By Rachel Gunter Shapard
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit our partners in the Bahamas. I planned to be there to attend the Convocation gathering for CBF of the Bahamas that is held every two years, but due to the hardship brought on by Hurricane Joaquin, the week-long event was cancelled. I decided to keep my trip in place in order to introduce a minister from a CBF church in Alabama to all of our friends and pastors on Grand Bahama.
During my trip I had the opportunity to visit all three of the churches on Grand Bahama and catch up with their pastors. We toured two schools and went to three communities on the east end of the island (including Sweetings Cay.) We discussed the wonderful work that is occurring in and through the churches of CBF of the Bahamas, as well as the hopes and dreams the pastors have for their congregations and communities. It was such a delight to see the encouragement each of the pastors receive from one another!
One of the highlights of the trip was a joint worship service on Wednesday night with attendees from New Emanuel Baptist Church (McLeans Town), Ebenezer Baptist Church (Sweetings Cay), St. Cleveland Baptist Church (Freetown) and from New Ebenezer (Salina Point) on Acklins Island. Rufus Forbes, pastor of New Ebenezer, was the moderator for the evening worship service. Even after weathering a category 4 hurricane, Pastor Forbes’ spirits were not damaged in the least. Through his worship leadership he shared with the group these words: “I saw love flown to me . . . and it bore the letters: CBF.”
Pastor Forbes received love in the form of a water purification system from CBF Florida just days before making his way to Grand Bahama. Upon receiving the system, he experienced the love and friendship we share in a tangible form. On that day, love was not a feeling or an emotion — love was a verb. Pastor Forbes, the members of New Ebenezer Baptist Church and the people living in Salina Point experienced love in action in the form of clean water that was accessible to every family during a time of great need.
I am thankful to be associated with a group of individuals and churches who realize that an action is only worthy to be deemed love if it is shared openly, freely and with abandon, in the way that out Lord and Savior Jesus Christ demonstrated for us through his death and resurrection. Thanks be to God for the example we have in Jesus Christ, and thanks also to God for people who are modeling their lives in the way of Jesus.
Rachel Gunter Shapard serves as the Associate Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida.