Independent Baptist Church of PilarI believe it was Samuel Clemens, the great American novelist who went by the pen name Mark Twain, who commented regarding rumors of his death, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Having been absent from the “blogosphere” for nearly three weeks, I know some are wondering the same about this author!

In the past month I have spent time with missionaries supported by the church I pastor in Tampa, Hillsdale Baptist Church. James and Amy (Coffill) Greenwood and Buddy and Loren (Salazar) Fitzgerald are top-tier missionaries (of course, some could accuse me of lacking objectivity since both Amy and Loren are young women who call Hillsdale home and I love as daughters). My heart overflows with joy after spending time with both families.

Greenwoods in front of churchThe Greenwoods and Fitzgeralds have proven to be worthy investments of our missionary offerings as each has established thriving church ministries in their respective countries. I had the privilege of preaching the building dedication and inauguration service for the Independent Baptist Church of Pilar, Argentina founded by the Greenwoods and pastored by James. With a partnership forged with the Greenwood’s supporting churches and pastors and the labor and sacrifice of the members in Pilar, a beautiful two-story church building now stands as a testimony of God’s grace and blessing.

FitzgeraldsThe Fitzgeralds labor for the LORD in a town in the jungles of Peru.  Buddy and Loren lead a thriving church ministry they founded among the Peruvian people.  With a goal to move into the jungle and live among the tribal people, the Fitzgeralds are looking to raise funds this next year to purchase land and, like the Greenwoods, construct a building for their church to identify as home. The church will be their home base when the Fitzgeralds move up river into the jungle.

This Sunday morning, in the 10:30 service, I plan to share with the Hillsdale family a mission’s report of my trip; however, more important than a trip report is the vision I pray will be the Mission Vision of Hillsdale, 2016-2026.

I will continue this theme in upcoming posts.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith