Oct 12, 2007 – 7:00 AM Grace and peace be unto to all of you. This is Brian Jenkins continuing his missionary journey now to the island of Jamaica in the city of Kingston. I want to begin first by thanking the people who make it possible for us to share the gospel and provide humanitarian relief to people here and around the world; all the partners of Chosen 300 Ministries, the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, The Lilly Endowment, and the Zion Baptist Church of Ambler PA.
I will be blogging my journey on the web site at www.chosen300.org, click on Missions around the world and Jamaica mission emersion. Once again my wife is not here to check my spelling or grammar so it is how it is. My journey begins now.
Yesterday’s travel was long, but we made it here successfully. My day began with a final stop to the Chosen 300 center to print of my messages for the journey, and head to the airport. I had been getting David & Jonathan (My twins) ready for my leaving over the last couple days. They now have an understanding that Daddy & Mommy’s job is to help the people. They still don’t like the idea of us having to leave, but they seam to accept it more. They are only 3 and about to turn 4 while I am away, but they have grabbed hold of the idea that our family has a purpose here. I will get to the trip stuff in a second, but it amazes me we when go to the homeless center and David and Jonathan sit over the ledge of the office down town shaking hands with our homeless guest as they come in the building. They have entered into a world of helping people and if there is anything that we should have as a family, as a church, as a world, is to be commissioned to help people.
My first flight was from Phila to Miami, and I sat right next to a lady with an 8 month old baby on her lap and 2 small toddlers across the isle with her husband. Zavier (the 8 month old was not that bad). I thought I would be challenged by the baby, but his noise was not as loud as David & Jonathan so I was able to get some reading done through the flight. My flight was a little late, so I only had an hour and a half till my next flight from Miami to Montego Bay then to Kingston, so I did an OJ through the airport. Pray for OJ everyone, he needs a touch from God. Anyway I got checked in on time for the Jamaica air flight, and saw some of my fellow Pastors from the last trip. It was a good reunion even though we just saw each other in New Orleans in August. We went over to Chili’s to have our last good supper before we entered into the third world. I savored every bit of that bacon cheeseburger, and fries, expecting the worse from my last experience that my stomach would be destroyed on our journey ahead.
As we proceeded towards our gate, we had a little scare because they changed gates at the last minute. The gate we went to, no one was there, but then after checking the board we found our way. I was in the same row as my buddy Booker from KY and we had a good flight up although the seats were a little tight. We arrived in Montego Bay and I tested my phone to see if it worked and it did. My wife was so glad to hear my voice and I was glad to hear hers. We sat on the runway for about an hour and then had another 20 min flight to Kingston. We made it through customs and sat in the hotel parking lot for a good 40 min because the airport lost a few pieces of luggage. But if you read my first blog from Guyana it was good to see that my shirts did not come out on the conveyer belt separately. We arrived at the hotel about 11:00PM Central time. The hotel was a step up from the Guyana experience. The bed is still cot sized but the rooms were cleaner and you can breathe. I am rooming with Harry again and I am glad we did not have to switch, as long as he can tolerate me being up on the computer at anytime of night when I get the urge to write.
It is 7:30 and I have to get ready for our morning breakfast meeting to get our itinerary for the next few days. Please keep me in your prayers and please continue to support the work of Chosen 300 as you have always done. I will pray the blessing of God be upon you all and the presence of the Holy Spirit abide with you forever.
Saturday October 13, 2007 9:00 AM Yesterday was a settle in day, not a lot to do but had a chance to go and pick up some needed items from the mall. The Jamaica I have seen so far is not as impoverished as my experience in Guyana. Now I know there is poverty here even though I have not seen it. The difference is that in Guyana poverty greeted us at the airport, was waiting for us at the hotel, and was in the city all around us.
The downtown city of Kingston has a working infrastructure with effective businesses and hotels. In the morning we had a briefing session by the group leadership and by our key Kingston host about the itinerary. Towards the evening we attended a Pastors banquet for the one of the Kingston Baptist conventions. I think they had us there to boost up the attendance, but all I can say is was very very very long. Couple of trivia things I learned. Like how many “7s” are there between 1 and 100. I will put the answer in tomorrow’s blog. Ok yes I am now bored. Today work begins, which as many of you know I cannot stand being idle and I look forward to getting into the trenches.
We are moving out of the hotel today and being dispersed to family’s houses throughout Kingston. I am not sure if I am going to be able to have Internet access but we will see how it goes.
Oh the food is ok here, not as bad as Guyana (well it is too soon to really judge). But I have not had anything come out the wrong way – LOL, but I have also been safe.
Jerry Bryant, one of the Pastors that is here with me had a dumpling that he described as a 10 day old biscuit that was doused with water. The thing was harder then a hockey puck and could break a windshield. I survived with some cut up fruit and an order of toast.
I am headed off to a class this morning and then out to my ministry assignment. Once again keep us all in your prayers and thank you for your support.
Saturday October 13, 2007 10:00 PM Today was an eventful day. After breakfast we headed to our morning didactic and process group. The didactic was on integrity. By the way for those are new to this emersion blog there are two parts of the emersion. One is to strengthen Pastors and enhance excellence in their calling and the second is to engage them in a mission emersion. We hit on several issues of integrity today, but it’s definition summed up to be the “sum of a wholeness of a person as well as the courage of one’s conviction to stand by their selves.
We later in our process groups dealt with the family as it relates to the pressure on a family of a Pastor. I admit my family is challenged at times by the amount of work, and although we set aside a day for ourselves, work often tries to creep into that day. Sometimes we will make an exception, but when the exceptions become the rule we have to snap ourselves back. I have come to understand the priority; that God is first, family second and ministry last. However, implementation and understanding often conflict one another. But part of the integrity of our ministry is also maintaining our commitment to our families.
After the process groups we headed to store part of our luggage in a room and headed off to lunch. They had a choice of curry goat and the chicken. I chickened out and go the chicken.
We headed to the Hotel lobby to wait for our host Pastors to arrive. Our team number 6 which was 7 of us were headed to Linstead via bus which was about a 2 hour drive since the main road that was normally taken was flooded. They have had about 2 weeks of consistent rain. All I have to say is that the road up and down the mountain brought me closer to God. I was praying all the way there and about to throw up. I cannot remember a time I was carsick but the Jamaican Road combined with the reckless bus driver almost made me heave. One of my fellow brothers on the bus passed me a bag and I think they were more worried of me tossing than I was.
Sunday, October 13, 2007 5:30 AM We arrived at Pastor Luke Shaw’s house about 4:30 PM and the second Pastor arrived shortly there after. I forgot the other Pastors name. We divided the group up in 2 and 4 of us stayed with Pastor Shaw and the other 3 went with the other Pastor. They gave us a brief history of the parish. It was out of slavery that the people were in the mountain, because the slave owners owned the land in the lower plain but after slavery in the 1800s the people moved to the parishes such as Linstead. The Pastors here work probably 5 times harder than the Pastors in the US. They just don’t have one church, but the Pastors work in a circuit where they have anywhere from 2-5 churches.
Pastor Shaw has 2 churches but then he also oversees others in another circuit. The other Pastor has 4 churches. There is a shortage of Pastors in Jamaica and in the US we have preachers sitting idle. For those just dying to have a church, pick a third world country and you can get a job in no time. I was also impressed that although the shortage they are unwilling to compromise a standard of excellence. In the banquet the other night the speaker said something interesting. That Pastors were the first ones to be called professionals because they were the first ones to profess anything.
In our sharing the gospel, in what we do, in how we conduct the business of the church. There should be a standard of excellence that cannot be compromised. I admit, I have put off my seminary degree long enough and it is time for me to step up and be the professional I should be. I know I have accomplished a lot with what I have, and God uses me, but there are times I feel insufficient knowing that I do not know all I need to.
I know most of you hear me speak from time to time, and not patting my self on the back but I think God brings a pretty good word through me, but he could do so much more if I gave him more to work with.
Ok I am rambling. We sat in the Pastor’s office at his house and broke up the ministry assignments. My first service is at 7:00 AM and the second service is at 10:00 AM at one of his other churches. I was asking the Pastor about the challenges of Jamaica. He mentioned about 21% of the people are illiterate; there is of course the poverty, drugs, homelessness and hunger.
His church is making strives in reaching out to people, but he normally finds that 75% of the church simply attends and 25% actually does the work. He said only imagine if they all got involved what would happen. We have a similar problem in the US. 20% of the people do 80% of the work and also give 80% of the money. But which side are you on. Are you one of the people that are engaged in ministry or are you doing the Otis Reading Thing. Sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the Tide Role Away.
He then took us to the home of Mr. & Mrs. Thompson and her sister has a house right next store. Larry Branch teamed up with me. It is amazing how God works. Larry is the only one so far of the Lott Carey Pastors that joined in with me to provide food in Guyana South America, so he his family.
The Pastor shortly came back with Chicken from KFC. We sat and talked with the Thompson’s till about 8:30. They have a 51-year-old daughter; their son died in Germany in a accident. They have also taken in their niece and nephew. Their parents are still living, but they chose to take their niece and nephew in to give them a better life. One of the things that the Pastor said, that the people who have a little more in their congregation are the people who have went abroad to work and have since retired and came back home. They live off their pension, but survive very well. Others are not so blessed and have very little. This is the story of the Thompson’s. They went to England and have been back some time now.
Their Niece Shanel, is currently in a post high school classes to get grades sufficient enough so she can get into nursing school. Her aunt and uncle bear the burden of getting her through school. Once she completes these classes her next step will be to go to either Kingston Nursing School or the University of the West Indies which will run them about $3500-$4800 a year. The nursing career would then get her a job starting out at approx $500 a month US.
We later talked about the National Hero’s day which is on Monday, I think the best way you can explain it. It is like having a Black History Month in one day with Martin Luther King, Harriet Tutman, Booker T Washington and a few others. They have 6 national hero’s Marcus Gavey , Sam Sharp, Paul Bogle, Norman Manney, Alexander Bustamite, Nanny of the Maroon, George Williams Gordon.
So Monday is a holiday tomorrow, and they are committed to not doing anything on the holiday. What if that day was changed into a National Day of Service similar to what we have for MLK day? I am going to through it out in my sermon today. I will let you know how it goes.
I finally went to sleep, well to bed about 11:00 after I did some typing. But I wish I had a pair of earplugs. There was a nightclub down the street and I think I have heard every Reggae song that is on the top of the charts. The music finally stopped about 3:30 AM and then the dogs jumped in with their tunes backed up by the goats.
I was thinking about that old gospel song, “I woke up early this morning, my heart was beating right on time, and Lord I really thank you for open up these eyes of mine.” This is where the song changes for me. As I walked up to my window and while looking through the shade, there was a Billy Goat, and a barking dog saying thank you Lord for let me see another day. Ok I know I am corny.
I had my morning shower, oh thank God for hot water, when you don’t have it, you appreciate what you have so much more. I will say this was the fastest shower I have ever taken in my life. My wife Shandai would have been proud of me. I made my bed, washed my shaving hairs out the sink but I promise you when I return home I will return to my evil ways.
I talked to Shan this morning and she is doing ok. We miss each other but it is not as bad as last year because we get a chance to talk and do video conferencing.
I am ready for church and waiting for the Pastor to arrive so I am going to run now and finish my toast and coffee. I will talk to you all later today. I am not sure how I am going to get on the Internet but I will load up as soon as I get a chance. Thank you again for all your prayers and support.
Sunday, October 14, 2007 1:00 PM I am back from church and what a blessed experience, at least at one of the churches, the other one was a work out but I woke them up. But let me first talk a little more about Mrs. Johnson and her Sister Mrs. Price. I mentioned earlier about them taken in Shanel and her brother, but they have taken in more then them. They make this a common practice of taking in children, helping them get through high school. They only have one condition; they must obey the rules and if not they send them back and give another child a chance. It cost them about $50,000 Jamaica dollars a year to put a child through high school, but if they did not they would be lost. This is their ministry of helping people. I had a short ride to the 7:00 am service at Linston the church was beautiful; no air-conditioning but very nice. They had about 400 people in attendance. They were more on the conservative side but still involved with the worship.
I tried not to be too much of my radical self but I did stand on top of a pew to give an illustration. I asked the Pastor did I do anything out of order, and he replied after service “you let the spirit lead you.” So I guess that means I did ok but I probably broke a couple rules.
I can tell Brenda the Lott Carey PEP leader was probably raising her eye brows as I elevated myself on the pew, but I got the point of cross and the won’t forget it.
After this we had a light breakfast in the Pastors office and I changed my sweated out shirt to a fresh one. I then traveled in a Van that needed prayer, and roads that just did not have potholes; they had pot ditches and canals in the middle of the road. I am sure between the way there and the way back the van lost part of the transmission. I seen the driver switching gears trying to catch one that worked and I just said God please don’t get me stranded out in the middle of this bush.
As we went along the person who drove me stopped along the road as he saw people walking. A few he did not even know, but he picked them up to help them along their way to a different church than we were going. It showed me that the people here were more kingdom focused, it did not matter if they were from a different church, the only question did some one need a ride and could they help them. I know we have dangers in the US and they have them here in Jamaica. But how many of us would see someone from another church. See a senior on the corner waiting for a bus and help them along the way to make their journey easier. Just an observation.
The second church I went to was Mt Hermon and that church I had to work at. They were real quiet and they almost put me to sleep. I know God used me at both, but it was a work out getting them to wake up. I get more response at our Lutheran and Mennonite churches in our fellowship then this one. But the victory was about 10 people mostly young people gave their life to the Lord and joined the church. In the first service at Linkston there were 3 or 4 (can’t remember sorry).
I am now at the Thompson’s house and they are preparing for our dinner. We have one more service tonight at Linstead at 6:00 PM. Again I have no time for editing so pardon any errors. You just kind of have to interpret it.
Monday, October 15, 2007 9:20 AM Today is National Hero’s day that I mentioned earlier. It seems like the whole country pretty much shuts down. I spoke to you earlier about encouraging National Hero’s Day to become a day of service, but they do have a day such as this. They call it Labor Day. Our Labor Day in the US is our day of kick back and do nothing so I guess we are even. The Pastor at last nights service encouraged everyone to just stay in the bed as long as you can and make it your goal to do nothing. I took him up on the offer and woke up about 8:30. I could have stayed in a little longer but Larry and our host were already up with breakfast ready.
Dinner was good yesterday. I am about 4 days in with no runs so I am doing good. I started out with a small portion so I would not waste anything to make sure I could get it down, and Mrs. Thompson said “Put sum mor food on your plate mon.” I told her I was not that big of a eater “I don’t eat that much” as I added in the back of my head when I am testing the food to see if it will agree with my stomach. They had red beans that they had pick from the yard and lay out on the back porch to dry from the rain. The beans were mixed in the rice. They also had roast beef with gravy that had something called “thyme” that looked like a twig that someone pulled from a tree branch or a weed out back, it had a Jamaican kick to it but it really was good. We had salad with a salad cream dressing (it was made by Heinz) ok someone I knew; as well as a mixed vegetable, not from a can, but fresh carrots and string beans that Shanel cut up. By the way I stood back far because she kept taking with her hands as if she was Italian, but the knife was in it. One think you never stand close to; A black woman with a long blade. Just some free advice.
After dinner we waited around for Pastor Luke to pick us up. Shanel showed me the chickens, the goat, the ground dove birds they had. Mrs. Thompson also was sharing with me that mostly every thing they eat is either grown in their back yard or grown somewhere in Jamaica. Rice and flour has to be imported to Jamaica so they do have it but it often cost more.
Then it started to rain, it has been raining on and off all during the trip. Matter a fact on our way back from church yesterday one of the roads were flooded out and we had to turn around a go another direction. After the rain, I noticed buckets under the edge of the tin roof catching water. Mrs. Thompson said they do this because the water often shuts off at different times of the day, unscheduled. So they store up the water so they can flush the toilet, feed the chickens, … etc.
Pastor Luke picked Larry & I up about 5:55 PM; We went over Linstead Baptist for their National Heritage Celebration. It was more of a fun day evening service. The service started off with some praise songs and then transitioned into some fun. The Pastor asked a few people to name at least 4 people on their row, but not to many people could answer, His goal was to bring out that between the 2 services a lot of people do not know each other, but he had a lot of fun doing it. We then broke up in 3 groups to pray for different situations in the community in the world. I led the group that dealt with broken families and economic stresses of the people. As with Guyana that although the people had the appearance that things were ok, the struggles they faced were challenged beyond what we could understand. I talked to him later about the children, and he said that there are a lot of children in the congregation that can afford the fee to go to high school so they of often don’t go.
They later hand a nativity period where they brought out people dressed in clothing of their heritage. The motto for Jamaica is “Out of Many one people”. Jamaicans are made up of several nationalities, Arawak that are sometimes referred to as the Tainos (which I am not sure how to spell). These were the original people in Jamaica, kind of like the Indians were in America, before Columbus invaded it. In Jamaica’s heritage includes the Portuguese, Spaniards, British, Africans, Indians, Chinese, Syrians, and the Jews. As each one came out to represent one of the cultures, they said the culture and kept the common statement at the end that “I am Jamaican”. At the end one of the teenage boys came out and said I am Jamaican all of these have contributed to who I am and I am trying to find my way. I am Jamaican.
At the end of the service they had some native food for us. First I had a cup of ginger, that stuff was strong. I snuck outside and poured next to the tree. I then tried a cut fish, which was a fried sword fish, just could not get it down so again I snuck out and chucked it over my shoulder while no one was looking. I have done a few chucks since I been here. I got caught once, but it was a small piece of sour fruit that Shanel had convinced me to try.
As we left the church there was a small boy of 13 years old Chal Mikol Williams as he introduced himself, he must have shook my hand about 12 times over the course of the day. He really enjoyed my message, but he seamed to have grabbed my heart. He lived with his mother and father in Kingston and I think they had at least 2 other children. One of the times he shook my hand I asked him his name and he lifted his up with pride and said “I am Chal Mikol” he did not say his last name at that point. I then asked him his age, he lifted his head high again and said “I am 13.” He has the strength of a leader in him. I would love to see what he would turn out to be.
Ironically, when the Pastor was doing the name thing earlier in the service, he asked how many people could name 4 of the 7 PEP Pastors that were visiting that night. He had introduced us earlier in the service. Chal’s mother was the only one that could name 2. But one name she could remember was mine, so I reached out and gave her a hug and thanked her for remembering me.
As we were waiting for Pastor Luke to return to pick up Larry and myself from the church, Chal’s family waited on the step hoping to find a way home, I gave Chal my Chosen 300 hat and he wore it with pride as we took a couple photos together. When the Pastor arrived he asked the family if they needed a ride, and we packed 8 of us in that small compact 4-door car. Really 9 because Larry you can count twice. He is about 6’6.
This morning we came down for breakfast as I prayed that I would be able to get down what they would serve and it was good. They had Frankford chicken sausages with baked beans with fried dumplings. We had a little time to talk and then I spent some time on my blog. Shanel helped me with the names of stuff. She had a composition book that she had wrote a short story in, she said she was going to write a book, but then she decided not to. She seemed to have lost hope for it. I really think that life has created obstacles that she does not think she can conquer. I shared with her that yesterday’s message at the second church I was at was about faith and overcoming obstacles. In Mark 2, there were 4 men who brought a man sick with palsy to Jesus. When they got to the house where Jesus was, the house was packed where they could not go in. The four men took the man up to the roof and uncovered the roof and let the man down. They had to take radical steps of faith so their faith could manifest itself into a miracle. It is one thing to pray and ask God for a miracle, it is another to have faith and take action for your miracle to come about.
I love to share the story about the construction of our building in Center City. We did not have a dime in the bank when we got the property, but God said begin construction so we started making the calls and God supplied the needs and the building was completed.
Anyway, she asked me to read her short story that she started and to let me know what I thought. It was a story about a girl named Sarah who misses her Dad. I mentioned earlier that Shanel’s father was not in her life much. They would have visits but it was not the same. In the story she wrote she writes about a conversation between her and her mother and how she missed her father, but then the missing switched to a guy that her mother did not like which she missed and snuck to see. I am not sure how to interpret the story as just a story she was writing or was part of it a reflection of her desiring to be loved by her father.
Anyway, I have to run now and take a shower to get ready for a Pastoral Process Group.
Monday, October 15, 2007 12:25 PM I just arrived at the Pastor’s house to get on the Internet, but Brenda beat me to it. Prior to coming to the Pastors house, the Thompson’s had a surprise visitor. It was Shanel’s brother that she never met. I have not seen her other brother that was staying with Mrs. Price next door much even when I went next store. I did not get a chance to talk about her experience today but I am sure the Thompson’s will share at dinner tonight. Oh how I long for an Internet cable right now to get on to load this blog so you can read it.
Monday, October 15, 2007 7:30 PM I am turning in for an early night because I have to be out early to go teach at a High School at 7:30 AM. The amazing thing about this we get to say the J word (Jesus) at a high school. Well you know how that goes in the US. They have taken Jesus out of the school and replaced him with handguns, sex and drugs. Anyway we had a good discussion today. The first part of the process group was to review our experience so far, even though it is only day 3 and for me it was finding my disorientation. I think because the Guyana trip was so hard for me and I shed so many tears, and also did a ton of work, I had the expectation of having a similar experience. But my true disorientation was having things different. I did not realize this but this was the result. I admit when they talked about staying in people’s houses, I was a little scarred and prepared myself for the worse, but it was not bad at all. The little inconvenience of not having hot water for a shower and no air-conditioning, was very minimal compared to what I expected. To sum it up my disorientation was really entering in to a place that is better than I expected. Now we still have 3 more stops to make so I can only tell you where I am now. One thing is that I feel my family and I was more prepared for this trip than the last one and have a little more contact then we did before.
One of the things that I thought that would not bother me is that I am going to miss my kids’ birthday. I said before I left that we can just change the day, they are turning 4, and don’t even know what day of the week it is let alone the date. I did not realized I would be bothered by this; but as the day grows closer, I more and more want to be with them. I love my babies, all 3 of them. Ok I know many of you are wondering where the 3rd one is. I was referring to Shannie. I miss her too.
Anyway our didactic for today was on 2 subjects, one was walking worthy in the vocation of our calling, and the second one was do we abuse our power as Pastors. We had some real good discussions. The session allowed us to examine ourselves as Pastors and to see what areas we can improve on in regards to these subjects.
We then had KFC that our host Pastor brought us and we all took turns responding to email and catching up on some work. I want to thank Easy Worship for reducing the price for the Jamaica church we are helping out. I will be going to the church tomorrow to train his staff.
We headed back about 6:00 just before dark to the Thomson’s house where they were determined to feed us more. Larry was hungry, I was fine but I did not want to push their food away so I ate; it was good but I just was not hungry. I don’t think I will loose weight like I did on the last trip. Anyway I have go so I can work on my message for tomorrow morning. I will write again and let you know how it goes.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007 10:00 PM Good Evening everyone. This is the first time I had to chance to sit down and write today. Before I begin today’s events. On the first day of this blog I shared with you a trivial question I learned here in Jamaica but forgot to include the answer. How many 7s are there between 1 & 100? The answer is 20. Now I will let you ponder of this, but I am sure you can figure it out.
Today we started out early about 7:30 AM. I did not get much sleep last night due to the Reggae band playing at the club down the street. We headed off to our mission assignments at the local schools. My stop was the McGraff high school where I had the opportunity to speak to 1291 students during their morning devotion. One it was amazing of the freedom to be able to share the good news of Jesus right at a high school during their morning assembly in the courtyard. As we entered the school we waited in the teachers office area. They have about 20 desks for the teachers in a 200 square foot room that they all operate out of. We then went to the principles office; I spent a lot of time there when I was in middle school; but now I was going for something good; The first thing I noticed was a bible on the desk, in clear view and signs of faith on the walls and indications that the gospel was what was instilled along with their education.
It was then time for the assembly. We went out side and I asked the principle was it ok to snap a picture, even though I had already snapped a few earlier but not with the full crowd. She said yes but then instructed the students to stand up straight for the picture as they circled the courtyard in 2 levels. They began assembly with a song after which I was invited to the podium to speak. I spoke from the story of Joseph in Genesis. When Joseph brothers plotted to kill him they said “ let us slay him and throw him in as pit and see what will be come of his dreams.” My message to them today was “What will become of your dream.” It was amazing 1290 students were at full attention with no one talking except when invited to participate, and when they participated they had fun doing it.
After the message they had their school pledge. The principle said everyone stand at attention. About 95% of the students dropped their hands to their sides right away and stood straight as if they were in the military, she repeated one last time and they all fell into place. I could not get a picture of this because I was afraid myself of moving my hands off my side. The staff at this school has these children in check.
The principle mentioned a student that was rude to a teacher last week. They went in to put a disk in a computer in the middle of another class. The teacher told him it was not his time to use it and he shunned the teacher off. The boy got a 3-day suspension for that. Now they do not have a at home suspension they have an in-school suspension. First they have to wear special clothing showing that they are on suspension. They do attend classes for half the day. The second part of the day they are used to do cleaning in the school. I was amazed at the respect of the students and the discipline of staff to maintain a positive environment for the students despite the lack.
After this we toured the school. Most of the school had no air-conditioning but a few offices. The desk and chairs were in deplorable conditions. We had a chance to see the computer lab, which had about 15 working computers that were matched together from parts. This lab is used to service the entire student body of the 1290 students. Mind you these students do not have computers at home.
The students were anxious to take pictures with us, and thank us for coming. The high school runs from 7th Grade to the 13th grade, which goes up to age 19. As of right now the students have to pay a fee for high school, but the current government is trying to do away with that. The school is hoping that the government will provide enough funds to cover the loss from the fees if it is implemented.
Space is also very limited at the school, the classrooms are over crowded. They even had to use a trailer container, one of those containers that come off the ship. Half of it was used for an office, the other half as a tuck shop for the students (a tuck shop is a little snack shop).
At grade 9 the students choose an area of study such as agriculture, electrical engineering, welding… ext. Once they graduate if they have become unemployable they can return for a skilled labor course such as house keeping or food preparation. This is funded by the government. The people of Jamaica pay a 1% tax to supply the funds for this program. The unemployment rate in Jamaica exceeds 20% and the goal of the program is to get people to work.
Out of the McGraf high school only 10% of students go on to a University or College education.
We continued to visit several class rooms along the way, one of the class rooms had the boys sitting up in the front and the girls sitting in the back. I thought this was a cultural thing, but it wasn’t. The teacher actually did this as a strategy since the boys in her class normally sat in the back and were not focusing.
I left the school feeling like I had a rewarding morning. I just remember shaking hands of each of the kids as they passed by and it just made their day that I took the time to stop. Sometimes the simple things in life make the difference.
We headed back to Pastor Luke’s to get ready for our process group, but some of the group was running behind. Luke took a couple of Pastors over to one of the other schools and dropped me off at his church to train the staff on easy worship.
Oh by the way he picked up some Jamaican beef patties from KFC. I guess the fast food here has to adjust to the culture.
We then took a 2-hour drive up to a mineral bath place to have a rest break. I did not know what to expect because Luke said we did not need bathing suites. When I got there I understood why. They were private stalls that sunk down into the waters below that had a continuous flow of water. It was a natural bath that was designed to relax you and apparently had some “healing elements” While we were there we completed our process group. We dealt with Pastors having the struggle of sharing their difficulties with others, and how to we set up effective channels of accountability.
We had a long drive back due to the traffic and finally arrived about 9:00 PM. We said our final goodbyes to the two host Pastors. Each of us were required by Lott Carey to bring a gift for both the Pastor and host families for hosting us. As in the past I did not want to bring a gift till I found out what the need was. For Luke, I got easy worship for his church and trained his staff. For the Thompson’s because of their big heart for young people in helping them get through school, I gave them a financial gift to use to help Shanel pay for her exams and application fees for Nursing School, as well as help the other kids she helps out. Mrs. Thompson & Mrs. Price (The sisters) told me earlier in our journey that “They were not sure where the money was coming from but they had faith that God would provide.” Mrs. Thompson gave me the biggest hug. I did not know that 70+ year-old women had that much strength in her.
Shanel’s eyes swelled up with tears and her face carried a smile of joy at the same time. She had to thank me about 20 times in 10 min. Just a little help from someone can make the difference with someone having hope and having no hope at all. I saw in her face that night a sense of hope that things were going to come into place. I shared with her earlier this mornings message at the school that she can’t loose faith in her dream.
I headed upstairs to pack and to do some typing, but now it is time to go to sleep as I have to be out the door at 6:30 AM I am looking forward to the day ahead tomorrow.
October 18, 2007 10:30 AM I was kind of drained yesterday so I did not take much time to type but let me catch up. Tuesday night I had a hard time getting to sleep. I stayed up and talked with Larry, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Price & Shanel for a while. Shanel helped me with my blog on names of places and stuff I could not figure out. Then I just could not go to sleep. This was the first night that I did not have the clubs down the street crankin’ it up. But for some reason I became attached to the Thompons. I shared this morning in our group session that The Thompson family reminded me a lot of my own foster mother who took in over 25 children, so I had great affection for their commitment to help young people who would not normally make it, a second chance.
After leaving the Thompson’s we headed to the Baptist Seminary in Jamaica, which is actually more of a interdenominational Seminary with several denominations involved but lead by the Baptist movement. I admit I was worn out from the 4-day sleep deprivation. There was first a chapel service in which I napped through portions of the sermon struggling to stay away. We then had a light snack before a tour of the seminary. I was plastered out on the couch in the student lounge when Brenda came by and woke me up.
I was not that impressed with the tour but it was more for them then us. One of the Pastors said they could have shown us one of the buildings / classrooms and said we have 20 of them.
We then had a didactic with one of the Jamaican representatives. Again I am still at this point no good to anyone and all I want is a 4-hour nap. I sat in the back with my sunglasses on so they could not see my eyes and I do not remember anything he said for the entire 2 hours; so sorry I have nothing to report.
We then went to lunch, which was ok, and then we were supposed to leave out and go to visit one of the largest churches in Jamaica. The tour was canceled due to us being behind schedule and we all sarcastically said, “Darn, we were really looking forward to it.” I think what all of us were looking for was rest and a HOT shower.
I went up to the KFC to get some chicken, and headed back to the room to relax. I spent some time with Shandai online and then dosed off to sleep. This morning I woke up a little late, but the breakfast and meals have not been on time by the hotel since we been here. I think they are not so used to handling a large group.
We had a reflection session of the first part of the emersion and then had a Pastoral didactic on PMS (Power Money & Sex). We are now headed off to a commissioning service to be exposed to how a Pastor gets installed here in Jamaica.
Friday, October 19, 2007 9:00 AM Today is our Sabbath rest, we have one class this morning then the rest of the day we are experiencing the cultural life of Jamaica before heading off to our next mission assignment before heading off to our next assignment.
But lets catch up from yesterday. The commissioning service was absolutely boring, but educational as well. One thing I must say about the services here, It is not like Guyana. Over there we had Church, slam down stoppin’ shoutin church. I think it is because they are a Commonwealth of England; they have been influenced to have a conservative way of worship (I just made up a excuse for them). If there is jammin’ church I would sure like to get there.
I even tried to clap and say amen, but someone turned around and looked at me. I felt like I was in my old church I grew up in. Just a note they have come up to the praise since then in case any of them are reading this. I am amazed about the standard of excellence that Pastors are required to have here in Jamaica. In order to be a Pastor here (particularly in the Jamaica Baptist Union) you must complete school first. When you enter into ministry and you start going to school you become a Student Pastor. After 7 years of schooling you receive an assignment from a church. First you have an initial 2-year probationary period. After the probationary period the Pastor and the congregation make a decision if the relationship is to continue for an official call to be made.
After the call is made there is a commissioning service that is similar to our installation service that we would have in the US, just boring, but I had a sense that their commitment was a lot stronger.
One thing I noticed that they did what was called “A Right Hand Of Fellowship” now we practice this in our churches normally when someone has entered into the life of the church through membership. This could be justified as they are entering into the life of the work of Christ at their local church. But here they were being commissioned just as Paul and Barnabas were commissioned in Galatians, to extend the Gospel to the heathen and to remember the poor. We drive this at our ministry that the purpose of the church is to share the Gospel and help the poor. The evening speaker was good, just very long. We backed him up as long as we could. I was thinking in my mind “Bring It Home Preacher,” but then my thoughts accidentally slipped out my mouth. I guess he understood the language because he brought it to a close. Sorry he was beyond a hour, I guess us backing him up made him go longer. When I preach if you don’t say AMEN when I preach, I think you don’t get it so I go a little longer.
After service we boarded the bus and headed out to go to the hotel. One problem the church did not have a parking lot and the bus had pulled into the muddy grass. Ok you know what happens next. The bus got stuck in the mud with all of us on it. So we all had to get out of the bus stepping into the sinking mud. There were 2 ladies on the bus in heals and I let one jump on my back so I could carry her to dry ground. I found out later I actually preached at her church on Sunday (Mt Hermon). She was not there because she has 5 churches and she rotates each Sunday and doubles up on 2 one week. The rest of the weeks lay ministers preach, or a lay minister is sent from Pastor Luke’s circuit which has congregations with more resources, both human resources and economic. Now although the Pastors only preach at each church about once a month they still are responsible for the care for the people of all 5 congregations. They have a shortage of Pastors here in Jamaica, and the reason for the shortage is that their standards are high. I admit if I was here in Jamaica without my MDIV, I would not qualify.
Anyway back to the mud. The other male Pastors on the bus, got in the front of the bus and began to push. I was not involved in the pushing; I only handled the carrying of the Pastor to safety. I guess I took literally the idea of helping to partner and carry some of the load of the Pastors.
We made it back to the hotel, I looked at my shoes and all I have to say is that I need a serious shoe shine. After changing 7 of us took a cab down to the Hilton, one of the nice hotels that we did not get to stay in; and stopped to have dinner. We shared in our experiences that we had here and in Guyana. I know we are not supposed to compare but it is only human to do so.
We arrived back late to the hotel and we went up to play spades, and for those that think that Christians should not play cards, too bad. I did loose because my partner bided to high the first round and it set us behind for the entire game.
I began to think about my experience with the Thompson family and the warm welcome and kindness I received from them, besides the cold showers and the lack of air conditioning I will miss them, and I’ll never forget my time in their home.
This morning I began my day with talking with my family, I missed my video conferencing time with them last night, but it was good to hear their voice this morning. David said to me to “hurry back home.” Even though they know I am here for a purpose the all miss me and I miss them 2.
Right now I am in a class paying half attention to the instructors and also paying attention to my blog.
Saturday, October 19, 2007 7:00 AM Yesterday was a very long day. It was supposed to be a Sabbath, and I did mess around the first part of the day. Some of the Pastors went on a trip to the Crafts Market and to eat some fish with the head still on it. Just was not my cup of tea. I reached out to the family of Charl Michal. The l3 year old boy who shook my hand about 12-15 times and just really made me feel welcome at the church. I know a lot of people told me they enjoyed my message, but when he said it for some reason it was worth so much more.
I was able to reach his parents and coordinated with his older sister about obtaining a bike for him.
Before leaving, I gave all my information to Tracy one of the other Pastors here, She had the address where I was going, my cab drivers bus card and cell number. I made checks in with her all along the way and the return so someone knew I was ok. My driver took me first to a place near the hotel and they wanted $22,000 for the bike, which was about $325 American dollars. Ok I liked the kid, but needed a better deal. The driver then took me into the center of Kingston. I admit I was a little nervous at first and scared, but he eased my mind that he will make sure I was ok. David (The driver) took me to a bike shop and we were able to get a bike for $5700, which is about $80 US.
The transaction was not that easy. He had to argue with them about getting the floor model that was put together already instead of getting one in the box, because I was not sure if the boy’s father had tools. This took about a half hour as the store closed.
Once they gave in we went to pay the bill through a slot in the wall. There is no way someone could rob this place. We then journeyed out to Linstead where the boy lived. That was the longest drive ever. It normally takes about 1 hour and ˝ to get there but due to the traffic it took over 3 hours. Me nor the cab driver was sure how to get there so we swung by the Thompsons and Shanel showed us the way to the church a few blocks away were we met Charl’s sister. She hopped in with us and guided us to the house.
His mother and father knew about the bike but he didn’t. If you could have seen the look on his face as it lit up in surprise. He was actually a little upset before I got there because he wanted to go to church but was told to wait because someone was coming to see him. When he found out it was me, even before he saw the bike he was ecstatic. We swung by the church and dropped him and his sister off and then hit a KFC, both the driver and me were hungry and I brought some chicken for the Thompsons as well. We stopped back at the Thompsons and I promised Mrs. Price the other sister that I would send a hug back to Larry for her.
I was glad I had one more chance to see them. The drive back home was not as bad. It took the one hour and fifteen min it should have. I got back real late, it had to be about 11:00 PM. I stopped in the restaurant, and then checked back with Tracy, my roommate and the Thompsons to let them know I had arrived back safe. I then went to pack and headed off to sleep.
We are about to leave in a little while and I will continue to update you. I am just not sure how much Internet access we will have for this second part of the trip.
Saturday, October 20, 2007 11:00 AM We are just pulling out on the bus headed St Ann & Salem to partner up with additional Pastors and host families. Lets back up to yesterday for a moment. I did have the chance to ride through the “ghettos” of Kingston as David described them. I won’t have any pictures as the cab driver recommended that I do not take any since we were in stand still traffic. Someone may notice and realize I was a guest in their land. I looked on the faces of some of the people and saw a sign of hopelessness. I am still challenged that we did not have the opportunity to do more in the inter-city, but it was explained that having us stay at homes in the inter-city might have put our lives in potential danger.
We were supposed to leave in the busses at 9:00 AM, but they had a little trouble with the luggage coordination since our luggage was going in 3 different destinations. I will give you more updates as the trip progresses.
Saturday, October 20, 2007 9:00 PM We just arrived at our host family’s house outside of Montego Bay. I want to give you a update from earlier. We have 2 groups; part us went to St Ann and my group went to the Montego Bay area. On the way we stopped at Ocha Rios for lunch then continued our journey to drop the bulk of our luggage off at the hotel we will be staying at for the last 2 days of our trip. We then journeyed to the church where they had dinner prepared for us. I had the opportunity to speak with Pastor Brown on the services he provided for the church and the community. He has a feeding program that provides food for 50 people and of course I thought of expansion right away. Thinking of a way we can help a church. He has 2 churches; one of the churches needs a stove and a refrigerator to get the program running at the second church. They also need support to help provide assistance to those in need of medical care. We headed off to our host families house. There were 4 of us and they had 3 services tomorrow so I yielded up the service to Larry Branch since we were going to a church together. I am sharing a room with Larry and since I tease him about being older, I gave him the big bed and took the cot.
Sunday, October 21, 2007 7:30 AM
I had a tough time sleeping last night.I was attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes, half sleep trying to put some bug repellent on I had the spray turn the wrong way and shot some right in my mouth and eyes.I do not know which was worse the sting in my eye or the taste of bug spray.By the way if you ever wanted to know what bug spray taste like, don’t try it, trust me it is not a good experience.I laid back down but quickly awoken by the unstableness of my stomach and sat on the thrown for a while.I think I finally got back to sleep about 2:AM and woke up about 7:00 AM.I went into the bathroom to shower and the hot water nob was missing,I managed to get it on by the rare possibility there was hot water, but then I was given the clear revelation by no change in temperature that the knob was missing for a reason.
I looked behind their computer that sat in the front room of their house and there was a network cable.Oh how wonderful it was to see.We I have 2 hours before the host pastor picks us up for church.I just got off the phone with Shandai and she made my day better.She told me about one of our guest at our center who was going through a real struggle, but when he heard my voice on Wed night it encouraged them.I am going to go for now, but I will stop in again later. Sunday, October 21, 2007 10:00 PM
I have just arrived back from a long day of ministry.This was first full day of ministry in this part of Jamaica.We are about 10-15 miles outside of Montego Bay.It is amazing that the tourist area is growing rapidly, but surrounded by the white sandy beaches and resorts are the impoverished people of Jamaica.
Our housing is a little challenging and the cot I am sleeping is smaller than the one at the hotel and my feet are about 8 in off the end of the bed; but I am surviving.One good thing they have Internet service and those that know me,I could be sleeping a chair for all I care as long as I have my high speed.This morning when we woke up. Our host; the lady that was housing us was headed to the beach for her morning swim.She left a note on the table, hot water is made for coffee, juice is on the fridge and help yourself to anything you need.
Pastor Brown picked us up at 9:30 to head to his house for morning breakfast, we had Honey Bunches of Oats, eggs and sausages.The milk for the cereal was a little sweet, but they said their 100% milk is just that is what comes out of the cow, nothing added and nothing taken away.I think our milk is processed a little and I know they say nothing is added, but anytime you can leave milk on the shelf for 14 days something is added.
It was about to turn 10:00 here and 11:00 in Philadelphia, so I called into Chosen 300 as I did on Wed. night to extend the invitation for people to give their lives to Jesus and shared a brief mention of the mission work here in Jamaica.Now they had me on hold for a little while and I said that as soon as I stuff something in my mouth they are going t say go.Sure enough I took a bite of my breakfast sandwhich, so I had to wind up letting it back out on my plate.After the invitation I had Pastor Oneil get on the phone to give the benediction. Some people would think this was a waste of time to call in to my church; however I was talking to my wife this morning and she said that there was one of our homeless guest that came in on Wed, really going through but when he heard his pastor’s voice over the sound system it made his day.I know I am nothing of my own and it is God’s spirit that gives me this relationship I have as pastor to a people, but I thank God he has used me to impact lives in Philadelphia and around the world.
Pastor Oniel then took us over to Hopewell Baptist, which is the larger of his two churches.His church sits about 500 yards from the ocean and has these 2 doors that swing open from the side and large windows as well that lets the cool ocean breeze give comfort to those who worship there.It is like being a spiritual oasis.Booker was preaching there at the 11:00 service and our group leader was scheduled to speak at the 7:00 service there.
As we arrived there were about 8 guys down the street from the church in shorts, T-shirts, and some had no shirt at all.I grabbed Booker to go with me since he was preaching there to invite them to come to church.They could not go because they had a foot ball game (socker).We gathered them in a circle and prayed for them that the game would be safe and God would give them favor.They all said thank you and one guys said this will carry them through the day.At the end he said “respect” as he extended a forward pound fist and I extended mine to connect my hand with his.Another man did this to me in the market in Ocha Rios on the way here.I was walking by his stand and there was a man carving his statue.He asked me did I want to look and I said no just browsing around.He replied you can at least come and appreciate his work and at the end of our conversation he said “thank you” extended his fist for a forward pound and as I connected he said “Respect”It seams as if by me respecting him he was respecting me causing us to have a moment of harmony instead of a moment of conflict.
It does not take a lot to have peace in our communities in our country and in our world, but what it takes is for people to respect one another regardless if you agree with them or they agree with you it is about respect.In the word of Aretha Franklin “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, just a little bit”
Larry and I were assigned to the Cacoon Castle church in Hanover Jamaica in the mountain.Now Larry was scheduled to preach this service and since we did not have enough places to speak, I yielded up my spot to the other guys even though I did not want to.I just love preaching, and just a note any preacher that does not love to preach, get out while you can.
Anyway, Larry was scheduled to preach but he left his sermon at our host house.He asked me could I handle the message.I am not sure if he felt that I really wanted to serve and was being nice or if it was God’s will that I speak, but it was God’s will.I spoke on “What do you have to give”A lot of us focus on what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we do have.The pastors said this was the message that his people needed.The church only has about 25 people and all of them live in extreme poverty.The total monthly collections for the church is about $30 a month so the pastor survives solely off of what the other church can provide.Now he is one of the more fortunate pastors, some circuits all the churches a pastor leads financially struggle, but for the ones who have a large church that can provide basic support, they also have at least one that can’t.
As we arrived at the church the main sanctuary was an old structure with a Tin roof and cement floors.The wires with bulb sockets wrapped around the beams that stretched across the sanctuary.I then saw the pastor standing on a pew to wire the speaker to the sound system.They have to put the sound system together each week because of potential theft.One of the things I noticed in each church is that the speakers are encaged in steal bars to insure they do not grow legs.
Next to the church they have begun the cement structure to build rooms for Sunday school, church office and bathroom facilities.With the revenues they receive you can imagine that a building project takes a very long time here.I saw where the structure had begin to form, but inside of the cement structure there were large plants growing indicating it had been sitting for a while.
I am not sure if any partnership will be developed out of Pastor Shaws church.I suggested a few things, but I did not see a targeted area to help or where a long term partnership was being embraced.I know the easy worship helped them and I got a call from my host family the Thompsons that the Pastor announced that we had sponsored them with this.
I have a good feeling about Pastor Brown,I told him last night that when we get to the mission convention, I want to sit down and have a lunch with him so we can brainstorm on what is the best direction to take in providing help to his people at the Cacoon church primarily, but also the Hopewell congregation.
We headed back to the church to meet Booker and Brenda,I told them that Larry set me up, but I recommended that Brenda yield the evening service to Larry.I wanted to make sure Larry got a chance to speak and I figured that Brenda could sacrifice this as a group leader and she did. Larry did a outstanding job.
Anyway after we picked up Brenda & Booker we headed over to an orphanage, which was run by a women’s Baptist group.There were about 20 kids that I saw but I understand there were more.I took a picture of them having their meal and we went into another room where they had dinner set up for us before our afternoon meeting.I am hoping that we can get back there to minister to them. Monday, October 22, 2007 4:30 PM
I am a little behind so let me catch up.After dinner we headed back to our host family to get a brief rest before the 7:00 service.The seven o’clock service was based around missions.Each of us had the opportunity to share about the various ministries of our church.The work of Chosen 300 gave the church hope, that beginning a ministry with 40 cents and God progressing our work to the level it is showed them that they had potential to be effective in the work of missions.Larry gave the evening message on “Transforming the kingdoms of this world and the people of this world into the kingdom and people of God.”
After this we walked around the corner back to our host families house.I had some time to talk to my wife Shandai via video conferencing and it really helps out a lot.
This morning was a new day. We started out by going to the area schools to share the Gospel.It almost sounds strange.We dropped Booker and Brenda at the Jr. high school and Larry and I went to the Bethel High School.This school was a lot better than the school we went to last week.It was just build about a year ago.The government here in Jamaica is trying to improve the schools system.Pastor Oneil informed us about the history of the schools that explains the practice of holding morning devotions.About 30-40 years ago the schools were ran by the church.The people would pay the school fees to the church and the church would pay the salaries for the teachers.In turn the devotional make up was already in place.
Now the respect level was not the same at this school as the last one, but the principles were still in place.Pastor Oneil indicated that because the school is new, teachers are new and staff is new it is hard to get a mass of respect right away.In the other school the standard of respect has been indoctrinated from the 7th grade and as they come in and move up in grades the respect has already been developed.
Like before the students surrounded the courtyard on both sides and on both levels.They had students on the keyboard, drums and guitar as the school lifted their voices in song.Larry opened up with scripture and then I gave the morning message.I talked about David a man after God’s own heart.I gave an illustration about David who pursued to do God’s will in all that he did.I had Pastor Oneil and Larry participate.Pastor Oniel was the heart of God.Larry’s job was to chase after him.The focus of the message was to go after the plan and purpose that God had for their lives.Then the presence of God came in the courtyard and I did something I never did before; I gave a invitation for people to give their lives to Jesus in a High School Assembly.There were about 30 young people that raised their hands to make a decision to give their lives to Jesus.I had them recite the sinner’s prayer giving their commitment to follow Jesus.As I turned the mic back into the hands of the principle, I lifted my hands and prayed for them.I know they will have many devotions and many powerful moments in their lives, but I believe that the spirit of God touched each of them this day that will impact their lives for the rest of their days.
On the way out there was a thought of the day on the wall for the teachers as they came into work.Today’s thought was “Its been said that if you like what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.What is your attitude to your job or daily work.”One thing I can say is that I really enjoy what I do.
As we pulled out of the drive way, we saw other kids in school uniforms outside of the gate.Some having their hands on the bars trying to get in.I asked the Pastor why were they were standing outside the gate.It was because they were late.They would eventually get in, but here school is a privilege and showing up for school late is not acceptable.
We then went for breakfast and had some good discussion.I snuck the bill from the waitress so our guest pastor would not have to pay.I did let him know that we really appreciated the opportunities that he has extended to us and it was more than my honor to take care of his breakfast and I am really glad he received it in the spirit it was given.I did not want to offend him as our host.
We later traveled to an elementary school in Cacoon.This school was a site of desperation my eyes were swelling up when I saw the entire school was only about 4000 square feet of space.With the main teaching room divided in 4 by black boards.To be born in the USA is a blessing,yet these children are deprived and they don’t even know it.Each of us took some time to share to the students I was third and Booker led me off perfectly.He talked about Muhammad Ali, and I stepped in with Ali always indicating that he was the greatest.I then had the children shout “I AM THE GREATEST”then I had a flash back from day camp in Ardmore.Thank you Morris Moseley for this one.I had them repeat our morning chant that we did. “I am somebody special, I am so smart I can do annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnything.”
We then headed back to the children’s home we were at yesterday to drop the rest of the pastors off.I went with Pastor Oneil to the airport to pick up the President of Lott Carey, Dr. Keith Troy.I took this opportunity to talk about potential partnership.I shared with him about the program in Guyana South America we started (Marina’s Hope Food Distribution),I explained to him that the program provides 4 items to 40 families each month including rice, peas, flour and dry milk.Half of the food is used for the members in the congregation.The other half is used for the people in the community to develop a evangelistic effort.
He mentioned that there was another church that was down the road with that he could share the food with.I told him I know that this will sound strange, but I needed him to be selfish in this area so the program will have a full impact on his church.Don’t judge yet there is a point it this.The other food is to target families in the community that were unbelievers, which will also provide an evangelistic effort for the church.I did let him know that as we got more pastors involved from the US we will be able to add more churches, but to effectively manage the project and to make it have maximum impact on his church at Cacoon.Once he had a better understanding of the project he agreed how this would work better.
It took a while for Keith Troy to get through customs so I indulged in 2 Jamaican beef patties. Once he arrived we traveled back to the children’s home where we were holding our process group.We had a discussion on how the program has impacted our ministries.I can’t share what other people said because we have a confidentiality clause, but I shared about how when we see the homeless people in our ministry we now see more hope for them because of the massive opportunities that are available in the US.There are times we look at people and do not think there is any hope, but when we see other people making it with so much less, it gives me hope for them.
We later talked about the affects of the pastoral role on the family and the challenges we face.I will talk about the rest of the day later but it is after 11:00 and I have been typing this on and off all day when I could, so I will stop in tomorrow to share again. Friday, October 26, 2007 4:00 AM It is departure day and I have not written in a few days, but I have some time at the airport to kill so this is good opportunity.Let’s start we Tuesday afternoon.We began Tuesday by visiting another school; Larry shared the Gospel that morning followed by morning breakfast.After breakfast the Pastor took us into downtown Hanover; he pulled the car in front of a store and had us get out.Was not sure what this ministry opportunity was, but as I looked to far corner there were picket signs being held in the air.Elections were just over, but there was a conflict about one of the local seats of office that people were protesting.As we exited the car he said this is a ministry exercise in doing one-on-one evangelism in the Jamaican context.We walked up and down the 1/8 mile strip of about 100 people sharing the Gospel individually.One older lady getting her braids done down a back ally asked could she get in my suitcase and come back to the United States.I told her if I can put on the side of the bag “person inside” and she can get though customs, than sure. (as I smiled full of sarcasm).As we proceed down the block one lady gave her life to Jesus, so I had the pastor come to her and take down some information to contact her.
Then the host pastor’s son had an emergency at school.He had an allergic reaction and he had to get him to the hospital.So we shot out of there and he dropped us off at the children’s home for our afternoon meeting.By the way his son is perfectly fine.
After our meeting we headed back to our host house and then the pastor met us to take us for Pizza at Pizza Hut.He told the people not to put onions on the pizza but they did anyway so they provided a medium Pepperoni at no cost.I was kind of glad that they messed up because if anyone knows me, vegetables are not supposed to go on the Pizza.My wife thinks meat should not go on there.So when we order at home I order all the meat on my side and all the veggies on hers.Anyway I consumed the whole Pizza,I was kind of hungry.We had a service at 7:00 PM but it was cancelled due to the heavy rains.
The next morning we went to a public beach for some morning relaxation.The water was so clean and warm.Oneil informed us that the sun heats the sand during the day and holds on to it.When the tide comes in at night it pulls the sand and heats the water for the next morning.There were no waves just a calm flow of water.This was relaxing.We then headed for a last breakfast before we left the Hopewell area.The last 2 mornings I stole the bill from the pastor, but today he went ahead and snuck the waitress the money ahead of time.I felt a little weird of not offering to pay when there were 4 of us and one of him.The 2 previous days the bill came to $21 US dollars for 5 people,I was thinking in the US we normally pay $21 for one or two people.
We headed back to our host family to finish up our packing and prepare to departure for our last two days at Montego Bay.The Jamaica Baptist Union was holding their Annual Missions Conference and this was the last leg of our trip.President Troy of Lott Carey was giving the evening address.Now I had full intentions of making the service that night.They told us it would start at 7:00 PM but I also found out from Pastor Oneil that in Jamaica that “time is a suggestion and not a fact.”I was headed up the steps and one of the fellow pastors said that no one was up there but a few people and they were just playing music.I decided that maybe I could lay down for about an hour and then get there in time for the message.Understand I was beat; I had been sleeping on a cot size bed for a week and had not much sleep in the last two weeks.The bed at the Holiday Inn wrapped its arms around me and held me tight.It just would not let me go.When I woke up from the nap it was 9:42.I rushed downstairs hoping I did not miss Keith’s message but the service was already over.The one time I needed them to go longer they decided to be short.I guess even they wanted to enjoy the resort.
The next day was a day to just relax and reflect on the trip.I had some time to enjoy the beach and also attend one of the workshop sessions at the convention.One of the guest speakers was Philadelphia’s own Mayor W Wilson Goode.He shared on the Amachi project and the plight of children of incarcerated persons.You know we spend a lot of time ministering to those that are in prison but we often forget about the people who have been left behind.He mentioned in his presentation that 70% that’s 7 out of 10 children who have a parent in prison later become incarcerated themselves.There are over 10.7 million children in the United States and 10,000 children in Jamaica that have a parent that is in jail.So out of the 10.7 million children over 700,000 of them will wind up in prison.The Amachi project is a mentoring model similar to Big Brothers & Big Sisters of America.He stressed that if 1 adult would help 1 child, for 1 hour a week, for one year it could tremendously curtail the epidemic of children who are destined for incarceration.
I was asked by Mayor Goode to represent him in the General Session of the convention and to speak on the highlights of the workshop and it was a great honor.
At dinner I had a chance to chat with Pastor Oniel, another pastor from Jamaica and a 3rd pastor from NJ.They were sharing about the goals of planting an additional church.He mentioned about the middle to upper class in Jamaica and that would be a person that is making about $25,000 US a year.Most pastors in Jamaica do not even make our minimum wage in the United States.
We then headed for our final session in which we extended thanks to the JBU staff as well as the Lott Carey staff. I thank God I had the opportunity to share this experience.Once again I want to extend a word of thanks to all the Chosen 300 Partners & Contributors,The Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, The Lilly Endowment, The Zion Baptist Church of Ambler,Our host families in Linstead & Hopewell and the Pastors of the Jamacia Baptist Union for making this trip a successful one.
Brian At Linstead Bapt For National Heros Day
Brian With Jamaican Boy who appreciated his message 12 times
Evadne Prepairs Meal For Us
Scholarship Recipient Receives Gift From Chosen 300 for Year End Exams
Young People At Mt Hermon Baptist Church
Linstead Baptist Church - Jamaica
Brian With Host Pastor Luke Shaw Of Linstead Baptist
Brian with Pastor Tracy From New Jersey at Banquet in Jamaica