This is the heart of the question we were contemplating with our SDB brethren in the Cayman Islands as they shared their vision for a permanent Seventh Day Baptist presence on Grand Cayman. The challenge is that those in the group there are primarily Jamaican visiting workers on temporary visas. They typically can stay for a few years then have to leave the country for a year to “reset” their status, and then can apply to come back and work. This means the leadership has to pass the baton as members are regularly forced to step away because of immigration issues.
Their experience has been that the work goes slowly building their community of believers because they spend a good amount of attention on transition efforts. They also feel they are working with a disadvantage since they would expect the Cayman natives to be unreceptive to their ministry work because they hold the social position of foreign temporary workers in their society. They feel one way to overcome some of that stigma for their congregation is to call a pastor or missionary from a respected industrialized nation, like the USA or Canada, to bring credibility to their faith and practices.
The first problem we identified was the lack of capable ministers willing to leave their careers and congregations to go for an extended amount of time and try to draw and disciple Caymanians to become leaders of an SDB church in the islands. The existing members confessed that they were all motivated to come to the Caymans primarily for economic advantage — not as a ministry calling. This was understandable. Then we realized that we had not been talking about what God wanted for this congregation, but what we wanted. We were interested in His timing and provision for our plans to have a permanent home for SDBs coming over to work from Jamaica.
Now some of the congregation members began to sense that maybe God’s plan for their work is to identify the needs they can best address from their current abilities. They felt it was possible they might need to be focusing on reaching others in the community who are on temporary visas that do not have a church family ministering to them, because they also are “outsiders.”
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” — Matthew 25:35
I think each of us, from time to time, needs to stop and evaluate why we are doing what we are doing. Whether it is in our local churches, jobs, studies, hobbies, or relationships, we need to regularly assess whose kingdom we are building. I can be carrying out “successful” ministry in whatever I am doing and portray the appearance of righteous activity, but still be feathering my own nest instead of basing my actions on the love of Jesus flowing through me, to those around me, and back to Him. We can be doing seemingly good things, but they still may not be God things.
I was glad for the hospitality that I received from our Jamaican SDBs in the Caymans. But I was more pleased to know they were willing and truly looking for God’s desire for their ministry and open to the possibility that He was asking more of them for His glory in the Cayman Islands. Please, join me in prayer that His will be done and that they recognize the provision for the work He has prepared them to do with Him.
By Clint Brown – Executive Director For this and other Sabbath Recorder Articles click – HERE