‘Raising Strong Boys & Repairing Broken Men’ – God’s Men Speak

Raising Strong Boys and Repairing Broken Men is the timely theme for the June | Father’s Day Edition of Family and Faith Magazine. Shorter than the previous documentary at 22 minutes, the June edition features impactful Christian men and their testimonies of faith, fatherhood and restoration. They include: Altano Morgan, manufacturer of ICAN; Robert Dixon, Principal of Operation Restoration Christian School and Dr. Wayne Henry, Economist and Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica. The documentary also connects with three promising young boys – Israel Redwood, Seth Ridgard and Luke Ridgard.

In keeping with the theme, the documentary, which is sponsored by the Jamaica Broilers Group, provides godly advice on raising strong boys.

Principal, Robert Dixon asserts that, “Children spell love – T-I-M-E. We have to spend time with our children. For both my son and the children at school I see my life as a foundation for these students.” The young principal advances that, “For my son, yes his foundation, his identity is linked to me to who I am and to who I am in Christ but for my students who have no other foundation who probably don’t know their father, can I be that foundation for them? Can I be so secure in myself that they can build their life on who I am and what I stand for?”

For his part, Dr. Wayne Henry points to three strategies for growing strong boys. First, he says it’s important “to be present, to be alongside, to be near.” Then, “There must be instruction and advice. Solomon, he said listen to my advice son, heed my warning and you will prosper.” His third nugget of wisdom is the need to show boys lessons and principles by example. “A lot of times we are too willing to say do as I say and not as I do and there is a key of leadership that we miss where Paul says follow me as I follow Christ .We don’t invite people to follow us ..part of leadership part of mentoring is that you have to be that example …the willingness to put on display even with your mistakes and your flaws that example,” the father of 3 insists.

Manufacturer and motivational speaker, Altano Morgan adds that the key to raising a strong boy is teaching him that there is a God, a Father who loves him despite the challenges he comes across in life. “There is a father there that will take care of him. There is a father there that wants the best for him. Even as an earthy father you are not going to be there every time to guide him and to teach him and all the different things but when you tell him about the Father up above who is looking down with his tender love, showing you, guiding you, directing you, that’s the fundamental foundation for me for raising a strong boy,” Morgan declares.

The uplifting documentary also looks at how to repair broken men, the most admired men in their lives and features what young boys love most about their dads.

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President and Founder of Family and Faith Magazine, Shelly-Ann Harris feels turning the spotlight on boys and men is vital at this time. “The data is showing us that in many ways we are failing our boys and so we felt it was very important to focus on how to raise boys and restore broken men for our Father’s Day Edition, which balances our recent focus on women in the Easter Edition that was released a couple months ago,” Harris explains. “We remain thankful to our loyal sponsor, the Jamaica Broilers Group, who has supported us on this journey of sharing impactful testimonies of faith that can serve to strengthen family life,” she adds.

Viewers can watch the documentary here: https://youtu.be/aoZw0-UfXKw

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The ‘Beautiful View’ – Celebrating God’s Helpers at Bellevue Hospital

Ask the ordinary Jamaican what comes to mind when you say the word, Bellevue, and typically they offer references to a ‘madhouse’, or a place where you get a tin of milk in exchange for carrying in a mentally unstable relative.

But the French word actually means ‘beautiful view,’ and that is certainly the approach Bellevue Hospital’s dedicated social workers have adopted when it comes to serving those in their care. They are indeed God’s helpers who work tirelessly towards creating a ‘beautiful life’ for persons living with a mental illness by reconnecting them to their family as well as community and government services.

Now, in celebration of Social Work Month, Family and Faith Magazine in partnership with the Jamaica Broilers Group is pleased to highlight the high calling of the dedicated social workers at Bellevue Hospital.

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Dedicated social workers at Bellevue Hospital

“I didn’t choose social work, it chose me,” emphasized Mrs. Alleen Smith-Roberts, Medical Social Worker at Bellevue Hospital when asked why she chose the profession, adding that she finds great joy in helping persons with a mental illness to reconnect with their family. “You find that you have lots of persons in our society who are unable to ‘connect’, they are just existing, they are not sure where’s their place and as social workers we help persons to get there,” Mrs. Smith-Roberts explained with conviction.

In addition to ‘finding their place,’ helping clients to secure and maintain employment and access key government services, are other vital goals for social workers. After over twenty-four years in the profession, Barbara McKoy knows quite a bit about human behaviour. She told Family and Faith Magazine that “anyone can become mentally ill; it is not a respecter of persons,” pointing out, for example, that sometimes financial pressure can be traumatic for patients.

“I have a case of a gentleman who was separated from his family. He came into the hospital. He was really a terror to his family. His children didn’t want to have anything to do with him; his wife didn’t want to have anything to do with him because he was so terrible and I was able to assist him with getting his pension and it sort of brought him around because basically his traumatic conditions were brought about by the fact that he doesn’t have the money to spend. So he was really giving everybody a hard time and since he was able to get that pension I haven’t seen him being admitted for a while; he takes his medication, he calls me regularly to keep me updated on what is happening and he seems to be getting on well with his family,” she recounted, smiling.

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Aside from providing this type of ongoing support, for the past 3 years during social work month, the Bellevue social workers, treat patients with special Care Packages filled with personal items, toiletries, non-perishable food and The Best Dressed Chicken from the Jamaica Broilers Group. The company’s Group Public Relations Programmes Officer, Danah Cameron, explained why they were happy to partner with the social workers at Bellevue. “To us [the work they do] emulates who Christ is in such a magnificent way, they truly give of themselves, they speak of their patients as if they are speaking of family, they have such a heart, such a warmth towards these people, it really is moving.”

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Of course, both patients and social workers are also quite moved by the heartfelt gesture of kindness from their sponsors. “Our patients were more than excited and appreciative to get that extra nugget in their bag, so we thank our sponsors for their help each year and those who came on board with us to make this month an extra special month, not just for us but our patients, because its gives us great joy in giving back,” remarked Mrs. Smith-Roberts.

Senior Social Worker, Jessica Tyghter-Shaw also expressed gratitude to the Jamaica Broilers Group not only for the goodies provided, but also for their heart for community. “We appreciate your assistance, we appreciate you coming out of your offices and coming on the road and interacting with the people and showing that love and genuineness for the people.”

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Other notable sponsors that supported the initiative include Jamaica Biscuit Company, Cals, Lasco and Jamaica Baking Company.

In addition to the efforts of social workers and sponsors, family and friends have an important role to play in creating a better, beautiful life for patients. In fact, their support is key to ensuring that persons with mental illness stay well.

“Oftentimes the first thing that happens when somebody has a mental illness is that families are nowhere to be found, friends are nowhere to be found and so it is really them against this whole big wide world. So, I am encouraging persons, still be a part of their lives, they need you, they need us, they need a family, they need a friend, they need persons around them,” insisted Mrs. Tyghter-Shaw.

“A lot of them are out there and they are being treated in such manner they run come back to Bellevue when Bellevue don’t have the space for them. They probably don’t need to be hospitalized but because they are running away from the treatment in their community they come to Bellevue for refuge,” Miss McKoy lamented. Echoing this sentiment, Mrs. Robert-Smith urges communities not to ostracize them. “No man is an island, the more support that individual has, the better. The propensity of them staying well is greater with more support,” she admonished.

When families fail to play their role however, social workers become the extended family for persons living with a mental illness, which of course requires an added measure of grace. It is therefore no surprise that Mrs. Tyghter-Shaw is keen to declare that she gets her strength from God – “He is the great Teacher, He is the one that taught us how to do social work, He is the best social worker,” she declared with passion.

Her faith certainly mirrors the Jamaica Broilers’ motivation for serving the community. “At our core we are a poultry company, we focus on agribusiness, we are vertically integrated. I could talk on and on about that, but what we want Jamaica to know is that the heart; at the core, we believe in Jesus Christ, we believe in His mission, and His mission becomes our mission in terms of how we serve our community. Our partnership with Bellevue Hospital in going out into the community has helped us to exemplify that,” Mrs. Cameron declared.

No doubt the partnership of families, communities and good corporate citizens, will continue to assist Bellevue in creating a more beautiful life for persons living with a mental illness.

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

Pregnant at 16 and still in Church

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When her teenage daughter became pregnant, what could have turned into a mother’s utter shame, guilt and disgrace turned into a story of Christ’s love, redemption and power through her church. 

by Family and Faith Magazine writer, Ensebe Akunta

“I started to realize that I was looking for love in the wrong places and that the kind of love I really wanted was from my father,” Amanda* confessed. Her father had paid her scant regard throughout her life. He was not married to her mother and they did not relate well when she was growing up.

Amanda’s family circumstances are not unusual. In 2007, Jamaica had 35,344 live births out of wedlock, a little more than the capacity of Jamaica’s National Stadium.   But things are changing for better because according to the January to September 2017 Provisional Birth Statistics from the Registrar General’s Department, this number was reduced to 20,238.

Under the law, Amanda is not yet a woman but is legally allowed to engage in sexual intercourse.  At 16, she was taken out of a house by the police after she had changed out of her school uniform in a back alley and gone to visit her boyfriend.  This 19-year-old man had completed school, had no job and lived on his own with financial support from his sister and his mother who lived abroad.  The police took both Amanda and her boyfriend to the station and called the girl’s mother, Dawn*.

Dawn is a Christian who volunteers regularly at her church. Dawn said that Amanda had gotten baptized at 11-years-old and often served with her in the church. The single mother said that a few weeks after the police station incident, she bought a pregnancy test kit.  Amanda’s results were positive.

“I went into mourning,” Dawn revealed as her face took on a more serious look.  “I told  Amanda, don’t ask me any questions or expect me to make any decisions about punishment or anything for three days. Because I had been reading and meditating on 1 Samuel 16 where God asked Samuel how long he would mourn for Saul. And God was teaching me that it’s okay and it’s healthy to mourn for a time. If you don’t allow yourself to do that you’ll mourn in an unhealthy way probably the rest of your life and don’t even recognize that anger and bitterness with people is just you mourning something that happened long ago,” Dawn reasoned.

She explained that she took that time to fully feel her anger, shame, disappointment, frustration, hurt and every other emotion that came with the news. After three days, she made up her mind to move forward and shared the news with her Pastor.

Of course, the issue of sexual immorality in the church had also been the focus of national attention during the same period of time, with social media confessions from known personalities and allegations and arrests of church leaders. Like the current slew of Hollywood sex scandals, it seemed to be something ‘everyone knows about but nobody talks about’. But the numbers are not silent and it appears that about half of the young people who attend Church have had sex.

The National Family Planning Board’s 2008 Reproductive Health Survey indicates that 46% of young women and 60% of young men aged 15-24 who have ever had sexual relations attend church at least once a week.

Dawn recounted that the Pastor and his leaders lamented the fall of their young congregant as if she was their own child.   It is a small, close-knit church, led by a youthful pastor, who had not faced this situation before, she explained.

The Pastor said, “We prayed about how to respond and just followed the direction of the Lord”. They accepted the Lord’s challenge to face it in a God-honouring, Bible-believing way, so they met with Dawn and Amanda.

The Pastor and other church leaders determined that Dawn had tried her best but Amanda, knowing God’s standards, had made some bad decisions. Amanda, however, showed repentance about her sexual immorality in her speech and in her behavior.  The Pastor declared “We believe that while the sex was a sin, the baby was not” in keeping with Psalm 127:3 – Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Additionally, at a regular meeting of the church membership, the leaders reiterated that sex outside of marriage at any age is a sin and unacceptable, but the resulting children are not.  So, their decision was to love and support Amanda as she had recommitted to remaining a Christian and get help to make better decisions.

This gracious treatment of Amanda was peculiar because as the news soaked in, other church leaders and congregants would go to Dawn and share stories of being told to leave their church as youngsters because of teenage pregnancies.

“I heard stories of teenagers having abortion for fear of their deacon fathers finding out. Of little girls being sent away to country relatives.  Of pastors’ sons denying that they are the father and just a whole heap of painful hiding and rejection” Dawn lamented.

Clearly, when Dawn chose to tell her Pastor and Amanda agreed to meet with them, the church could freely apply 1 John 1:9 (KJV) – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Beyond Amanda’s confession and repentance her reform included attending professional counseling to speak about the issues that influenced her to sin in the first place; continuing regular attendance at church and starting mentoring relationship with a mature Christian.

Existing sex education programmes in Jamaica focus on teaching children how to engage in sexual intercourse that does not result in disease or procreation.  But they do not teach how to build stable life partnerships through healthy friendships then marriages before committing to sexual intercourse.

Both hospital and police staff encouraged Amanda to sign up with the Women’s Centre Foundation to continue her education.  But it was her mother who told her that while continuing her education was important, she also needed to learn how to have healthy Godly relationships with men.

Dawn reasoned that, “This would give Amanda hope for sex in the right context of marriage in the future.  Because after baby born, the ‘feelings’ don’t go away!  Who tells pregnant teenage girls that they can still look to get married some day?  And how do they go about achieving that?  It’s still on their minds, but who’s talking about it? And how do they raise their children well? I’d love to see Women’s Centre or the Church or somebody teach them about that!  Because as single parents we don’t always know how to”.

Throughout her pregnancy, Amanda had continued to regularly attend her church where she received encouragement and practical advice about motherhood.

Today the baby is born and bringing both joy and sleepless nights. Amanda says that her church’s love has been overwhelming as members donated cash gifts, baby clothes, furniture, diapers, motherly advice, rides to the clinic and much prayers. The baby’s father visits occasionally.

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There are no guarantees that as Christians we won’t sin, make bad decisions or mistakes. But in Romans 8:35 – 39, God has says that nothing can separate us from His love. He is not letting go. Why should we?

*Names and places have been changed to protect the identity of the family involved.

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‘There is a place for spanking’ – Dr. Barry Davidson

In these modern times, parents face unique challenges in effectively raising their children and oftentimes age-old practices are seen as ineffective, irrelevant and in some instances abusive. Corporal punishment, more commonly known as ‘spanking,’ is one of those parenting tools that is now in question and stirs significant debate.

Moreover, recent video recordings showing parents violently assaulting their children have further cracked the whip on the efficacy and humaneness of spanking. Family and Faith Magazine therefore sought answers from respected family counselor and CEO of Family Life Ministries, Dr. Barry Davidson.

Dr. Davidson first categorically explained that much of what has been seen from the viral videos are abusive behavior, where the parent seems to be venting destructive anger on a child.

Still, he was keen to point out that “there is a place for spanking.” He said: “I know it is not the politically correct thing for me to say but I say it because that is what I believe.” Dr. Davidson explained that “spanking is punishment and is not something that you do very often, it is something that you rarely do, but there is room for it. There is room for it when you really want to let the child know that this (negative behavior) is not something that you are going to tolerate.”

The family counselor was however adamant that parents “need to know when to spank, you need to know when not to spank and you need to also know how to spank.”

When not to spank

“I don’t believe you should spank for childish or immature behaviour which is consistent with a child’s age,” Dr. Davidson asserted.

He also warned against spanking when a child becomes restless as a result of sitting too long at an event or function. “A child who is in church and the service is going on too long (and the attention span for a child is much shorter than for an adult) and because the child is disturbing you; because the child is restless, you take the child outside and you spank the child – you don’t spank for that because the child is being him or herself,” the counselor explained.

Continuing he said: “you don’t spank for lack of ability – you may have one child that is very good at Math and the other is not. Don’t compare children and because one isn’t doing well you spank. You don’t spank for lack of ability.”

“You don’t spank for accidents – a child is playing cricket and the ball accidentally breaks a window you don’t spank for that however if you say to the child, don’t play cricket here anymore and the child continues, that is a different situation. That is now disobedience,” he explained.

“Never spank out of anger. Never spank when you are irritated, when you feel depressed or when you are tired because that’s when you lose control, that is when you become very very abusive,” he cautioned.

When to spank

Having shared when not to spank, Dr. Davidson also offered circumstances in which spanking may be warranted and helpful. He explained that spanking as a form of punishment can be done when there is disobedience. “Because when a child is deliberately disobedient – when a parent says over and over don’t do this and the child continues, what that child is doing is challenging the parental authority and so what the parent has to do is let the child know that this will not be tolerated, and the child must know why he or she is being spanked and the parent should be very calm and very careful,” he explained.

“I think also that children can be spanked for uncooperative attitudes – they are not willing to cooperate and again you have spoken to them, you have tried to help them to understand the importance of cooperating with the family – you might have to make a point. Because spanking is really punishment and punishment is making a point. It is letting a child know that hey, this is not going to be tolerated.”

Dr. Davidson added that parents could spank for lying, stealing, cheating – character faults. “These are things that should never be tolerated or encouraged. These are things that can end up in a worst situation than spanking, they could be embarrassed one day, in prison one day and so we need to understand that what we are doing with children is preparing them, helping them to live in  a real world and that real world has consequences for actions that right now we are helping them to change,” he explained.

A father himself, Dr Davidson told Family and Faith Magazine that: “I have 3 children and 1 of my children never ever got spanking, the other probably got 2 in their entire life and the other probably got 5 or 6 and yet still I was a believer in spanking. But I knew when to spank, when not to spank and knew spanking was not an act of discipline but punishment,” he admonished.

The family counselor also reiterated that “When I am talking about punishment I am not talking about abuse because I am very anti-abuse. I think abuse is what creates serious problems with people becoming very violent.” He however emphasized that “if you fail to punish a child, society is going to do it for you one day. A lot of children that we see becoming reckless and ruthless, they really never got the training and the discipline and when necessary the punishment when they were young.”

More on spanking below

RELATED: Check out fun Jamaican children’s book on bullying – titled We Don’t Hate Mondays Anymore!

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“It is my conviction that most youngsters even those who are rebellious against adults’ authority are actually seeking a strong hand of guidance and spanking therefore should be where you are setting definite boundaries of right and wrong for a child,” Dr. Davidson explained. Essentially, he says with spanking you are demanding obedience because disobedience can get you in trouble.

Asked what age spanking would be appropriate for children, Dr. Davidson said, “spanking should take place between ages 4 and 10. By the time you get to 10 or even 9 there is no need for spanking after that,” he said.

Where to spank

In terms of where to spank, the father of three prescribed that “the padded area that we sit on is the best place to provide the ‘rod of correction’. Certainly, it is not going to be the hands and face and the back – that to me is abuse,” he insisted.

In the end, Dr. Davidson urges parents to cultivate a balanced wholesome relationship with their children. He noted that firmness (discipline) without relationship can lead to rebellion and conversely, relationship without firmness can lead to spoiling. Instead he asserts that relationship plus firmness are what will result in helping parents to raise responsible human beings.

Do you believe there is a place for spanking? Why or why not?

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com.

For more parenting strategies from Dr. Davidson you can check out his book Answers to Questions Parents Ask co-authored with Faith Linton, now available in book stores across Jamaica.

Talk, Pray & Be Vulnerable – advice for parents of teens from co-pastor and mother of 5, Trudy Tucker

FullSizeRenderMother of 5 and co-pastor at Family Word and Worship Church, Trudy Tucker is advocating that talking with your children, being vulnerable and practising consistent prayer are powerful tools in parenting teenage kids. In an interview with Family and Faith Magazine, the passionate pastor shared practical, sound examples of effective parenting at work.

“Once the kids grow up, one thing we have to do is talk. I try and talk to my teenager and teach her the Word,” she admonished, noting that “A big thing for teenagers is the whole idea of sex. The hormones are going, there is attraction and I have to give her the Word and I have to say this is why the Word of God says to wait.”

Laying down God’s rules is not the only thing Pastor Trudy does. She also emphasizes God’s heart and mind towards His children. “He doesn’t want you to wait because he doesn’t want you to have fun. He wants you to wait because he is protecting, because you are valuable, you are important, God has a call upon your life, you have a purpose,” she explained.

And what if those teens still disobey? The Family Word and Worship Pastor recommends prayer!

“I think we underestimate the value of prayer. We have to pray for our children and we have to cover them. We think sometimes that prayer is not enough and we have to take this into our own hands, no God is able. The Holy Spirit is powerful enough to reach them right where they are. We underestimate the power of God – we think to pray is just a little thing but we must really value prayer and you will see prayer work in your life. It can change things. It can change the circumstances and it can change people,” pastor Trudy testified.

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The down-to-earth pastor also highlighted the importance of being vulnerable with teenagers. “I have to be vulnerable with my girls to say listen, this is what I went through and this is why I don’t want you to walk the same road I did. We have to be real with them. The time has changed. They are exposed to so much more than I was at their age so I have to be willing to step out there and be real to let them know this is the road I went down, you don’t have to go down that road,” she reasoned.

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Pastor Trudy Tucker (left) with 3 of her children and husband, Pastor Junior Tucker

With children ranging from 21 to 6 years, Pastor Trudy counsels that disciplining each child may require a different approach and that it is very important to instill values and correction from children are very young.

“With one of my children I would just have to look at her, and that was enough for her to get her straight, with another one I would say that I am very disappointed and I know my little boy is like that, if I tell him that I am disappointed he is heartbroken but you have to start very early and in that way when they get older now they will listen so you don’t have to get to the point where you are now beating and spanking them because you have instilled the values very early on,” she counseled.

RELATED: GET YOUR COPY OF HELPFUL CHILDREN’S BOOK ON BULLYING!

However, what if you didn’t cultivate that relationship from the beginning? Pastor Trudy says it’s never too late. “A scripture that I love is that love covers a multitude of sins. It is never too late to start building that relationship and what it takes is a lot of love. Meaning you have to start putting in the time. It is unfortunate you don’t get it back. When they are older the time for the spanking, to me, has passed. Now you are going to have to reason. We are going to have to talk about it,” she insisted.

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

Parents of 10, Major Neil & Jan Lewis on Effective Parenting Strategies & Outcomes that Inspire!

With 36 years of marriage, 10 children and 6 grandchildren in their quiver, Major Neil and Janice Lewis share their faith-imbued parenting and family management strategies and outcomes with Family and Faith Magazine. The Lewis family has 4 boys and 6 girls ranging from age 34 to 14 years of age. They are: Noel 34 yrs, Priscilla 32 yrs, Kathryn 31 yrs, Christina 29 yrs, Gabrielle 27 yrs, Raphael 24 yrs, Michaela 23 yrs, Elizabeth 19 yrs, Joel 17 yrs, Emmanuel 14 yrs. Family and Faith Magazine couldn’t be more pleased to share their testimony of faith in parenting, marriage and family life at a time when Jamaica and the world urgently need strong positive examples of success on the home front.

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Child Birthing Decisions

FFM: Did you make a decision to have so many children?

Major Neil and Jan: We decided that we would live by faith in Jesus, and made a decision to NOT ARTIFICIALLY RESTRICT the number of children we had but allow the Lord to decide how many children we would have.

FFM: Explain how your faith impacted your decisions about having children.

Major Neil and Jan: The song ” Living by Faith in Jesus….” became our operating principle. Initially Jan wanted 3 children because her mother had 3 children; I had wanted 12 children because my father had wanted 12. Although we had 10 children, Jan had 2 miscarriages. Because she hemorrhaged with No. 9 we decided to have any further children by caesarean section, hence No. 10 was a caesar. However, a failure of faith at this time caused us to make a decision to tie off Jan’s tubes. We were later convinced that this was a wrong decision and constituted a breach of our faith in Christ.

Education

FFM: How are your children schooled?

Major Neil and Jan: The first 5 children were schooled at a Christian Preparatory School, with Numbers 6 & 7 attending prep school up to grade 2. Thereafter these and subsequent ones were home-schooled.

FFM: What factors influenced your decision to school your children in that way?

Major Neil and Jan Lewis: Jan was very involved with our children’s education even to the point of jointly with 2 other persons acting as headmistress of the School while the Principal was on a six-month Sabbatical. She participated in bringing the Abeka home-school curriculum to the school. She also acted as Principal of a Prep school sponsored by our Church and our children attended that school during that period

So, all in all the last 5 children were home-schooled. This school developed into Redeemed Preparatory and Reading Centre operating out of our home.

We made conscious decisions to home-school the children up to grade 6 and send them to traditional High Schools for secondary education. These were Ardenne High and St Andrew high School for Girls, Jan’s Alma Mater. No. 10 attends Wolmer’s Boys, my Alma Mater.

FFM: Some of your children are now grown up, how do you now feel about your choices for them? Did it pay off? Are they becoming the people you have trained them to be?

Major Neil and Jan: Excellent without exception for the girls and the older group of 5. Less so for the boys who had difficulty with socialisation and adjusting out of the home-school environment into the public-school environment.

  • The first 4 earned full scholarships to the US Military Academies (3 Navy and 1 Air Force)
  • The fifth, a girl, is paying her own way through University
  • The sixth, a boy, is working to pay his way through Edna Manley School of the performing Arts in pursuit of a degree in piano.
  • The seventh, a girl, is on a scholarship from the Government of Brazil, studying Medicine.
  • The eighth, a girl, is on a scholarship at Venlo University in the Netherlands studying Microbiology and Statistical research
  • The ninth, a boy, is currently applying for suitable scholarships preparing for University, and
  • The tenth is in his fourth form year at Wolmer’s Boys School.

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Parenting Decisions

FFM: Share 2 effective ways in which you motivate your children.

Major Neil and Jan: We eventually, as we discovered the principle, divided the children’s’ lives into 7-year blocks as follows:

  • First 7 yrs motor skills and communication/language skills development ensuring they learned to read very early and were encouraged to maintain a high academic average of 95% in preparatory school
  • Second 7 yrs formation/development of supervisory and home management skills; i.e. cooking, cleaning and sibling leadership/discipline. Each one had responsibility for a younger one especially while the family is travelling; or supervising all younger siblings if the parents are out for hours, such as date night.
  • WE BRING THEM INTO ADULTHOOD AT THE AGE OF THIRTEEN; First they take a coming of age hike to Blue Mountain Peak (as part of a group), on return from which their status in the family changes as follows;
    • Corporal punishment ceases as a disciplinary method
    • They can take part in major family decisions and are privy to confidential family issues and discussions.
    • They must be prepared to supervise and manage the entire household in the event of absence of the parents over days rather than hours:
  • Primarily through the Prep and early High School years, we encouraged them to try different sports and skills such as competence in music,
  • Additionally, we told them we would ensure that they got a 1st class Secondary Education but that they had to earn Scholarships for their tertiary education which we regarded as compulsory or they must pay for it themselves.

FFM: Share 2 effective ways in which you discipline your children.

Major Neil and Jan: Up to coming into adulthood corporal punishment is applied according to age; “Spare the Rod, Spoil the child.”

  • Mother; one slap at age 1, 2 slaps at age 2 to 3 slaps at age 3
  • For severe offences requiring referral to father then this punishment is doubled
  • The end result is that especially for the girls, corporal punishment was no longer necessary by age 9.
  • Post thirteen years, withdrawal of privileges became the method of choice for disciplining.

FFM: Do you practice different parenting approaches when disciplining and motivating your girls versus your boys?

Major Neil and Jan: We encourage all the children to confide in us as parents even their most intimate secrets, primarily through family prayers and a once monthly Family all night Prayer Meeting, where each person is free to criticise/rebuke anyone else even us as parents with no fear of a negative response. The girls have an easier time doing this. We were deliberate in engendering a spirit of seeking and granting FORGIVENESS between them. The result is that there is no lingering strife and rivalry and they remain loving.

FFM: In general, what are your top 3 lessons you have learned about parenting over the years?

Major Neil and Jan: PRAYING FOR THEM INDIVIDUALLY DAILY.

  • This is a responsibility largely fulfilled throughout their early lives by their mother. This made them malleable in our PARENTING hands and enabled the Holy Spirit to reveal when things are going wrong.
  • Later we also implemented a Prayer Project System where we prayed and reported progress on an ongoing basis for every prayer need until the answer is granted.
  • Now that they are all adults, resident in many different time zones our family Whatsapp group is very helpful as a tool of encouragement, responsive (24 hr.) prayer and counsel for our daily lives.

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The larger the number of children the easier the parenting responsibility socially AND educationally AND financially became; the older siblings help raise/teach/pay for the younger ones etc. Having this large number of CHILDREN OURSELVES prepared our household to always include at least one foster child who benefitted from our parenting and family bonding. We found that consequently there is always a reserve of persons on whom to call in times of need.

“Train up a child in the way he should go AND in the END, he will not depart from it” – we encourage them to give their hearts to the Lord Jesus from an early age. The Family Altar is the most critical component in the child-rearing challenge.

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FFM: What impact did having many children have on your marriage?

Major Neil and Jan: Up to the fifth child, it was an exciting learning process because each child was so different; At no. 5 the Lord did a paradigm shift which enabled Janice to freely move forward for the next 5 of our children. The large number of children was therefore never a burden or drag on our individual lives or personal ambitions. The Lord had given us a revelation early in our marriage that children must never get in the way of ministry but equally that ministry must never get in the way of family, so wherever family was ministry must be and wherever ministry was family must be, therefore we practised taking them wherever we went. They were always polite and well behaved, this was a skill honed in the discipline of family prayers. They have been a major bonding agent and have never been a burden!! We came into a revelation of the dynastic characteristic and the demographically essential nature of HAVING A QUIVER FULL OF CHILDREN thus fulfilling the Biblical requirement of multiplying and filling the earth.

FFM: Who comes first in your relationship, spouse or children? Why?

Major Neil and Jan: We have always regarded our child-rearing as a fully joint responsibility and have tried to avoid any preferential behaviour however I have found that;

  • For Janice her nurturing, mothering heart appeared to me to give the children priority; Jan prefers to say; that for her Jesus is first, followed by her spouse then our children
  • For me my Spouse was definitely first and it was difficult adjusting to put Jesus first before her and I believe this was responsible for the failure of faith I mentioned earlier on the birth of our tenth child.

FFM: What advice can you offer to parents struggling to raise respectful, responsible and loving children?

Major Neil and Jan Lewis: ESTABLISH A DISCIPLINED DAILY FAMILY ALTAR through which you train them to behave in church from they are infants.

  • We have used the ONE YEAR BIBLE and read through The Bible every year as a family since the birth of our fourth child.
  • LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM, and VALUE THEM as A REWARD from the Lord as the Word of God insists.
  • Discipline them do not abuse them.
  • PRAY, PRAY, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING FOR THEM! God has the Blue-print for EACH CHILD, they are after all His children first!

Responses to questions were graciously provided in writing by Major Neil and Janice Lewis to Family and Faith Magazine. Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

Prime Minister of Jamaica Repents for the Sins of the Nation

Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness and his wife joined with thousands of Jamaicans on Saturday, December 2 to seek God and repent for the sins of the nation. Amidst leaders from most Christian denominations including Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, Independent churches and other groups, the Prime Minister passionately and solemnly listed and confessed the sins of the nation and sought forgiveness from God under open sky in Half-Way-Tree Square.

“Lord God and Heavenly Father, I come to you today on behalf of my nation, my family, my wife who is here with me and every family and person in Jamaica. I come as Prime Minister of Jamaica on behalf of myself and all leaders of the state and their various administrative staff, operational arm, and the various agents and agencies;

Lord God and Eternal Father I come acknowledging that we have sinned against the people of Jamaica, we have sinned against our fellow man, we have sinned against our family members and relatives, we have sinned against our neighbours, we have sinned against the children, the youth and the unborn. We have sinned against the poor and the weak and the elderly, we have sinned against the free and the imprisoned…” Mr. Holiness outlined.

Moved by the Prime Minister’s confessions and supplications, the audience could be heard weeping and shouting “amen” and “hallelujah!”

“We hereby seek your face and turn from our wicked ways asking for your mercies and forgiveness for sins and seek by faith and by choice to humble ourselves in your sight acknowledging our sins individually and collectively. We now take responsibility for our sins. As we come to you, grant us grace to obey you in Jesus name,” the Prime Minister petitioned.

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Explaining his perspective on prayer, the Prime Minister also noted that: “We pray not because we don’t want to work…we pray because we know our efforts will never be enough.

“We pray because God is stronger than us,” Prime Minister Holiness declared to much cheers and applause from the audience which tarried in Half-Way-Tree Square until after midnight.

The National Day of fasting, prayer and repentance was convened by Pastor Jeffrey Shuttleworth of Tarrant Baptist Church. In addition to the Prime Minister, several church leaders from various denominations prayed and repented about several themes including the family, the economy, violence, media and culture among others.

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‘I thought I was going to die but it was God cleaning house’ – Anointed Dancer Nickeisha Jones

Do sharp unkind words or attitudes weigh you down? Do you keep the cruel words and actions of others in your heart, allow offence to grow and fester, and refuse to release the hurt and the person who caused you emotional harm? Do you secretly malice the person and wish for their downfall? If your answer to these questions is yes, you may want to change your mind about how you approach dealing with emotional pain, because it turns out that malice and un-forgiveness can make you physically sick.

Family and Faith Magazine caught up with the beautiful soft-spoken and powerfully anointed Founder and Director of Laud Dance Ministries, Nickeisha Antonette Jones who shared about becoming seriously ill as a result of malice and un-forgiveness, some seven years ago.

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“I struggled with malice and un-forgiveness. If you say something to offend me I would just smile but in my mind, I usually harbor that person. And if persons offend me or I feel offended by anyone, the moment when they enter the room I would just leave,” she told Family and Faith Magazine.

Of course this way of handling offence can be problematic in a creative interactive environment such as in a dance group. “When the group (Laud) started that’s where I found that God started to really work on me. We had different personality clashes and as a person who was easily offended to be placed over persons who ‘go off’ any minute that was really hard for me,” the Dance Director said. “Persons would do stuff in the group and I wouldn’t take it well, still I was ministering; going out to churches, dancing,” she confessed.

Soon however malice and un-forgiveness would not only ‘cripple’ Nickeisha’s heart but also her limbs and her whole body. “It brought me to a point where I couldn’t even get up off of my bed to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t play with my children, I had no time for my husband, I couldn’t attend my rehearsals at Laud. The beauty though is that the team would normally come to my house and they would pray for me and stuff like that,” the talented dancer recalled.

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On top of that, her “blood pressure was out of whack, blurred vision, panic attacks, I took anxiety tablets, at nights I couldn’t sleep, my heart would be racing and it would just be really really crazy,’ she said, noting that she had to undergo numerous tests in order to find out what was wrong in her body. “I did an MRI, I did a CAT scan, I did a whole lot of tests to see what was happening with me, but they were saying that they could not find anything wrong,” she recalled.

“And I remember one day just lying on the bed and I was like ‘God what is this?’ And He gave me a list of persons to call and just ask for forgiveness because it was un-forgiveness that had caused me to become ill,” Nickeisha revealed. “It wasn’t until the Lord gave me the list of persons to call and ask them to forgive me if I did anything wrong, that my health started to get better. I thought I was going to die but in fact God was just cleaning house. After I had called all of the persons I felt a weight lift off of me,” she testified.

The season of illness lasted for about 4 to 6 months and was a difficult challenge for Nickeisha’s family. But the wife of 15 years is deeply grateful for the love and support of her doting husband Kemar Jones. “I am just surprised at how my husband really stayed and kept the family together.  Anything I asked for, he was at my beck and call. If I said Kemar, my head is hurting me, he is up, he was very supportive.”

 

Nickeisha

As part of the purging process from emotional pain and malice, Nickeisha stayed in prayer and the Word.  “Psalm 91 became so real to me. This is the Psalm that I would read a lot and I remember when I was reading it, He who dwells in the secret place….and I felt God hugged me and I called out to my husband and said Kemar you feel that? He is like, what?” she recounted to Family and Faith Magazine.

Clearly after the whole experience, the committed believer is not the same. “I get to realize that in order for us to be at a level with Christ we have to go through some of these steps and some of these steps are not easy. I remember saying, ‘Lord I want more of you.’ But in getting to that level you have to overcome something in order to go to that level and it wasn’t until I went through that that I realize that being a Christian is a serious thing,” she contended.

The season of illness wasn’t the first time Nickeisha experienced remarkable victory in Christ. She recalled when she had a miscarriage as a young mother and how she was tempted to take her life.

“The nurse said don’t push until I come back so as a first-time mother, if the nurse gives you an instruction even if you feel like pushing, you are gonna close your legs. So that’s what I did and it ended up sending the baby in distress because the baby defecated inside of me and inhale it and later on the pediatrician that came to talk to me said that if the baby lived she would have been a vegetable.”

A miscarriage can certainly be one of the hardest emotional and physical experiences for women, especially for a young mother. To make things worse, the hospital where Nickeisha delivered her stillborn placed her in the same space with women who had just delivered their babies safely. “So that was like torture. I remember when I was laying down on my bed, it was 4 persons in our cubicle and when I looked over I saw this teenager who I had learned worked in the market. She didn’t have anything. And another lady was there and she wasn’t married or anything and ‘the enemy’ just came in. I literally just felt a presence sat on my bed, it sank. And he was like ‘you do praise and worship, you dance, so whe your God deh, whe your baby deh?’ And he showed me the young lady who wasn’t married and the lady who wasn’t married with their babies and he showed me some other persons and I just draw the screen around myself. And he was saying to me, when the nurses do the last call just tell them that you are going to the bathroom, go all the way to the top and jump off the building cause you don’t have no purpose.”

Nickeisha was so broken by the experience that she had decided in her heart to jump. However, God in the nick of time, sent one of His servants to encourage Nickeisha during this dark moment.  Nickeisha remembers an African nurse who was to do the last check on the ward that night.

“She asked, ‘why is the screen drawn?’ You are not supposed to draw the screen because we have to see the baby. And the other lady who was across the bed told her that I lost my baby and then the nurse said, oh. And when she pulled the screen she just started to pray and she started cover my mind. She said ‘The Lord is going to give you a child that you think is like 10 children’ (which is now my son), and He is going to allow you to do things and she started to prophecy over my life and when she did that I started to feel different. I was actually planning out everything (to jump off the building) but when she was leaving she said God loves you and I will see you tomorrow and I said ok. And by the time she left, the place wasn’t so gloomy anymore and so I started to go over to the ladies and I went to the teenager and I said where is your stuff? And she said her mother don’t bring it yet, she will bring it in the morning. And I took up most of my baby stuff and I gave it to her and the other ladies and I just start walking around and giving away all the things. The only thing I kept was a blanket my mother bought and a booty.”

Since that time Nickeisha has experienced other miscarriages but she is happy for the two wonderful children that God allowed her to have; her 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.

Nickeisha is certainly a believer who has experienced God’s hand in her life and now more than anything else, the anointed Dance Minister just wants to make Him smile.

LaudCertainly the amazing performances and concerts that her dance group, Laud does are part of how she is seeking to please the Lord. Laud’s upcoming annual concert being staged under the theme “He Touched Me” is sure to be a powerful encounter. The concert is scheduled for October 14 and 15 at the Little Theatre with tickets available at the Theatre or at 129 Sundown Crescent, off Molynes Road in Jamaica.

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In the end, with over 2 decades of dance under her belt, Nickeisha is keen to ensure that in all things God gets the glory. “Anything you are doing for God, the moment you feel ‘flesh’ rising up, you have to say to God, take over. Because if you follow the crowd you will feed on that and forget that you are a minister. So you have to be constantly reminding yourself to say it is not for me to get the glory, it’s for God. At the end of the day whether it is that I am dancing or raising my children or being a wife, at the end of the day, I just want to make God smile.” SAH

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

RELATED – check out Kamila McDonald on Wellness and WATA!

 

Minister Marion Hall (formerly Lady Saw) Praises the God of Second Chances

Most Jamaicans know her as the ‘Queen of the Dancehall’. She has had an award-winning career as a master lyricist and scintillating performer, headlining countless shows locally and internationally. However a few years ago, the artiste formerly known as Lady Saw, turned over her life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Family and Faith Magazine connected with the former dancehall star who now goes by the name Minister Marion Hall which reflects her new mandate as a Christian artiste.

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Family and Faith Magazine: How have you changed since you committed your life to the Lord Jesus?

Minister Marion Hall: Praise Be to God, the God of second chances. I have changed in so many ways, but most importantly, I’ve changed for Christ.

Family and Faith Magazine: What have you been doing to keep growing in the Lord?

Minister Marion Hall: I’ve been staying in the Word, as the Holy Spirit had instructed me to do when I first got saved. I was also reminded in a vision some months ago, when I got distracted by family issues. My God directs my life.

Family and Faith Magazine: Do you ever feel tempted to go back to being Lady Saw? Why or Why not?

Minister Marion Hall: I have never. And will never be tempted to go back to do the work of the devil.  The reason is that I’m in love with the lord!!!! The second reason is that He gives me ‘the peace that passeth all understanding!!!’ And the last reason but not least, I never like that person. Lady saw that is.

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Family and Faith Magazine: Jamaica is celebrating 55 years of independence this year, If you had the power to change one thing about Jamaica, what would that be and why?

Minister Marion Hall: I would love to change so many things in our country.  But I don’t have the power. The ones with the power only looking out for themselves, while the poor remain poor, or die trying to survive. All I can do is pray for not just my country, but the world.

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Family and Faith Magazine: You will be in Jamaica this August, tell us about where you will be ministering and about your latest project.

Minister Marion Hall: I will be ministering in Kingston, Ocho Rios, Savannah-La-Mar, and May pen. The dates are August 1, 5, 12 and 13. I will also be recording my new album with the “His Grace.”  On the 7th of October I will be ministering at the Montego Bay Convention Center. I will also be in Black River, Santa Cruz and Junction for December 7, 12 and 14.

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Jesus Lives in Jamaica!

I once heard the late renowned senior pastor, Dr. Myles Munroe joke (or maybe he wasn’t joking) that God lives in the Bahamas. I suppose he said that as testament to how blessed his homeland has been over the years. But if we were to go by the number of Jamaicans that associate themselves with a church as well as the number of churches in the island, Jamaica would definitely be the place where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit reside!

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Jamaica has the most churches per square mile of any country in the world. But then Jamaica is used to being among the best, highest, most or first: Jamaica has the fastest man and woman in the world, Jamaica’s reggae music is recognized across the world; Jamaica is recognized as the best place to do business in the region; Jamaica is among the top Miss World titleholders in the world (certainly is at the very top in the Caribbean); Jamaica has some of the world’s best healing herbs (especially its marijuana); Jamaica is now among the 10 most improved economies for doing business in the world and the list goes on and on.

So the fact that we have had the most churches per square mile isn’t too surprising. We tend to over-perform.

Established in the 1600s, the Church of England, which we know today as the Anglican Church, is said to be the oldest continuous religious presence in Jamaica. However longevity does not imply growth since according to the 2011 Population and Housing Census, Anglican membership is among the smallest when compared to other denominations in Jamaica and furthermore it has been on the decline in recent years.

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On the other hand, the largest denomination in Jamaica is currently the Seventh-day Adventist faith with over 320,000 members. A Seventh-day Governor General and Prime Minister are therefore fairly representative of the population. Of course behind the Adventists are the Pentecostals, which number just under 300,000 followed by Church of God and the New Testament Church of God. Overall, irrespective of their associated denomination, it is estimated that some 77% of all Jamaicans identify with a religious organization, which makes the island, largely Christian, which then naturally means that ‘Jesus lives in Jamaica!’

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Seriously though, like Dr. Munroe, Jamaicans tend to feel like they are more God-blessed than any other country in the region or the world. Just ask any Jamaican about why predicted hurricanes somehow miraculously shift away from the rock at the last minute. Local meteorologists must get tired of advising that a severe destructive weather system is coming nigh Jamaica since at least 2.2 million people (the 77%) are going to fall on their knees and petition God to protect the island. And since they are His children, He will hear and answer. This has become such a thing that the other 23% (who don’t necessarily believe in God) started to question the veracity of the meteorologists’ methods and predictions about storms ‘coming to Jamaica’. It must be that the poor meteorologist is not so good at his job, is tricking us or is in cahoots with the private sector so that they can make more money from tin food, water and candle sales during the hurricane season, they surmise. Or, it could be that the storm simply naturally changed course which it sometimes is likely to do. For that 23%, those possibilities are more tolerable and reasonable than the idea that God actually hears and turns back or stops storms, as He had done in Mark 4:39. “Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

So if it is that God is hearing us pray and is sparing our island from natural disasters, why doesn’t He spare us from the scourge of crime and violence that continues to storm communities? Jamaica is known to be one of the most violent countries in the world. What a paradox: we have some of the happiest people, most beautiful locations, ‘irie’ music, best vibes, best sportspeople and yet we are among the most violent. Maybe we are too ‘spirited’ and I don’t mean in the Holy Spirit sense. Maybe we are too passionate intrinsically, so everything happens in extremes.

Or, maybe the 2.2 million intercessory massive don’t pray in desperation for deliverance from crime. Maybe we are not kneeling down on this issue because most of us are directly unaffected by violent crime. As horrible as crime is in Jamaica and the terrible reputation that Jamaica has developed as a country, most crimes are really only committed in pockets of communities in certain parishes. According to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank, victims of violent crime are concentrated in certain neighborhoods. “Living in a neighborhood with high physical disorder (graffiti, trash and abandoned buildings), low social cohesion (trust among neighbors) and a gang presence were all strongly associated with being a victim of violent crime.” So the entire island is not beset by the crime scourge, and that may be why the entire island, or at least the believing 77%, don’t seem to be bending their knees in desperation and begging God to intervene. But then how do we truly know that they do not?

Or, is it that crime is a social problem that involves the will, unlike a natural hazard which we understand to be largely an act of God? Is it that God would not so readily intervene when man’s free will is involved? And is it that we reap what we collectively sow in corruption of all sorts, abuse in families, father’s abandonment of children, mother’s sowing seeds of bitterness in their children, unforgiveness, poor parenting practices etc.etc.etc?

Or is the issue one of unity? We stand in unity when we pray against hurricanes approaching Jamaica. Not so much when praying about crime, if as individuals we pray about crime at all. There have been many marches and prayer meetings, but do we as professed Christians personally and consistently pray for the deliverance and protection of communities and the nation or do we typically only ‘cover our house under the blood?’ Kudos to Reverend Jeffrey Shuttleworth and the Tarrant Baptist Church (TBC) radio team, who have been using the airwaves to regularly and strategically pray and pull down strongholds of darkness all over Jamaica.

Certainly the crime issue is an area for genuine introspection and genuflection not only by the church but by Jamaicans overall. However, in all the devising and scheming that we must do to quell crime, I believe the church’s original mandate to save, redeem and disciple is the greatest deterrent to crime. Yes, we have some false prophets and sinful pastors that have muddied the church’s reputation but the overarching positive transformational impact of the church on the island cannot be hidden.

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The church has made a significant contribution to Jamaica’s progress and prosperity over the years, particularly as it pertains to the development of education and social services. Most of the schools and charities in Jamaica were founded by churches. And if we agree with the late human rights activist and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela that “education is the greatest weapon you can use to change the world,” then the church’s investment in Jamaica’s education has been life-changing and nation-building. Indeed, if you add the number of churches and church-run schools operating in the island, you wouldn’t be able to deny that God’s hand is actively at work in Jamaica. And maybe His hand is upon us because every major and minor event in Jamaica starts or ends with a request to God to bless and guard our country and grant wisdom to national leaders, through the playing of the beloved national anthem.

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As we commemorate 55 years of independence this month, let us therefore continue to discern God’s hand in our land and give Him the glory for all the great things He has done in Jamaica. And as we envision the future, let us abide in His great love and seize ‘the abundant life’ that His son, the Lord Jesus promised to all who believe in Him, irrespective of our denominational persuasion.

Happy ‘Emancipendence’ Jamaica!

Shelly-Ann Harris is the Editorial Director and Founder of Family and Faith Magazine. 

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