Ragged Island Missionary Report
originally published April 1, 2019
by Victoria Mandracken
SAMI’s Communication Volunteer
Ragged Island is located in the southern Bahamas inside the edge of the Cuban outer air defense identification zone, a mere 50 miles from Cuba. In 2014 Tony Vermillion, President of the Tennessee Chapter of Pilots for Christ International, started going down to this small Bahamian island to help improve the Ebenezer Baptist Church facility with 25 year veteran missionary Dave Spangler of FlyN4God Ministries. Many teams from his local church, Second Baptist Church, in Clinton, Tennessee, went to Ragged Island to help in that project over the next couple of years.
The small island community was full of families, with about 100 people living there, working in the fishing industry along with some small amount of tourism and other small business ventures. Years of witnessing the Holy Spirit change lives and bring folks to a saving knowledge of Christ through Vacation Bible School (VBS) and other ministries, was life changing for Dave Spangler of FlyN4God Ministries. Tony worked with Dave in several ministry opportunities during the last 14 years. As the seasons passed, God grew Tony’s heart to be especially soft and strong for the people of Ragged Island.
Many of us remember how Hurricane Irma parked herself in the beautiful Bahamas region in the fall of 2017 and slowly moved the winds and water up to Florida. The 16 inch thick walls of the Ebenezer Baptist Church building were destroyed by a tornado spawned during the hurricane. Almost everyone’s home and their livelihood on the island was either destroyed or sustained significant damage.
Initially FEMA and the Bahamian Government supplied tarps and some rebuild materials to the island but not nearly enough for each home in need. In the interim, some individuals have bought materials and some Christian churches and others in Nassau have been sending supplies to the community on the mail boat which comes about every 10 days or so. Our Lord didn’t forget Ragged Island’s people. He has written their needs upon Dave’s, Tony’s and many other missionary team member’s hearts.
After hurricane Irma hit the community, Tony’s missionary life was transformed to becoming more full-time and more focused on helping the displaced people of Ragged Island. Tony and the missionaries who are helping the community rebuild pray that showing God’s love in action to this community will grow their personal hope in a better future, renew their trust in God or plant the Gospel seed.
As I write this piece the island’s population as of the second week of March 2019, is only 25 people . . . but these twenty-five people are strong! Three of the island’s women, Ms. Flo, Maxine, and Charlene, have kindly given the missionaries a great Bahamian dinner every evening after they worked on the island to help restore roofs and other community necessities such as a residence for a local health professional. The island has been without local medical care of a nurse or doctor for over 18 months and mission teams are working hard to finish repairs and updates to the missionary house so a nurse can have a permanent residence. It will be a huge blessing to have medical care on Ragged Island so residents stay healthy as they slowly repair their homes. Please remember the work to rebuild is slow because most families had to move to other islands and start new employment. Rebuilding for many families is a weekend or monthly endeavor done by a few family members and for others a future plan.
Longtime Ragged Island resident Myron has faithfully been orchestrating the task of allocating where items are to go to help those who are diligently working on improving their homes and the community. Phicol is another resident who works for the island’s electric company is actively using his skills to bring power back to everyone on the island and his gifts as needs arise. When Phicol isn’t working for the community, he is rebuilding his sport fishermen camp with the hope of restarting his charter fishing business that abruptly ended in 2017. Graciously he houses mission teams when they come to the island to help residents with home rebuilding projects. These two men of Ragged Island are not only helping their Bahaman community but also our local community.
Sarah Law from Wings of Grace went on the last mission trip which ended in the beginning of March. She shared during SAMI’s March meeting that the entire experience was very powerful. The teen was especially moved by the Godly island man who faithfully awoke every morning at 4 am to prayer walk Ragged Island, giving all cares and praises to our Lord. The other four young people from Wings of Grace that attended SAMI’s meeting were pleased to use their growing knowledge of aviation first hand and take part in the community’s rebuilding projects.
The Ragged Island missionary field is safe because of the hospitality and project management provided by Phicol and Myron. Tony is pleased to report the missionaries have completed 6 home roofs, reroofed and rebuilt the inside of the mission house for the future nurse, and are working on other houses while plans to rebuild the church slowly can be seen on the distant horizon of time.
Please pray that God’s spirit of hope will bring more men and women back to work on their homes and livelihoods as they see the love of Christ extended to them through our Christian brothers and sisters. Tentatively plans are for Pilots for Christ members to fly down with Tony after Easter Sunday on April 22-27 (Tuesday – Saturday). Dave is also planning to do a trip May 6-10 and already a couple of roofing jobs are lined up along with the remaining work to complete the mission house for the nurse. SAMI looks forward to helping all missionaries with upcoming plans.
We thank God for the several chapters of Pilots for Christ International (Tennessee, Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida Space Coast- SAMI), FlyN4God Ministries, Wings of Grace Ministry, churches and other organizations who are helping to rebuild the Ragged Island Community.
Thank you again for your continued prayers . . . they are being answered for the people of Ragged Island and the missionaries who are becoming Christ’s hands, feet and heart.
- If you live in Florida and want to become a member of Pilots for Christ, please join the Florida Space Coast chapter SAMI for $35.oo annual fee.
- To support or participate in the next Mission Trip to Ragged Island please contact Pilots for Christ Tennessee Chapter President Tony Vermillion at firstname.lastname@example.org