THE Adventist Resource Centre (ARC), a facility geared towards the empowerment of the less fortunate, was officially dedicated during a service at the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manchester, recently.
The Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church, which started the operation of the ARC in August 2011, said it has helped young men to give up the option of guns and crime; prostitutes have left the cold of the night and found the warmth of Christian love and opportunity to a better life their lives; and persons contemplating suicide have started to dream again.
"At the ARC we give individuals the opportunity to unleash their full potential and to take hold of their lives and stand on a path to success," said Greg Baldeo, Pastor of the Mandeville Adventist Church.
"We are not giving a free ride; we are helping individuals to drive themselves. Therefore, when you are enlisted in the ARC, it's not to get free clothes and food. It's for you to acquire a skill and an education. We teach you how to fish instead of constantly giving you a fish," said Pastor Baldeo.
The church said the facilty seeks to take care of the physical, mental, social and spiritual aspect of individuals and encapsulates an educational programme, offering nine Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects. There are approximately 200 students now enrolled at the facility, with approximately 85 per cent of them non-Seventh-day Adventists, the church said.
The resource centre also has offers skills training, including sewing classes, and gives professional counseling to victims of domestic violence and other family life related problems at no cost.
High school drop out Joan Powell, 41, was very grateful for the help at the ARC, assisting her get Grade 2 passes in three out of four CSEC subjects she sat in May this year, despite her visual impairment.
"I thank the teachers who were so patient with me during classes," said Powell. "The students were quite helpful, too, as they helped me on many occasions when I had difficulty getting the notes off the board. I knew the exams would be very challenging for me, but two ladies helped significantly by reading the questions, so I could then write the answers."
"I encourage those who have started the programme to continue and never give up and for those who are struggling to find a way out in life, ARC is the place to be enrolled," she added.
An elated Marsha Lee-Crawford also gave her testimony of the goodness of ARC after achieving her first CSEC subject, a Grade 1 in English A at age 34.
"Pastor Baldeo, I can say to you today that you have not only taught me to fish, but you and your dedicated team also gave me a fishing rod and bait and I was successful in catching my first fish, English A at Grade 1," she said to thunderous applause from the congregation.
Lee-Crawford, who is also a high school 'drop out' from Grade 8, will be doing mathematics, accounts and social studies in CSEC next year, and will attempt biology. Her plan is to attend university and achieve her goal of becoming a nurse.
"We are pleased with what is being done here at the Mandeville Church and by extension the parish of Manchester," said Pastor Levi Johnson, President of Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. "We believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a mission and mandate to make sure that those person with whom we minister to, we don't only cater for the spiritual aspect of their lives but we also we cater holistically for these individuals."
Pastor Johnson said, however, that for ARC is to be successful it would need the partnership and collaboration of everyone.
Owned and operated by the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist since August 2011, the facility has been a pillow of support to many. Because of ARC, young men have given up the option of guns and crime; prostitutes have left the cold of the night and found the warmth of Christian love and opportunity to a better life their lives; and persons contemplating suicide have started to dream again.
National Security Minister and Member of Parliament for Central Manchester Peter Bunting and Member of Parliament for North East Manchester Audley Shaw both commended the church for the opening of the ARC.