JOURNEYS

Cultivating the Field

As a native pastor in Jamaica, Pastor Vernon Allen shares about howGod has worked to make Buff Bay a training ground for oversea

Pastor Allen Vernon, pastor of Buff Bay Circuit of Independent Baptist Churches, stands in front of the GLOBE center outside the central church where he oversees, Buff Bay Baptist Church. Named after the first African-American foreign missionary to come from the Baptist denomination, GLOBE stands for George Liele Objective for Black Enterprise, and has served as a place in Jamaica where foreign missionaries can stay and make change while in the country. © Adam Cole 2010

Pastor Allen speaks to his congregation in Buff Bay at a recent service. Though his main endeavors are to lead his flock in this coastal town, he has been working to create more opportunities for missionaries to come to Jamaica. © Adam Cole 2010

I am firm believer that God has a plan for all of us, even the most disenfranchised among us. Among the many capacities that I serve as lead pastor in the Buff Bay Circuit of Independent Baptist Churches, which encompasses six churches in six nearby Districts, I steward over programs that help the poorest of the poor get their lives going and allow them to realize that they can live out that purpose.

Our endeavors here that are targeted to those in need include education and a sort of micro-lending that helps them start small businesses such as lawn care, chicken rearing and things of that nature. Through this process of personal development, we share Christ with them. That is a beautiful process, to see people not only develop themselves professionally but also in the Lord.

Jamaica has been my home all of my life, and I know God has called me to serve my people, specifically to Buff Bay and the surrounding communities. I received my seminary degree from Toronto Baptist Seminary in 1982 and returned to Jamaica, where I had returned each summer for work in what was the equivalent of an internship. My capacities here range from being a counselor, a justice of the peace, to preacher of the Word.

While my endeavors are primarily focused locally, God has moved in my heart and in this congregation to help in the global kingdom building as well. Through intersecting journeys, we here in Buff Bay are home to the GLOBE [George Liele Objective for Black Enterprise] center, which functions as a living space and headquarters for incoming missionaries, particularly those of African American descent. The name was inspired by George Liele who was the first black ordained Baptist minister and first foreign missionary from America. He along with Moses Baker founded the Baptist Church in Jamaica.

We were given the privilege to have the GLOBE center and incoming GLOBE missionaries due to a partnership created with Urban Discovery Ministries, headed by a man named Mike Fariss. I met Mike through Ken Watson, who I met through Ed Moore a New York pastor. This New York Pastor first did a mission here in 1989 and has been coming ever-since.

Mike and Ken had started a similar outreach [to what we have here in Jamaica] back in Norfolk, Va. and were looking to sort of export the new believer—the majority of which were from the inner city—to Jamaica in order to expose them to missions and connect them with the endeavor of world evangelization. We hosted the first team of Urban Discovery Ministry (that is the name of the organization in Norfolk) in 1993. The GLOBE Center, as a building for incoming missionaries, was brought to life in 1997 and a second floor was added in 2003.

During their stay, missionaries that we host usually participate in Vacation Bible School, Medical outreach, Evangelistic meetings, Home construction for the poor, Children and Youth Summer Camps and sports-focused outreach. They always bring energy and needed manpower to our ministry here.

The call of missions is something that I strongly feel all Christians should be a part of. The Buff Bay Church has led a short term mission trip to Haiti and are planning a return trip later this year. As well, we find it a special time each time that a GLOBE team comes to work here. We not only partner in the ministry building effort but also get to learn from them as they learn from us. I pray that those that do come here develop a heart for missions and join us for the long term in seeing Christ grow into the hearts of Jamaicans.

Jonathan and Kirsten Anzardo while on a Mission trip to Buff Bay in November 2008, heard the call and since December, 2009 have joined our ministry. Jon preaches regularly, Kirsten brings her musical gift to enrich our worship and teaches piano to our people. They both serve as mentors to our youths.

Kerry Ann Sylvester is another individual who has heard and is answering this call. She will join us in June and work to facilitate arrivals of incoming missionaries as well as keep our learning center going.

God is paving a path for us with missions and GLOBE. We are solidifying a partnership with mission agency World Team, which will help direct teams to us on a continual basis. I am excited to see growth in this, as our community serves as a platform to develop more hearts for missions work and in turn much Kingdom work is achieved here in Buff Bay.

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Pastor Allen Vernon is pastor Buff Bay Circuit of Independent Baptist Churches, which encompasses Buff Bay and five churches in nearby districts in Jamaica. He may be reached at vernon258@hotmail.com.