Jamaica is located in the geographical center of the Caribbean and is the third-largest island. The name Jamaica comes from “Haymaca,” a native Indian word meaning “Island of Fountains.” The population includes a mixture of Blacks, Caucasians, Chinese, East Indians, Portuguese Jews, Palestinian Arabs, and Syrians.
Over 50 percent of the population of Jamaica are members of mainline denominations. There is literally a church on every corner. Unfortunately, the majority of these churches do not preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In 1939 a request came to Baptist Mid-Missions by a group of pastors in Jamaica concerned about the liberal theology that was devastating the evangelical church. This provided the initiative for Rev. GW Smith to come to Jamaica and work in the rural areas of the parish of St. Elizabeth. In 1962, the missionaries were challenged to branch out to other parts of the island. As a result, churches have been established in other parishes, including the major cities—Kingston and Montego Bay. Fairview Baptist Bible College was begun, and in 1963 the Association of Independent Baptist Churches was formed. In May 1997 the Bible college was turned over to national leadership, along with Baptist Mid-Missions Jamaica, Inc. (our legal entity granting us permission to work in the country).
In 2009 Baptist Mid Missions re-entered Jamaica with a church-planting team. Dr. Ken and Clea Rathbun ministered at Fairview Baptist Bible College (now serving at Faith Baptist College in Ankeny, Iowa), and Cletis and Tammy Titus came from a pastorate in the US to plant a church. With the assistance of Hillview Baptist Church (a church planted in 1963 by BMM missionaries), Bay Life Baptist Church was planted in Montego Bay in 2010. Today, Bay Life is pastored by a national pastor. It has its own facility and is a growing church in the Bogue Village area of Mobay. The Tituses had to leave the island in 2012 due to Tammy’s health, but they continued to minister with summer teams and teaching at Fairview until early 2020.
We currently have no missionaries in Jamaica, but missionaries who are burdened for this country will find opportunities to serve. The Independent Baptist Churches Association welcomes church planters and related ministries to serve in the island.