Religion

The vision remains: secure and strong

Forty years on, the future generation, as well as the vision and mandate of Bahamas Faith Ministries International (BFMI), remains secure and strong, according to senior pastor Dave Burrows, BFMI pastor, at a service to launch the ministry’s fourth decade celebrations. And he said as a church they have plans to celebrate all year long.

“As a church and organization, we have truly come from a mighty long way,” said Burrows during the launch service on Sunday.

“We have traversed many terrains over these many years and endured many challenges – most especially in our very early years where this new vision of a ‘ministry’ presented by Dr. Myles Munroe and his then very young team of visionaries was less than acceptable by the local church culture at that time. However, with a spirit-infused determination coupled with a passion and focus for winning souls and sharing the message of the kingdom of God, many who had reservations and doubt later came to acknowledge the positive impact Bahamas Faith Ministries was having on the lives of those who came into contact with our ministry and teachings.”

Burrows was grateful that he was able to see many aspects foreshadowed in the early days of BFM become a reality, including the vision of being a local church with a global vision.

“And now, with the advent of the internet, we are experiencing even more aspects of our global mission as our church now boasts members in several continents who, through technology, join us in weekly services via livestream.”

BFM, which was founded by the late Dr. Myles Munroe, along with a small group of equally dynamic and visionary leaders and their wives – the late Dr. Richard Pinder, Pastor Henry Francis and Burrows – was officially launched in 1980.

Munroe, Pinder and Burrows all met as students at Oral Roberts University, and came together to form BFM after Munroe decided to return home upon completion of his graduate studies in the United States, with a vision to launch a new and different type of church experience. Shortly thereafter, the team grew to include Pastor Jay Mullings, Leona Mitchell and Pastor Wesley Smith.

And what began as a fledgling Bible study group meeting in a former wash house on Prince Charles Drive, expanded rapidly, forcing the leaders to change location several times over the next few years due to the growth it was experiencing.

They also introduced praise and worship, liturgical dance, expository teaching and the manifestation of ministry gifts to the BFM church experience, which, at the time, was considered a radical approach to the traditional church experience and had people labeling the new ministry a “cult”, according to Pastor Kevin Harris, marketing and public relations co-ordinator for the 40th anniversary.

“Adding to the allure, initially, the group received no offerings during service, leaving some to speculate that the ministry was being financed by foreign groups or individuals. This also led to a number of other wild social rumors including that the salaries of individuals attending BFM were being deducted, and funds were being credited to BFM’s bank account.”

In its early years, BFM relocated to what was known then as the Balmoral Beach Hotel and began hosting conferences and seminars including the Believers Convention and the Leadership Convention, which were later renamed the Believers Summit and the Leadership Summit.

With continued growth, BFM relocated again – to the Royal Palm Mall facility on Mackey Street where the ministry expanded its global reach and influence with appearances on international television stations and networks including the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and the Inspiration Network. BFM also established a presence in the local marketplace on the television program “Choices”.

The ministry’s presence and influence was further highlighted through its dynamic youth ministry led by Burrows and his wife Angie Burrows; the Children’s Ministry led by pastors Cassandra and Charles Nottage; as well as its Fine Arts Ministry led by the late Dr. Mark Bethel.

In 1994, BFM relocated yet again to its current location at Carmichael Road and established its newly built facility, dubbed the Diplomat Center. BFM continued to introduce programs and initiatives including “Youth Alive”, “ASAPH”, “The Global Leadership Forum”, “Believers Summit” and “Kingdom Summit”, which delegates and speakers travelled to The Bahamas from over 60 nations to be a part of. In-house ministry events such as “Women of Excellence”, “Real Men” and “Kingdom Carenet” also flourished.

And Munroe further established the global impact of BFM through the establishment of Myles Munroe International (MMI), which furthered his influence as a global statesman, advisor, motivator and best-selling author.

In November 2014, Munroe prepared to host scores of delegates from around the world in Freeport, Grand Bahama, for the annual Global Leadership Forum but just before it was scheduled to begin, he, along with his wife Ruthann and seven others – his brother-in-law Dr. Richard Pinder; newly installed youth pastors Radel and Lavard Parks, their son Jojo and their unborn child; as well as pilots Frakhan Cooper and Captain Stanley Thurston and international friend Diego Desantiago – died in a plane crash.

“The visionary was gone but the vision remained,” said Harris.

Burrows and his wife Angie assumed the leadership mantle of BFM shortly after the crash and continue to build on the legacy of transforming followers into leaders and leaders into agents of change, maintaining a local church with a global vision while emphasizing the message of the kingdom.

Francis and Mullings, the remaining founder’s group of pastors, continued to support the vision as it transitioned to new leadership. The new leadership includes Burrows as senior pastor and Pastor Kersch Darville as fellowship pastor.

Since the transition of leadership in 2014, Harris said BFM has continued to flourish and has moved forward with new programs and initiatives including the establishment of KBEN (Kingdom Business and Empowerment Network); BFM Toastmasters Club; 2nd Chance Program for Inner City Youth; Mothers in Zion; Change Agents Ministry for Millennials; and Cyber Membership.

“Far from fading off into the sunset, BFM is poised beyond its 40th anniversary to focus further on the ones who are behind the ministry – the millennials, youth and children,” said Harris.

The anniversary marketing and public relations co-ordinator said plans are engaged for a revitalized and re-energized children’s ministry, youth ministry and millennials ministry.

“BFM has big plans to continue its strategic leadership initiatives preparing members to positively influence our country and the world as trained and equipped leaders in every sphere of national and international life. The center of the future vision for BFMI is a multimillion-dollar youth, family, community and leadership center to house all of the programs and initiatives of the new BFM. This includes a state-of-the-art facility with classrooms, a recreational center, meeting rooms, cafeteria and gymnasium to attract young people through sports and specialized activities.”

Harris said BFM began with the mantra of being a local church with a global vision and has seen this become a reality, having attracted scores of followers globally. He said the global church initiative now includes official cyber members who have become an official part of streaming technology through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

BFM launched its 40th anniversary celebrations during a service on Sunday, February 16 at the Myles E. Munroe Diplomat Center. During the launch service, there was a showing of a special anniversary mini documentary and cutting of the cake by the Burrowses, supported by fellow pastors and members of the church’s leadership team.

Events planned to celebrate the four-decade anniversary include a fun/run walk and health fair scheduled for Saturday, February 22; a gospel concert scheduled for Easter Sunday, April 12; a service scheduled for August 18; and a banquet scheduled for November 1.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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