It’s time to let everyone know that I’m pursuing the possibility of taking on the role of Pastor at International Bible Church on the southern Caribbean island of Bonaire. Please pray for the Lord’s wisdom for me and for the IBC congregation. The congregational vote is going to happen as I’m in Bonaire with a mission team in June.

Now, anticipating some FAQs:

How can we pray?

At this point, my biggest prayer request is for the visit that will take place in June. I will be giving the morning message on June 16 and 23. Also, I’ll be spending two weeks on the island, so this is a great opportunity to get to know people better, and let them get to know me. On the 23, a meeting will be held for the congregation to vote on my candidacy. If that vote is affirmative, this trip will also provide an opportunity to get to work on the process, or at least the plan, of actually moving to Bonaire.

Please pray for clear wisdom and direction from the Lord for everyone involved in this important decision.

Please pray for me as I prepare to preach, to respond to questions, to talk about my understanding of church and ministry. Pray that the Spirit would enable me to respond well with the love of Christ in all of my interactions—that somehow I would be able to emulate Christ, being full of grace and truth.

Pastoring any church is really an impossible job. I have all the professional training and a fair amount of experience in church ministry, but the task is greater than any training and experience can accomplish. It requires the regular, active work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the pastor and in the hearts of the people. Please pray for this on my behalf (see Ephesians 3:14-21).

How did you get connected to International Bible Church?

Back in the 1980s, Community Bible Church started supporting a missionary by the name of Totoram Baran. At that time, he was serving in the multi-cultural city of Newark, New Jersey. In 2005, Pastor Baran moved to Bonaire and became the pastor at IBC. In 2006, we started sending short-term teams to Bonaire, and I was invited to fill the pulpit a couple of Sundays that fall so that Pastor Baran could take a vacation. Since then, we’ve sent teams every year or two, and I’ve also been back several times. The relationship between the two churches has continued to grow, and I’ve become something like CBC’s liaison to IBC.

A couple years back, Pastor Baran mentioned that he would need to retire soon. As I thought about IBC, and how CBC could help, and who could serve as Pastor there, I began to visualize what needed to be done to grow the church and advance the gospel in Bonaire. Eventually, it dawned on me that I might be the man for the job—that I already loved the people of IBC and wanted the opportunity to “strive together for the faith of the gospel” with them.

Where is Bonaire?

Bonaire is in the southern Caribbean, just off the coast of Venezuela (about 50 miles) and near the islands of Curacao and Aruba.

What language do they speak in Bonaire?

Fortunately, it seems that most people in Bonaire are able to speak English, though it is not the native language for most. The primary language is Papiamentu, a creole language with roots in Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English, and perhaps some West African languages.

Bonaire is a multi-cultural place. The island has been governed by the Netherlands since the middle of the 17th century (except for a brief period of British rule in the early 1800s and a period of American and British protectorate during World War II). Consequently, Dutch is the official language and the main language of about 9% of the population. Perhaps because of the proximity to South America, 12% are native Spanish-speakers. Only about 3% are native English-speakers, but because American tourism is a significant part of the economic base of Bonaire, nearly everyone you meet has some ability to speak English.

If you have any other questions, feel free to post a comment or drop me an email.