RR esponding to the economic challenges facing many people, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica has assisted hundreds of families in need among its members and community residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 400 families have benefited from over US $215,000 provided by the Jamaica Union, each of its five conferences, the Adventist-Layperson Service and Industry (ASI), Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Jamaica, and local congregations through April and May.
“Though the church faces financial uncertainty, it is still imperative to share with those in need,” says Pastor Everett Brown, president of the church in Jamaica. “As I relate daily to people, I realize more and more how great the needs are for persons at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder. We cannot be insensitive to the welfare needs of the most vulnerable in our society, and so we are happy for the privilege to help humanity in whatever way we can.”
In order to fight the pandemic, the Jamaican government, like many others worldwide, closed its borders, which impacted international travel and local commercial activities. This prompted the response from the church community as individuals, inclusive of church members who were negatively impacted.
“Even with decreasing income, we are mindful of our vulnerable members and community individuals, so we have purchased basic food items to supplement what each pastoral district and local congregation will be able to put together,” says Pastor Glen Samuels, president of the church in western Jamaica. “Notwithstanding the intensified worldwide spread of COVID-19, we hold on together trusting in our never-failing God.”
The distributions of care packages were done in each conference through many of their 750 local congregations in the various communities. Care packages included groceries and toiletries, and many of the local churches added other components such as shoes and clothing where these were needed.
“The care package was a much-needed contribution at this time,” stresses Sonia Rowe of the Siloah Seventh-day Adventist Church, in St. Elizabeth. “It was good and well-appreciated.”
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has reported that the equivalent of 1.5 million full-time jobs is expected to be lost in the Caribbean during the second quarter of this year due to the impact of COVID-19.
“We need to ensure that we continue to reach out to the poor, the vulnerable, and the elderly in our community,” says Pastor Eric Nathan, president of the church’s eastern region in Jamaica, “especially during this time, as many of them are not able to come out due to restrictions on movement due to their age. I hope this gesture will dispel the myth that the church is doing nothing for the people.”
The pastors in the 54 pastoral districts of the Jamaican church’s central region have been sent on a mission of care, compassion, connection, safety, and love by its president, Pastor Levi Johnson.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica operates five conferences, 750 congregations comprising more than 300,000 members, 27 primary and secondary schools, a university, and a hospital.