an educational building for the church. FBC Memphis will also begin sending literature, Bibles and other learning resources.
McCall, director of international programs for family medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis, is exploring the possibility of a medical ministry. Cuban medicine is very effective in dealing with preventive and mental health, McCall said.
“They very much understand the mind-body connection, but they don’t understand the spiritual connection” that can also impact mental and physical health, McCall said.
Sending medical students to Cuba to work in the field and holding medical conferences may be ways of reaching out to Cubans.
In the meantime, McCall and the partnership committee have a few other projects in mind. FBC Memphis will begin planning on-site visits later this summer. The church is also in discussion about working with a Cuban church in Memphis that has the resources to send personnel to Cuba but has had difficulty sending missionaries.
FBC Memphis may be able to help, Richardson said.
Jared Porter is a junior journalism major at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.