‘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.”

 

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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!

 

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New high schoolers ask God to bless them with success & good friends

After soaking up the sun and great fun at Jewel Resort during the Summer holiday, our GSAT kids have started high school! Having done well in their exams, the children are now enrolled at some of Jamaica’s top high schools. Cara is at Immaculate Conception, Immanuel and Israel Jamaica College and Nia-Ashley at St. Andrew High School for girls.

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From left: Nia-Ashley, Immanuel, Cara and Israel

As they embark on this new phase of life, the high achievers from prep and primary school are asking God to keep them on the ‘straight and narrow’ as they start high school.

Cara – As I embark on a new journey to high school, I would like God to help me to make Christian friends. I would like to have friends who will motivate me, who are focused and hardworking and will assist me in becoming a better Christian. I would like God to help me to be a good Christian friend as well.

Nia-Ashley – As I embark on this new stage of my life, I ask God to provide Christian friends with competent and motivated teachers  to support and guide me in the right direction. I also ask God to help me to maintain academic success and make my family and well-wishers proud.

Israel – I want God to assist me in gaining academic excellence in high school. I am believing God to give me great success in the sport of football.

Immanuel – As I go to high school, I want God to give me success in the area of football and for him to let me be the leading goal scorer on the school football Pepsi team. I also want the Lord to help me not to be ragged!

Family and Faith Magazine has been journeying with these 4 precious children over the last few months and we are pleased that in the end, with all the stress that GSAT brought, they have learned that hard work pays off, and the biblical adage holds true, you reap what you sow.

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St. Andrew High student serves the community with Jamaica Broilers help

The St. Andrew High School for girls has implemented a Community Service component to the school’s curriculum wherein each young lady is required to complete five (5) hours of voluntary community service each school year. We had the privilege of catching up with Miss Jada MacMillan, now entering grade 9 at the school, as she worked with the Jamaica Broilers Group (JBG) to prepare back-to-school packages for students in the parish of St. Catherine.

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Jada has completed ten (10) service hours since being enrolled at St. Andrew High, though she has been an active volunteer even before joining the school.

“I have participated in community service with Jamaica Broilers Group since I was a baby (I don’t remember it all but I see the pictures). I have been to Bustamante Hospital, Sunbeam Boys Home and one Heroes Day I remember we went to Curphy Home to treat the Heroes of the war and hear their stories and serve them a Best Dressed Chicken dinner and we had a barber who cut their hair. I remember there was only one female war veteran.”

In her first year at St. Andrew, she volunteered at the Sunbeam Boys Home where she helped to prepare and serve breakfast for the boys. She also participated in their annual Christmas Day treat, though for her this was not unusual, as her family has traditionally visited the home each year on this occasion. In her second year, she worked with the Jamaica Broilers team to make packages for the orphans in Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew.

For Jada, the school, her family and JBG – where her mother Mrs. Lissa MacMillan is employed – have all contributed to shaping for her a culture of ‘giving back’.

Her most recent project with the Group saw her working alongside Miss Karla Davis, Public Relations and Training Assistant (affectionately known to Jada as Auntie Karla). Jada was charged with the responsibility of counting the items ordered to make sure that all were accounted for and ensuring that enough items were available for each package. Generally packages included a Best Dressed Chicken branded school bag, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, pencil cases, note books and other items depending on the age group of the recipients.

When asked about the experience, Jada replied, “I worked on the project with Auntie Karla. We worked two (2) days until we were finished and I didn’t care about the hours, I was happy knowing that it would make many children happy. It was very exciting and I enjoyed it. I realize that even if you don’t have money or things to give, you can give your time – it is valuable.”

The Company distributed 370 school bags filled with school supplies to residents of the communities within which their major operations are established including Spring Village, McCook’s Pen, Bodles and Freetown.

In closing, Jada remarked, “I think the programme at St. Andrew High wants us to learn to be better citizens and recognize that you have a responsibility to make somebody’s life better. I’m glad Jamaica Broilers is helping me to do this.”

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

See RELATED story about St. Andrew Old Girl Kandi-Lee Crooks Smith:  Sweet as ‘Kandi’ – Overachieving Principal of the Year, Wife & Mother, Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith Shares How God Orders Her Steps.

Single-sex versus Co-ed Schools?

The new academic year has begun and schools in Jamaica are expected to play a huge role in shaping the development of children and enabling them to achieve their full potential. However, one issue that some parents tend to reflect on is the question of single-sex versus co-educational institutions. To help us to assess the merits of both types of schools, Family and Faith Magazine caught up with veteran respected educator, Esther Tyson.

Family and Faith Magazine: What are some of the unique benefits and challenges of sending your child to a single sex institution?

Esther Tyson: Research has shown that girls do better at the sciences and math when they are in a single sex school. It appears that when girls are in co-ed schools they expect that the boys will do better at these subjects. Girls attending single sex schools generally are more competitive in that environment. I have seen where the girls attending a single sex school seem to be less prepared to engage with the opposite sex in a platonic way. Relationships with the opposite sex, unless they interact with them in other circumstances, tend to be rife with sexual interpretations and innuendos. Romantic attachments are imagined where there might be none.

In the same way, boys who do not have girls around tend to be rougher on the edges and may not understand how to treat the opposite sex. Boys in single sex schools seem to develop a more macho way of relating to each other in the absence of the girls. So there are academic as well as social advantages and disadvantages for single sex education.

Family and Faith Magazine: Although the answer to our next question was intimated in your first response, please still articulate for our readers the unique benefits and challenges of sending your child to a co-ed institution?

Esther Tyson: In a co-ed institution boys and girls learn to relate to each other as friends from early. In the 7th grade there is a healthy rivalry that takes place between all students. This changes when at about 9th grade the hormones really kick in and the awareness of the opposite sex in a sexual and romantic way change the dynamics of the relationships. Some girls become more shy and demure because they are trying not to compete with the boys but instead want to give them space to shine. On the other hand, boys may start to antagonize the girl that they like as a backhanded way of showing it.  The dynamics of the interaction certainly change in upper school. Underlying all of this though is a history that these students have with each other and an understanding of each other unlike those who are educated in a single sex school. In a co-ed school a girl can learn that she can do as well at the sciences, math and tech/voc subjects as any boy. This knowledge can boost her self-confidence. Girls and boys in co-ed school develop an understanding that they can have a platonic relationship with the opposite sex without any sexual or romantic attachments.

Family and Faith Magazine: Do you have a preference for either one, as it pertains to preparing a well-rounded actualized individual? Why or why not?

I think that both systems have their benefits. Both my daughters went to a single sex school, whilst my son went to a co-ed school. My girls had other environments apart from school where they interacted with the opposite sex, so the social impact was not felt. Academically, they were able to compete with other girls in all areas and develop their own skills without competing with boys. My son has good friendships with girls that he went to school with which are platonic, this is a healthy outcome of co-ed education.

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WATA, Wellness and Hurricane Prep with Fitness Coach Kamila McDonald

Persons who are overweight tend to overthink the weight loss and wellness process and get bogged down with gym membership fees, starvation diets, fat-burning tablets and other ideas, when sometimes one of the simple things that can be done immediately with little effort is ensuring that they are hydrated by drinking enough water. According to a recent study, some 50% of Jamaicans are dehydrated, which explains why so many are also overweight! However, thanks to the efforts of the WATA brand in Jamaica, efforts are being made to increase the hydration of Jamaicans and place hundreds on a path to wellness and weight management.

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Over the past 4 years, WATA Ambassador and Fitness Coach Kamila McDonald and other guest instructors have been leading the WATA Wellness family of approximately 100 persons every first and third Wednesday through various workout activities free of cost. Interestingly, the workouts are innovatively done with WATA bottles. “When I first started working with them (WATA), I thought, how cool would it be if you could use WATA bottles as weights? So we started using 1.5 litre and 5 litre WATA bottles during our workouts,” she told Family and Faith Magazine, beaming.

Plus as brawta each member receives their ‘workout WATA’ to go home, which is a great way for them to stock up during the current hurricane season. Of course September has seen some of the most intense storms during the season and Kamila recommends that Jamaicans stock up on a few 5 litre bottles of WATA in order to stay hydrated during the season, especially during water lock offs or simply to ensure that they are consuming clean potable WATA. Each person in your home needs at least 5 gallons of water over a 3-day period to stay hydrated.

Reflecting on the impact of the WATA Wellness Programme over the years, Kamila declares that “it has been a blessing. Through the WATA wellness programme, I know that I am fulfilling my purpose on earth. We have 1 member who has lost over 100 pounds by committing to the monthly workouts and you have women feeling more confident about themselves,” shared the bubbly fitness expert. She added that working with the WATA brand “fits so authentically into what I do in my life, which is teach people to be the healthiest version of themselves which you can’t do without proper hydration,” she explained, emphasizing that the most important aspect of being healthy is being and staying hydrated.

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For her personal regime, Kamila tries to get in 3 litres of water each day, which is two 1.5 litre WATA bottles. She espouses the adage that ‘water is life’ and points out that water in the human body lubricates joints, protects organs and helps with lethargy. And for those who don’t quite like the bland taste, she suggests adding a favourite fruit or vegetable such as oranges, cucumbers or lemons to your WATA beverage. The health guru also advised that sometimes when persons say they are hungry, sometimes they are simply dehydrated.

No doubt Kamila and the WATA Wellness Family will continue to spur Jamaicans on to a better version of themselves as they stay committed to hydration and wellness over the long haul. For more information about WATA’s Wellness Family connect with them via Facebook or send an email to watawellness@wisynco.com.

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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.

RELATED: OPERATION RESTORATION CHRISTIAN SCHOOL BRINGS HOPE TO THE NEEDY THROUGH THE KIND SUPPORT OF THE JAMAICA BROILERS GROUP

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.

RELATED: OPERATION RESTORATION CHRISTIAN SCHOOL BRINGS HOPE TO THE NEEDY THROUGH THE KIND SUPPORT OF THE JAMAICA BROILERS GROUP

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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Who is your Model Woman?

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By Sophia Campbell (3rd left), founder of Model Woman Ministry

Clothed with strength and dignity, she is the Model Woman.  Far from being perfect but being perfected in and through her experiences and along the way positively impacting the lives of others. She is you, me, the stay-at-home mom, CEO in the boardroom, the single woman, the working woman, community leader, household assistant, pastor, no matter the role or position.; she is a Model Woman.

Six children she raised, a housewife, always at home and looking out for the best interest of the family.  There was never a day that I returned from school and she was not there.  She was also a dressmaker, who sewed only for her children and the only person who I knew could bake without using any measuring apparatus. Her Christmas cakes were the best!!  Every Saturday morning, bar none, she traveled to Coronation Market.  A trip she loved to make. I went on many of them with her.

She was wholly dependent on my father for financial assistance.  I loved her, but at the same time feared becoming like her, for the sole reason that she had nothing of her own and she was dependent on my father to provide for her.   She always honoured and respected him and served him hand and foot.

No matter what time my dad came home she served him a hot meal, even without him asking.  I hated that, because I never once heard him say thanks.  She was selfless and I could not understand why she chose to stay home.  Especially in an environment that was “not so harmonious” most of the time. Me stay at home?  Never.  Independence was the goal for me, my own money, my job, my things, my life…my OWN EVERYTHING!!!   

However, as I grew older I began to appreciate mom being at home. The place could not run without her.  It was proven time and time again.  She left a few times and eventually came back, every time.  However, overtime we took her for granted, but she remained steadfast in her commitment and unconditional love for us.

I remembered the last time I saw her, I was upset with her, because she did something for me and I did not like the way she did.  I left home angry that day. However, later I realized that I was too harsh and had an apology card, a gift and a bar of her favourite chocolate in my tote bag. However, my hopes of reconciliation were dashed when my sister met me at the street corner, before I could reach home that mom was in the hospital.  When I saw her in the hospital she was unconscious, she suffered a stroke and passed away.  I found it hard to recover.  It was difficult to forgive myself.  It took a long time to come to terms with it.

She was not a Christian; however, she always shared a scripture form the book of Psalms before I went to bed.  I would see her cry sometimes and I promised myself I would take her away from here one day and take her to a “happy place”.  I knew that she served and loved us through her trials and pain.  She sacrificed a lot for me, for our family and I did not get a chance to tell her how much she meant to me; how much I appreciated her. It was the one time in life I can truly say, “I did not get a second chance.”

Now, when I look back on her life. I realized that, though not perfect, she taught and showed me unconditional love, how to honour a spouse, irrespective of how the spouse treats you and how to manage a household.   She is my   MODEL WOMAN…one of.

We have an opportunity now to tell the person who is a Model Woman to you how they impacted your life and honour them for it.   This is counter to what we have been taught or seen, as this is usually reserved for preparing a eulogy. I am convinced that this should change and we should share our appreciation testimony while the person is still with us. Make the effort to let them know that they do indeed matter and change your life, for the better, no matter how small. Launched in May of this year, Model Woman is a ministry that has this simple objective; to recognize the woman/women in our lives who have helped to mould us and model the character of Christ to us.

Another person I consider my Model Woman is Mrs. Patricia Scully.  She mentored and discipled me for over 15 years.  She is like a mother figure to me.  Her advice to me is always “Remember who you are in Christ Sophie.”  Indeed, there are many godly women who discipled younger women; there were those who trained and mentored them, transforming them by God’s grace.

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As we reflect on how to minister to women today, we should remember and recognize those who have blessed us, particularly my Pastor, Mrs. Joan Fletcher, who encouraged me to launch the Model Woman Ministry and hosted it at her home.  The next meeting will be held in September 2017. For more information, check out Model Woman Ministry on Facebook.

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Kind Hearts fuel the engine at Stewart’s Automotive Group

Family and Faith Magazine is always pleased to highlight how successful corporate enterprises are giving back to Jamaica, especially those family-run entities that feature generations of savvy business minds with a kind heart towards the community. Indeed it seems as though kindness is what fuels the engine at the Stewart’s Automotive Group which has been putting their profits where their heart is, and in this season of independence Family and Faith Magazine is happy to highlight a few of the ways that the Group has blessed Jamaica.

The Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation

Since its inception in 1938, the Stewart’s Automotive Group has always played a huge role in working toward the betterment of Jamaica. However it was in 2009, that Diana and her late husband founded the Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation to further their efforts in giving back to Jamaica. The Foundation provides numerous academic scholarships for at-risk youth, including the children of the Stewart’s Automotive Group staff members.

Following in their grandparents’ footsteps, the six grandchildren responded to the systemic poverty in Jamaica by founding their own branch of the Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation, Kind Hearts. Kind Hearts focuses on community housing and education needs for underprivileged families in Jamaica. The grandchildren have participated in the construction and fundraising efforts of four compassion homes and several basic schools in rural Jamaica. In August 2016, Kind Hearts successfully reached its goal of building five basic schools in five years alongside Food for the Poor Jamaica.

Kind Hearts Ltd. Initiative Photo

One of Kind Heart’s biggest fundraising initiatives is the Colour Me Happy Charity Powder Run – the first run in colour introduced in Jamaica. Defined by creativity, drive and a passion for helping the less fortunate, participants of the run are some of the happiest people in Jamaica looking to have a good time and make a difference with their contribution.

Colour Me Happy Photo

Other Philanthropic Efforts

  • The Group rallied behind Food for the Poor Jamaica to collect funds and donations of canned goods and bottled water to provide aid for those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
  • In October 2016, Stewart’s participated in a Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative #DriveForTheCure with the Jamaica Cancer Society.
  • Stewart’s plays an active role in promoting job creation and training in Jamaica by being active participants in the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP); and providing work experience for student technicians at the Jamaica-German Automotive School (JAGAS) and the Ministry of Labour’ “Steps to Work” programme.
  • In 2006, Diana Stewart was Chairperson of the American Chambers of Commerce Jamaica (AMCHAM) Fund Raising and Design Committee and was instrumental in the fundraising and construction of the Grants Pen Model Community Policing and Services Centre developed in partnership with USAID, GOJ and the Private Sector. This new centre was valued at US$2.5 million dollars.
  • Stewart’s Auto Sales decided to contribute 0.5% of the total cost of every Suzuki sold, to the Economic Development Foundation of Jamaica, in 2007, in keeping with its Peace Initiative and to assist with the paying off of debts incurred whilst in the process of building AMCHAM PLACE, and purchasing additional property for parking and a Peace Park, now known as the CHASE Peace Park. In 2009, Mrs. Stewart, then the Chairman of AMCHAM Jamaica, was instrumental in hosting a successful forum on the H1N1 virus protection for Jamaica as well as a Health Safety Security Environment Conference and Economic Forum.
  • In 2008 Richard and Diana Stewart were nominated as Business Leaders of the Year by the Jamaica Observer.
  • Recognising the need for first class medical facilities, the Stewart’s Automotive Group joined a number of companies in becoming donors of The Tony Thwaites Wing Expansion at the University Hospital of the West Indies. This expansion still benefits the entire hospital. Stewarts has also been involved with health campaigns, including the National Council for Drug Abuse/Addiction Alert’s documentary “Put God First” with singer Roy Rayon and donating the profit for a car raffle for keeping an AIDS Hospice open in the fight against AIDS.
  • Stewart’s has always been supporters as well as a sponsors of Jamaican Sports and the Arts. The Group is a proud sponsor of Usain Bolt’s Racers Grand Prix. Additionally, on the Reggae Boyz’s “Road to France,” Suzuki Jamaica donated the proceeds of three cars to the three most improved players. Stewart’s also donated a Suzuki to several Test Series for Man of the Series for West Indies cricket. The Group was also a contributor to the establishment of the reconstructed Edna Manley Health Centre.
  • Other endeavours include working alongside several missionaries such as Missionaries of the Poor and Youth With a Mission Jamaica (YWAM).

The Holy Scriptures tell us that “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done,” (Proverbs 19:17). May the kindness of the Stewart Automotive Group continue to bless Jamaica in the years to come and may God in His wisdom and grace reward them abundantly.

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Operation Restoration takes Jamaica Broilers Employees to School

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JBG PR Assistant, Karla Davis spends time reviewing numbers with the students of the Joy Town Learning Centre (a part of the Operation  Restoration Christian School)

Without books, lunch, uniforms and the payment of fees, some children from vulnerable communities oftentimes ‘drop out’ of high school, thereby losing their chance to attain a good education. Without a good education, they are less likely to make a decent living as adults and as a result may engage in anti-social, destructive behaviours. However thanks to the efforts of charity organization, Operation Restoration Christian School, working in partnership with dedicated donors such as the Jamaica Broilers Group (JBG), many children in Trench Town and the surrounding communities are being given the opportunity to not only access the educational system, but also to thrive.

On a recent visit to the School, JBG employees observed first-hand the life-changing work of the organization, whose goal is to improve the education outcomes for children enrolled in school and to facilitate further education and training for those no longer in the conventional school system. The school aims to bring secondary level students who may have fallen out of the mainstream educational system up to a Grade 9 level of performance, with the hope that they will be successful at the Grade 9 Achievement Test and streamed back into regular high schools.

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Danah Cameron, JBG Group PR & Training Officer listens keenly as Operation Restoration Christian School Representatives share their vision

As part of efforts to achieve this goal, the institution works closely with parents to ensure that students have adequate support and the best chance for success. Principal, Mr. Robert Dixon, noted that parents are therefore strategically involved in various activities including team building exercises, workshops, Christmas dinners and school trips. The dedicated Principal also frequently walks the community to meet and engage with parents about their children. “We have to bridge the gap,” he reasoned.

The basic school arm has also been making important strides in providing education for younger children, specifically in the areas of literacy and mathematics. The programmes employed at this early childhood level are cutting edge and geared toward more ‘logical’ learning approaches that are designed to assist students in grasping concepts well beyond basic school. As such the programme intends to track the progress of students as they enter mainstream primary schools in order to gauge the success of their teaching methods over the long term.

An early childhood teacher at the facility, Ms. Delphena Robinson is herself a testament of the longstanding positive impact of the facility and its founders in the community. Ms. Robinson shared that many years ago she was ‘adopted’ by one of the founders of the school, Pastor Bobby Wilmot and his family when he was conducting Street Ministry in Jones Town. She recalled that although she was the only child ‘adopted’ from her large family, Pastor Wilmot with the help of other co-founders of Operation Restoration Christian School including Bishop Peter Morgan and Major Richard Cooke supported her entire family. She recalled that when the school started in the 90s, she initially assisted with the cooking and cleaning. However, as the school progressed and the need for teachers arose, she studied and received the necessary qualifications so that she could be eligible for the position. Today Ms. Robinson stands as an inspiring example in the Trench Town community.

Delighted by the successes so far and the constructive energy of the children and teachers during the visit, the Jamaica Broilers Group employees hugged, ‘high-fived’, and played with some of the children while assisting others with their reading and mathematics lessons.  “The Jamaica Broilers Group is happy to see the positive attitudes and the educational strides that students are making at Operation Restoration Christian School,” expressed Ms. Karla Davis, Public Relations Assistant at the JBG, during the visit. She pointed out that, “Each student’s success is a success for the community, and when the community succeeds, we are that much closer to transforming our nation. That goes to the core of our vision at the Jamaica Broilers Group.”

Ms. Davis added that, “Donations from the Jamaica Broilers Group ensure that the children, teachers and other members of staff are fed daily and it is our privilege to be a part of keeping literacy and numeracy available to the children of Jamaica through support of this programme.”

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