A Happy New Year to you. God has been so good to us and he has taken us through another year.
First of all, let me commend the leaders of The Power of Faith Ministries International and the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches for responding to God’s guidance for the organization of this Annual National Gathering. I welcome this opportunity for us to come together at the start of the New Year to pray earnestly for Jamaica, Land we love, and I thank you for inviting me to share with you this morning.
I am glad to be in your presence today and to be able to share this pulpit with my friend Bishop Davis. I must admit that this is the first time I am speaking from this pulpit. I have always admired Bishop Davis on the television – Bishop, you make it look so easy.
This gathering is a powerful indication to all, and in particular the skeptics among us, that the people of God, regardless of the differences in their theological understanding of scriptures, can and do come together in demonstration of the strength, unity and singleness of purpose in their service to their Master. Participating in this morning’s function are the representatives of approximately ninety percent of the churches in Jamaica. This proves the common mission of the Church and it also confirms the need for its collaboration in addressing the moral and spiritual needs which significantly impact on the socio-economic fabric of our nation.
The theme for this convention: “Heal the Family – Heal the Nation”, was no doubt selected after careful and prayerful contemplation. It is a recognition and an admission that all is not well in our country. When we say “all is not well in our country”, invariably the first things which come to mind are unemployment, the economy, crime and its effects on the safety and security of our people. These are some of the things that we think are not right with Jamaica.
But your theme speaks to the very things that are not right with Jamaica. It speaks to the family as pivotal to the health of our nation; where there is no family, there is no nation:
- Threats to the strength of the family and family life – broken homes, poor parenting, absentee fathers, peer pressure, drug abuse, indiscipline, among others;
- The need for peace and healing among family members and between families – through dialogue, respect for each other, reconciliation, and other conflict resolution methods;
- The importance of families as the building blocks of the community and the nation is very significant and therefore ultimately acknowledging that strong, stable families are essential to the wellbeing of the nation.
So my brothers and sisters in Christ, I seize every opportunity to reiterate my belief that what is right with Jamaica can be used to fix what is wrong with Jamaica. We do what is right this morning by bringing to God our concern for our nation and our commitment to work together for the healing of our families and our nation.
As many of you would know, the Family is one of the three pillars of the “I Believe” Initiative, which I launched in 2011. That initiative is centred on the belief in Jamaica and Jamaicans which I declared in my inaugural address in 2009. The three pillars were selected after intensive, broad-based consultations with Jamaicans which showed that these were the three critical sectors which they believed are crucial for the future well-being of our nation.
In the end, all three are about youth, education and family. We must nurture and educate our youth to secure the Jamaica we envision. The nurturing begins with good parenting and so the honing of parenting skills is the IBI’s focus under the Family pillar. We hope for partnership with church and community groups which are already involved in imparting parenting skills or those groups which would wish to begin this ministry, to help take it all across Jamaica. We must heal our families in order to heal our nation.
Healing our families will have such a positive ripple effect, that Jamaica will see our citizens respecting each other and reflecting a sense of togetherness and caring. They will respond to the fact that they are their brother’s keeper – we are our brother’s keeper. This is the Jamaica in which we want to live, work, raise our children and do business! This is our national vision which we must make our reality by 2030, if not before! I am confident that we can achieve that vision and I hope that you share my confidence and the faith that under God, we shall achieve even more than we have dared to dream for Jamaica. “Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for his children.”
We can only have this level of confidence and faith because of God’s promise to us as recorded in the familiar verse in the second book of Chronicles:
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The Church fully understands its critical role and responsibility in securing God’s promised healing for our land. This must be a time for decisive action by the Church, in its role as God’s vessel for the healing which our nation so desperately needs. There is an intense battle that is going on for the hearts and minds of our young people. Are you aware of it? We have to jump in that battle and fight valiantly and be quick about it. Each of you should say “at the front of the battlefield you will find me”. The Church knows that the family is under attack as it is in the centre of the battlefield. Healing the family is therefore of paramount importance!
Ladies and gentlemen, our nation’s growth and development requires that you and I be active participants in the process. Our prayers today should lead to a renewed, zealous commitment to this our land which our Eternal Father has chosen to bless us with. Let us be good stewards and, when departing, leave behind us footprints in the sand of time.
May God hear our prayers and respond according to His divine will!
I thank you.