Florida church expands missions outreach to all 7 continents


ST. JOHNS, Fla. — With its recent mission trip to Australia, Fruit Cove Baptist Church in North Florida has reached its goal of extending its missions footprint to all seven continents.

While it’s something the church has celebrated, Jonathan Wilson, the church’s families and missions pastor, will tell you the church still has more to do.

“That’s the one thing about ministry – you never get to the point where you are done,” he said. “You have wins. You have some things to celebrate. But it’s about helping people get discipled and get mobilized so they can see how God can use them now to make a difference.”

Through a combination of short-term mission trips and partnerships over the past seven and a half years that Wilson has been on staff, the church was able to reach this goal, including the mobilization of 160 people to six continents on 17 trips in 2023 alone. Wilson said he was initially inspired by Tim Maynard, now pastor emeritus at the church, who shared his desire for reaching all the continents.

“It’s all about relationships,” Wilson said in describing how he got started on this initiative after coming on church staff. He began with some existing partnerships the church had in Central and South America, and then expanded on that. He also looked to the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board to establish connections with missionaries and ministries already in place.

“NAMB and IMB are both very supportive and great resources for us to find people on the ground who are getting it done, people we can trust and come alongside with prayer, support and resources,” he said.

Fruit Cove Baptist currently partners with about 32 church plants throughout North America. Here is a look at the church’s missions work on the other six continents:

EUROPE: In London the church partners with an IMB church planter who has started the first evangelical church in his hometown of Wroughton, just outside of London. “We partner with the work there and will be sending a team to the UK over spring break,” Wilson said. “We also have several families who’ve adopted specific Wroughton streets to pray for on a regular basis.”

ASIA: Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, has been designated as a key global city by the IMB, and Fruit Cove wanted to be part of that emphasis. Fruit Cove partners with a church plant there. A family from Fruit Cove helps lead the church plant. The church is planning to send a team next fall.

AFRICA: To adopt an unreached people group, the church has partnered with an IMB unit that is working hard to reach a nomadic group located in the Horn of Africa. Two church members traveled to the Horn to establish connections and were introduced to Christ followers among the people group, including one young man who uses a radio program to broadcast the gospel in the area. The church helped fund that ministry and is now sending four people there in February.

CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA: Guatemala was one of the first mission trips for the church in 2015. It’s a compassion-type ministry where teams build one or two houses and do food distribution and children’s ministries. The church now sends three teams annually to Guatemala and have expanded to include components of medical and dental ministries. Now the church has expanded into South America with church planting and children’s Bible clubs in Ecuador.

ANTARCTICA: Here, Fruit Cove established a connection and sent support to a NAMB- endorsed chaplain who serves at the McMurdo Station, an American research station. The church bought a new sound system for the chapel there and new DVDs and books for the library. Church members had applied for some of the 800 civilian seasonal jobs so they could be part of the mission work there, but the COVID outbreak prevented that. He said the church plans to revisit this effort at some point.

AUSTRALIA: It took a while, but eventually the church connected with the only IMB missionary couple in all of Australia and New Zealand. A 13-member mission team just returned from Sydney, Australia, in January after helping lead the first holiday Bible club, similar to a Vacation Bible School.

Fruit Cove member Katrin Lindo, who was part of the mission team, said she enjoyed getting to know the children and forming relationships with their parents as well as other members of Mosaic Community Church.

“Going on the mission trip, we always want to impact the lives of those we come in contact with, but also to be able to encourage those we serve on the field,” she said. “It was a great blessing for me to come alongside the local church and the missionaries who serve in Australia.”

Fresh on the heels of that group’s return from Australia, the church just commissioned a young intern who will begin the process of training as an IMB Journeyman in Australia. Because of the church’s ongoing missions focus, that type of commissioning of mission groups and individuals has become a regular part of its Sunday services.

“It’s really cool how the Lord has orchestrated and provided some great opportunities for us,” Wilson said. “We’ve already partnered with two church plants in Sydney and some other ministry opportunities. I’m excited about what Fruit Cove can potentially do to help advance the gospel in Australia in the years to come.”

For churches looking to expand their missions outreach, Wilson recommends a missions partnership framework known as the four Ps:

  • Prayer: “Pray for our partners, and they pray for us.”
  • Provision: “Sometimes that provision is a one-time gift, such as a church that needs a sound system or extra chairs, or it could be ongoing, such as monthly support.”
  • Participate: “We want to participate in their ministry. They’re also invited to participate in our ministry.”
  • Party: “We want to celebrate the wins that our partners have. We want to celebrate with each other when certain milestones occur.”

“This is something any church can do,” he said. “Any church can come alongside a church plant or a church in need of revitalization to say, ‘We see you, and we know you; we love you and we’re with you.’ That’s what this is about. I would encourage everyone reading this article – if your church is not engaged in church planting or mission partnerships, start here in Florida. We have more than 100 church plants that would love another church to come alongside and pray with them.”