Lorraine Vernal--family, women’s, children’s, and adolescent ministries director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica--is seeing the condition and plight of women and children in Jamaica as dire and is appealing to families to bring peace back into the home.
“Jamaica needs prayer and Christians,” says Vernal. Referencing Galatians 5:22-25, Vernal posits that many are great at talking about the Word of God, but do not live it.
According to a United Nations Women Report, 28 percent of Jamaican women have experienced intimate partner violence over their lifetime, she says. While the homicide rate for Jamaican women is nine per 100,000, it is six times higher than the world’s average of 1.6, she adds. Vernal was the main speaker at the “End it Now” initiative streamed online from the North Street Adventist Church in Kingston, under the theme ‘’Bring Peace Home: Addressing Youth Violence at its Roots” on August 28, 2021.
Vernal intimates that the incidence of violence in the country has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has served to make a bad situation worse in some families.
“Jamaica is in trouble, and if nobody is able to help Jamaica, don’t you think Christians should be able to help?” she asks. “Yes, we should be able to help.”
The situation in the country was again highlighted through information shared by the Statistical Research Department on July 5, 2021. The data revealed that Jamaica is one of the most violent countries in the Caribbean. In 2020, there were approximately 46.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in the island nation, making it the highest homicide rate in Latin America and the Caribbean that year.
Vernal invited her listeners to become part of the solution in ending violence in society by becoming advocates in order to help others.
“There are people who need us,” she implored; “there are people who are crying and need our help. We cannot afford to remain silent.”
In giving advice to children to protect themselves from abusers, Vernal encouraged them not to remain silent on the subject of abuse: “If someone is making you uncomfortable, make noise, scream out, or find somebody to tell.”
For the past 15 years, women’s ministries leaders across Jamaica have been active in speaking out against the prevalent violence against women and children in Jamaica through special awareness initiatives, marches, and dozens of activities.
In his greetings during the virtual service, Pastor Everett Brown, president of the president for church in Jamaica, said, “As members and leaders of the church we have a moral duty and responsibility to be advocates of this initiative to end abuse and violence…End it now.”
He added, “At the root of all violence and abuse in the home, the world, and our community is sin. And until we eradicate sin from our home, we will not eradicate violence and abuse in our community and society.”
He encouraged everyone to seek a relationship with Jesus Christ because “until Jesus becomes the center of our lives, where we learn to respect and love each other, we will not be able to see the end of violence and abuse of our children and our women becoming a reality.”
Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, commended the women’s ministries leaders in the Jamaica Union Conference for leading the “End it Now” initiative in Jamaica. Grange spoke of the high level of violence taking place in the country and noted the negative impact of violence on society.
“Whether we come from uptown or downtown we have all seen and felt the effects of the high level of violence in our country,” she said. “It destroys people, it destroys families, and it destroys communities.”
Grange presented the solution to the problem as “love” and used Galatians 5:14 as the basis for her statement.
“Where there is love, there is also respect, mutual understanding, and peace,” she said.
The program concluded with a special prayer for the nation.
To watch the EnditNow virtual program held in Kingston, Jamaica, click HERE.