Miami church meets in unique setting
Turning Point Little Havana worships in downtown apartment buildings
Aug 18, 2014
By ANNA BARLOW
MIAMI (FBW)—In today’s day and age, many evangelists are having to rethink their traditional approaches to spreading the Gospel.
Pastors have traded suits and ties for jeans and button ups, church meetings are held everywhere from barns to restaurants, and baptisms take place at the beach. There is no box in which to put how the Word of God can be presented, and there are no limitations to how incredible opportunities can pop up in the most unique ways.
Almost two years ago, one such unique approach began developing in the hearts of the congregation of Turning Point Baptist Church, a five-year-old church in the Kendall area of Miami-Dade County.
The call to plant another church was upon them, and though they did not know where, with whom, when or with what money they would be able to help make this plant, TPBC trusted that the Lord did. Soon after, a member of the congregation, Jaime Martinez, felt the call to ministry and began to earnestly pray and prepare for the future church. Shortly after that Noel Lozano, pastor of TPBC, received a call from North American Mission Board leaders in the region and was offered the chance to be shown a building project.
Located in downtown Miami and belonging to a Christian, two apartment buildings—18 floors each—stand towering over the busy streets. One of the towers houses low-income individuals and families, and the other houses seniors 55 years and older.
“At that time, we understood that [the buildings] were the missing piece of the puzzle,” Lozano said. “We accepted the challenge and work began.
“First, we surveyed apartment by apartment [300 apartments total] to recognize the basic needs and characteristics of the people living there. We found that [overcoming] loneliness was one of the greatest needs, and distrust the greatest obstacle. The group, comprised of members from the congregation who carried out the surveying, was given the task of recreational activities and they gained the trust of residents.”
It has been roughly eight months since work started in the Miami buildings, and those eight months have been full of transformation and God’s grace. The building owners donated an apartment so a chaplain could live on-site and take care of the people in both buildings, and they also donated space to be used for meetings. This unique plant has been named Turning Point Little Havana, and they now have weekly worship meetings in the buildings.
It does not stop with weekly worship. Every Monday, about 100 bags of food are distributed to the neediest families in the complexes. Seven months ago, a weekly Bible study with 10 people began, and it has increased to 70 attendees. They hope to grow to 100 by the end of this year. The number of people in the buildings is unknown.
God has been hard at work transforming lives, and members have been rescued from drugs, Santeria (a syncretic religion of West Africa and Caribbean) and depression. “Just last week,” adds Lozano, “there were 12 decisions for Christ.” The church has also hosted Vacation Bible School for kids, and it was recognized by the mayor of Miami for its outstanding work in the community.
“TPLH is recognition of God's faithfulness and the results of the layout and teamwork,” Lozano said. “As senior pastor of Turning Point, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity NAMB has given us in this ‘experiment,’ to the owners of the buildings, to the leaders of our convention and to those that with practically nothing responded to God's call. TPLH is proof of the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.”
Future plans for the church are to continue to grow and try to involve more people who do not necessarily live in the two buildings, but in the surrounding community.
“On behalf of Turning Point, we are open and ready for any opportunity that God might have to expand His work in this city of Miami that is in so much need of Him,” Lozano said. “We are a young church, but we serve an almighty God.”
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.