3rd Virgin Islands crusade to continue imparting hope
ST CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands (BP) -- Devastation and suffering among Hurricane Irma and Maria survivors in the U.S. Virgin Islands were palpable to Florida Baptist Jeffery Singletary, who led a mission trip to the islands months before the storms.
"I knew they had four great needs -- food, clothing, shelter and hope," Singletary said. "Red Cross could help provide food and clothing. FEMA could help provide shelter. But only the church of Jesus Christ can provide real hope."
Singletary led crusades on St. Thomas Nov. 19-21 and on St. John Dec. 21–22, supported by a host of Southern Baptists from the Florida Baptist Convention, the North American Mission Board, Calvary Baptist Church of Clearwater, Fla., Christ Fellowship of Miami, and disaster relief ministries from both the Kentucky and Alabama Baptist conventions.
Ken Weathersby, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee vice president for convention advancement, was among preachers at the St. Thomas crusade, where 575 hurricane survivors professed decisions to accept salvation in Christ.
"So many of those attending the crusade felt alone," Weathersby told BP, who preached on "the hope of Jesus in the midst of their darkness. I offered a fellowship that lives through eternity."
Volunteers including pastors and church members served 3,000 meals and distributed groceries to 26,000 individuals on St. Thomas, Singletary said, and provided groceries for 7,200 survivors during the St. John crusade, where Singletary noted 45 decisions to accept Christ.
Southern Baptist pastor Lennox Zamore was among the volunteers. Zamore, senior pastor of Exciting Central Tampa Baptist Church since October 2017, was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in St. Thomas when the storms struck.
"We're so grateful for all the volunteers and how we're going to make a tremendous impact in the lives of our community," Zamore said on Facebook while participating in the St. Thomas crusade. "We want to thank everybody for coming and being a part of this great venture."
The many speakers and worship leaders at the St. Thomas and St. John crusades included Willie Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church; Adron Robinson, senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Chicago; recording artist Niya Cotton, worship leader at Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas; and former world champion boxer Julian Jackson Sr. and his son Olympic boxer Julian Jackson Jr., both from the Virgin Islands.
The events have encouraged island residents and made them feel more connected to the 50 states, Singletary said, based on letters, emails and other messages he has received.
He encouraged Southern Baptists to do more to engage Southern Baptists in the Caribbean in ministry.
"They need us and we need them. Together we are better and the Kingdom is stronger," Singletary said. "What a great sending force they can be to the world with resources. In the past we have seen the Caribbean as a mission field. Now it's time to see them as a mission force."