Oh, the island life! One thing I learned from pastoring a church for 10 years in the Florida Keys is that the boating and yachting community is large and is one of the most un-churched and un-reached people groups in the world. And the yachting numbers are growing fast throughout America and the world! That means the mission field is ripe!
Here in America, many people, after working hard all of their lives have retired into a boating and yachting lifestyle. Traveling the “Great Loop” here in America and then traversing the islands of the Caribbean have become passions for many in the yachting community. Many have sold their homes and all of their possessions in order to live on a boat full time and achieve their dream.
For many of them, before this dramatic change in their lifestyle, they had a church family to connect with, a place where they could be nurtured and grow spiritually. But now that they have retired and entered into a new season of their life and made this lifestyle change, they no longer have a church home or a pastor or others to talk with, pray with, and grow with; so they experience spiritual drought and emptiness and become disconnected from the Body of Christ.
Caribbean Island Ministries exists to help with all of these issues and even more!
As a pastor for 30 years, pastoring churches in tourist towns like Portsmouth, NH and Clearwater, FL and Marathon Key, I have seen firsthand how the lives of the boating and yachting community is affected. We’ve all noticed that the rich and famous as well as the middle class and others learn the hard way that all of the trappings of this life and all of the wealth that this world offers, doesn’t compare to all that God has for us.
I have always said that throughout the Bible, God shows us that He has something for all of us to do and someone for us to be. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor or small or great in the eyes of men, God has a wonderful plan for everyone!
So our goal is to partner with local island churches and pastors by sharing with this group of people the news of the Gospel and how much it is that God loves them, accepts them, and forgives them.
Our belief is that everyone needs compassion and to realize God’s plan and purpose in this life, and that having a real, relevant, living, breathing relationship with Jesus is what everyone needs.
And Kathy and I are praying that God will use us and that we will be His hands and feet to the boating and yachting community and to the people of the islands.
We are grateful to God that in 2007, we were able to lead a team of 52 people from the New England area to Marsh Harbour, on Abaco Island in the Bahamas to help restore a youth camp that was devastated by a hurricane. This trip just deepened our passion for the islands!
Having been blessed to be in Israel and to ride on the Sea of Galilee by boat reminds me that throughout the Bible, boats were used in countless ways. As a matter of fact, Scripture makes reference to boats almost 50 times. Noah built the Ark, Jonah ran from God using a boat, Paul went on three missionary journeys by boat, and Jesus used a boat to teach to the people on shore. And on and on I could go. The point is, the Lord gives us many different ways to reach the lost, and He uses common interests like boating and fishing, to open the door for us to share and show the Good News.
For Kathy and I, this is more than a yachting ministry; it is also an opportunity to help with disaster relief, help young pastors with our collective wisdom and knowledge, and the opportunity to bring teams of people to the islands to help with building projects and special needs.