“With God, We Will Overcome”

Although the year is rapidly slipping away, it is still in order for me to say, Happy New Year.

Her Excellency joins me in expressing our appreciation for the invitation to be a part of this Annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast.  In addition to that, I have also consented to serve as its Patron.  This function is my debut in that capacity.

It is no secret that faith and prayer have played an important role in the life of this country, as it has in my life, and I hope that you will continue this tradition.

The Leadership Prayer Breakfast is one of the three national prayer initiatives led by the Church, which occur each year, the other two being the National Day of Prayer in August, and the Prayer Vigil in December.  These three occasions complement each other and help to ‘cover’ the nation.  I believe that the earnest prayers of people in this country have prevented us from having even more chaos, confusion and hardship.

It is important that we pray for our leaders, our country and our fellow citizens.   I commend the work of the Committee, because in addition to their faith, they also do ‘good works,’ and have sponsored many projects which have improved the lives of thousands of children across the Island.   I am told that this year, the proceeds from the Breakfast will go to support outreach programmes for vulnerable children in Jamaica, and earthquake survivors in Haiti who are experiencing excruciating hardship at this time.  Please give in all the ways you can to help alleviate the suffering in Haiti, and also to rebuild their country.

Relevance of the Prayer Breakfast
Thirty years ago a group of clergymen and concerned leaders conceived the idea of the Prayer Breakfast, as a means to foster a spirit of unity, justice, peace and reconciliation in the society.  However, on this anniversary of the Breakfast, we must ask ourselves:  Is the Breakfast still relevant and achieving its objectives?

I believe the Prayer Breakfast is still relevant, as it provides an opportunity for leaders to come together at the beginning of the year to seek Divine guidance on the path to be taken, and to demonstrate corporately that we owe our life and being to a Higher Power.

Island-wide Visits
Last year at my Installation Ceremony, I promised to be the Governor-General for all Jamaica.  I consider it an important aspect of my remit to remind this nation that we are a great people who deserve to live in a great society.  During the past year, Lady Allen accompanied me across this Island as we met with students, farmers, professionals, businessmen, community leaders, principals, teacher, doctors and nurses. They came from diverse places including Bensonton and Brown’s Town in St. Ann, Folly and Fruitful Vale in Portland, Lucea in Hanover, and many other places, including Mocho in Clarendon.

Above the din of the economic pressure, the common cry from all is to address what people consider as critical fundamental issues:

  • Education,
  • Family,
  • Youth and community development.

These concerns, if not immediately addressed, will severely compromise our ability to develop as a nation.  We cannot blind our eyes or look away nonchalantly.

We must become the village for our children and in the process parent the next generation of leaders.

Unity of Purpose
I believe that if we do not unite around anything else, we must unite to save our families and our children.

“Broken families and broken children produce broken nations.”

We need unity in our homes, schools, churches, and our nation.

“It is not beyond us to find common ground on which to engage each other.”

It is in moments like these that we have the grand opportunity to seize the day and move forward with our faces to the sun, not looking back on past hurts.  We do not know how the journey will end, all we know is that we have to trust each other, and trust our God to guide us into the unknown.

The words of Isaiah 62: 6 and 7 may be paraphrased quite appropriately for Jamaica:

“Be a watchman on the walls of Jamaica.  Let your voice be heard day and night.  Give yourself no rest in calling on the Lord until He makes Jamaica the praise of the earth”

Ladies and gentlemen, as we join in prayer for the nation and each other this morning,  I share with you the appeal of William Arthur Ward,  which I think is quite apropos to our context:

  • Do more than belong:  participate.
  • Do more than care:  help.
  • Do more than believe:  practice.
  • Do more than be fair:  be kind.
  • Do more than forgive:  forget.
  • Do more than dream:  work.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you.