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St John's Church of the Nazarene bearing fruits at 25

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT Sunday Observer Writer hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2013    

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IMPACTING community, nation and the world is the driving force behind the ministry of the St John's Green Acres Church of the Nazarene as they celebrate their 25th anniversary as one in God.

The church's mission statement reinforces the need for community ministry, as it clearly states that it is not about programmes, but rather about people and the destiny of their immortal souls, and as such they exist primarily to lead people into a relationship with Jesus Christ to facilitate their holistic growth and development both as individuals and disciples of Christ, equipped for Christian service.

Green Acres, as the church is commonly called, is nestled in the hills at the entrance of the said St Catherine community. Last Sunday's worship service was used to encourage brethren to manifest the divine light that God has given them.

Church pastor, Valin Smith, used lessons from St Matthew to illustrate to his congregation that as Christians they were to be the light of the world.

"You are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid," he said while uttering the verse from Matthew Chapter 5.

The Church of the Nazarene, driven by three major departments -- Nazarene Missions International (NMI), Nazarene Youth International (NYI) and the Sunday School department -- has as its main mission, holiness unto the Lord.

Green Acres, through that philosophy will use their 25th year to make a difference in and around the communities that neighbour the church, outlining four objectives that will guide the celebrations.

"We had our launching service in January and we did a community project where a two-bedroom house was built and will be used to provide shelter for a family in need. On September 28 we will have our 5k Fun Run and we will conclude the milestone year of the church with a banquet on November 30, which will be held on the church grounds," Smith said.

Smith said that the health fair and 5k Fun Run will be used to start a partnership with the Fraser's Content Development Foundation, seeking to impact the lives of the residents there.

"This community fair will mark the inclusion of the church in a community intervention programme for the troubled community of Fraser's Content, popularly known as Red Pond. As a ministry we want to impact the community first and by extension the nation. We will meet on the church grounds at 6:30 and run from the top of St John's Road to the church, then go over to Fraser's Content where the fair will be held," he said.

Smith said that the cost to participate in the run is $500 and the money will go towards the Brown's Scholarship Fund, which was named in honour of the church's founding pastor, Joseph Brown and wife Erline, to help fund children from primary level education to the tertiary level. He said that the run will become an annual event aimed at assisting needy persons with medications and regular health care.

The pastor further added that his church's ministry was by no means limited to one area and aims to influence good in the lives of the citizens of Jamaica.

"We are not subjected to one demographic area. This partnership will make a difference and as a church we aim to change people's lives and once people's lives are changed, the world will be different," Smith said.

The NMI's goal is to mobilise the church in mission through praying, discipling, giving, and educating. It has been sticking to that goal for the church's 25th anniversary to impact the community, nation and the world.

According to Smith, the missions arm of the church has adopted a family that consists of a single mother with four children and provide them with groceries and other basic amenities to survive.

"The NMI adopted a single family and has been working to ensure that they can make ends meet and live comfortably," he said.

Smith said that the NYI ministry is moving to use sports as a tool to reach the youth in Green Acres and by extension communities that surround the area.

"We have started a football ministry here, to gather youths, mainly young men who may have nothing doing to occupy their time and minister to them, it is better than to see them kneading their hand middles on walls or at the corner of streets," he said.

Smith's wife Desreen further explained that the women in the church have been impacting the community through their Women of Worth (WOW) ministry.

She said that the ministry, which she has led for the past two years, had implemented a feeding programme where groceries are given to needy families at the end of each month.

"The feeding programme from the WOW ministry seeks to help not only members of our church but persons from the community at large."

Smith said that the concept was thought of by a male member of the church. He believed that women were better planners and shoppers and he sold the idea to the group and they have been working towards making it a success ever since.

Smith said that the group caters to the needs of women with presentations on issues that affect women, like breast cancer and in general, finding one's purpose in life.

She further added that WOW places priority on outreach programmes and raises funds to support these ventures.

"We visit children's homes and infirmaries, particularly the Spanish Town Infirmary, and treat individuals in these institutions while spreading the gospel to them. The group (WOW) often has fund-raising events to assist with these projects," Smith said.

Pastor Smith said that the major activity for the 25th year was to win at least 25 souls for Christ and leave an indelible mark in the Fraser's Content community. He said that the words of the Church of the Nazarene, Jamaica East District Superintendent has resonated with him and he will use it to guide his steps in ministry.

"Reverend Ronald Grey always said that if the presence of your church is not being felt in the community and making an impact on the community, then you nah say nutting and that's the absolute truth. For our 25th year we want our presence and the presence of the Lord to be felt more in St John's Road, Green Acres and in St Catherine," Smith said.

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