Sitting nervously on American Airlines flight 4057, a small evaluation team consisting of Eric Recker, Laura Nicholson, and myself touched down in Marsh Harbour, Abaco Island, Bahamas, a little over a year ago today.
(L-R) Eric Recker, Tim Brand, and Laura Nicholson arrive in Abaco
Never having traveled to this location before, we knew very little, but we had a couple of contacts and a heart to serve the Lord wherever He called. At the end of this 72-hour evaluation, Laura noted in her evaluation form, “I truly believe God confirmed this is a location with people we need to walk in relationship with. God knew all along if we put our trust and plans at His feet, there was work for us to do here.”
Tim watches the sunset in Abaco
A year after this initial evaluation, we look back at how far we have come in such a short time. Being a relational ministry, our first focus is on the right relationships and partnerships in place, as this will require many hands for long-term transformation. As of right now, we have three full-time missionaries serving with us in Abaco: Sam and Lisa Berg, and Laura Nicholson with a few others to be named in the near future.
Lisa Berg, full-time missionary with Many Hands, visits with a family
We also have developed local relationships with Bahamian leaders, pastors, and government officials. Pastor Ryan Forbes has joined our team as Project Consultant, providing local knowledge and operational excellence that would have taken years to learn. Glen and Tracy Kelly of Driftwood Farms partnered with us to expand agricultural work and produce more locally-grown food.
Laura Nicholson and volunteers collect produce at Driftwood Farms
These are just a sampling of all the real relationships we’ve established within the past year to do the work God has led us to do. Project-wise, we have been focusing on laying foundations to build upon for future growth. First, we established a legal Bahamian Non-Profit organization called Many Hands for Abaco on February 27, 2023. Then, we signed a long-term lease with the Assemblies of God for the use of Camp Abaco for our home base and IMPACT teams.
Meeting with the Bahamian government to create Many Hands for Abaco
Next, we established partnerships to rebuild the Murphy Town Community Center, as this will be our Love-in-Action Center for our outreach into the community. MFI, Crisis Relief, A+ Roofing, and Sol Relief have provided financial resources and personnel support to finish the community center by the end of June. At the same time, we also developed a long-term relationship with the Central Abaco Primary School, the largest elementary school on the island, providing academic recovery programs for struggling students.
Volunteers painting the Murphy Town Center in April
And finally, we’ve been building trust through short-term projects such as small-scale construction for churches, schools, and homeowners, prayer walks through different communities, food distributions for at-risk families, and youth sports programs. We believe we are only scratching the surface of the calling on our work in Abaco and the greater Caribbean.
A church in Abaco after Hurricane Dorian
God has gone before us to prepare the way, and He has met us each time we’ve stepped out in faith. We are encouraged for the future of this region, as our past gives us confidence to boldly move forward!