The mutual value of partnerships between Kentucky Baptists and churches outside this country echoed through eastern Kentucky in mid-October when a Brazilian pastor, his wife and niece impacted the Three Forks Association.
Pastor Marcos Câmara, his wife Auri and their niece, Júlia, who served as their interpreter, were guests of the Hazard-based association which has partnered with Jardim Batiste First Baptist Church in São Paulo since 2015.
The three visitors, making their first trip outside Brazil, were kept busy during their six-day visit in Kentucky. Pastor Marcos spoke to churches as well as at an associational meeting while his wife addressed a WMU gathering. They combined to speak seven times in five churches.
When Three Forks Association, under the leadership of associational missions strategist Jamie Reynolds, began the partnership in 2015, Pastor Marcos surprised the Kentucky delegation on its Vision Trip in 2015 when he said, “We don’t need money, we need your partnership because it gives us credibility.”
He said the church had lacked credibility because it had closed its doors twice prior to Marcos’ arrival as pastor. “And we needed the partnership because it would help reach more people.”
Reynolds said the primary purpose of Three Folks partnering with the Brazilian church was “to go alongside and help them do what God called them to do.”
On mission trips to Sao Paulo, Three Forks helped the church by doing evangelistic home visits and small groups. Church members would open their homes to small group Bible studies and invite unsaved friends to those meetings.
Also, the association helped establish a partnership with the local elementary school, resulting in the gospel being shared with more than 600 children in a public school. That school visit allowed them to invite the students to a Saturday festival at the church.
When Marcos became the pastor, the church had about 23 adults and 23 children attending. Now it has an average of 70 adults and 30 children attending.
Doug Williams, missions strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, noted that KBC churches have been working with International Mission Board leaders and former KBC workers Scott and Joyce Pittman in Brazil for several years.
Reynolds said the partnership “helped our churches put names and faces to missions. We see more and more how valuable a partnership is when compared to just going to different mission trips every time.”
The association plans at least two more trips to Brazil next year.
Reynolds pointed out that Three Forks is an association consisting primarily of small churches. “Most of our churches average 40-50 people. But six of them became involved in the partnership, and I anticipate that will greatly increase as a result of their (Brazilian) visit.”
Pastor Marcos added, “We realize with this partnership how God is happy with this work that is done.”
Both Pastor Marcos and Reynolds agree that the partnership has created unity and demonstrated to churches how important it is to work alongside one another. “Since the partnership started, our church has grown in numbers. Another important thing is the friendship bond we have today.”