A warm Christian greeting to you.
I thank your Administration for the kind invitation to attend, and the opportunity to address, your 5th Believer’s Convention and the 167th Annual General Assembly. I am very appreciative of your warm Christian welcome.
Please allow me the opportunity to extend to your Administrator and General Secretary, Rev Karl Johnson, my commendation on the effective way in which he and his associates administer your Union.
I have had the opportunity, personally, these past 8 years, to see him at work giving leadership to this movement. And speaking of 8 years, today is eight years since I assumed my present office. I seek your prayers for the way forward, however the Lord sees it.
In my brief remarks, I wish to commend your Community of Christian Believers for the outstanding witness of salvation through Jesus Christ and the concomitant mandate to ‘do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God’. This is an expression you have heard articulated so often that it may sound trite - i.e. uninteresting and insincere. But the truth is, that is the Christian mandate and that’s what you have been doing since you started your General Assemblies in 1850, 26 years after the abolition of slavery. I suspect that in the process you were busy working for the Kingdom & “serving your Jesus,” as the spirituals says, “you ain’t got time to die.”
Might I remind everyone that we serve Jesus through:
• feeding and clothing the poor and naked,
• healing the sick,
• dispensing justice,
• mediating on behalf of the disenfranchised, and
• providing a village for the protection and support of our women and children, among the many other causes that you undertake.
You, no doubt will agree with me that Christians always have a cause for which to contend. As long as the nation is plagued by crime and violence, abuse of our women and children, injustice, poverty, non-access to basic services, et. al. the church has a reason to stand up for, and in the strength of Jesus. This, I think, is what it means to be God’s People in God’s World – Living the Sacrificial Life. Thank you for demonstrating this practically and also in your theme.
As you close this year’s Assembly and Convention, I would like to add to what you would have heard repeatedly over the past 4 days, as to what constitute ‘your duty of care’, not just to your faith community, but to the nation as a whole.
We are at a critical crossroad in nation building when we must ‘press every nerve’ and go forward because if we stand still and do nothing, we will reap the devastating consequences.
A few weeks ago, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, I launched the Justice Training Programme, which is intended to place in every community in this nation, a JP who is a resource person; leading, informing, educating citizens, of their rights and responsibilities, of how to access services that are available to them, and of which many are ignorant.
Many of you in this congregation are JP’s, but we need thousands more; responsible citizens of all ages, 21 years old and upwards, to offer themselves to make the difference in their communities, by developing caring law abiding citizens who will help to protect the vulnerable and instil values - principles and standards of behaviour which are important in life. In the context of this religious service, I take the opportunity to remind all of us that, ‘only what is done for Christ will last’… Freely give of your strength and talents to invest in our young people remembering, that ‘inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these...’
This year Jamaica celebrates 55 years of Independence. That tells me we are growing up, fast, and probably should be a little farther in our development. There's a spiritual that says ‘I have been in the storm too long; give me a little time to pray’. I know we have been praying - and quite a lot, but I ask that you continue, to pray with faith, and the unfailing confidence of Jesus, and work for the peace of Jamaica, since faith without work is dead.
(I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. Psa. 16:8)
God bless you, God bless your church community and its witness, and God bless and prosper Jamaica and its people.