'Just ready for the battle'
81-year-old lay preacher continues to win souls for the Lord
MONTEGO BAY, St James — DAVID in Psalm 90:10 of the Bible -- New International Version -- says, "Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow..." But for Alberga Foster, winning souls for the Kingdom has almost just started, because at 81, he is "just ready for the battle".
This lion-hearted lay preacher, who was born in Mount Zion, St James in May 1932, and received only an elementary education, has been recognised as the top lay-preacher for the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for many years, including this year.
In August, Foster was among eight lay preachers who were recognised by Northern Caribbean University for faithful and outstanding contribution to the mission of evangelism.
Foster, who is not fazed by his age, has been doing evangelistic exploits for the Seventh-day Adventist Church for over 50 years and has conducted more than 60 evangelistic series over the period, resulting in the baptism of thousands locally and regionally.
"Evangelism and soul-winning is in my blood," declared Foster. "I am a Bible man and my age does not bother me. I am feeling now like when I was about 35-40 years old. God has made me for a purpose and I am fulfilling that purpose and will continue as long as the Lord gives me life, good health and strength."
Added Foster: "I am 81 years old, and I can tell you, God's willing, I will be preaching after I am 85."
Foster, a widower and father of three children, became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church 54 years ago, and within three years became a leader in the Palmyra Church, in 1962. A carpenter by trade, he also worked with the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (WJC) for over 13 years as a Bible instructor with most of the work centred on evangelism.
"I felt a call to ministry from God," Foster explained. "I felt a drive, not just call to a church service, but a call from God Himself. I remember when I got baptised, the people in my community said I would only last for three months in the church, and here I am at my age more steadfast in the Word of God and ready to preach it anywhere."
Pastor Astor Bowers, president of WJC, said Foster has been giving faithful and dedicated service to the Conference for over 50 years.
"I regard him as the top layman of the last 20 years. We would not have achieved the evangelistic targets that we have without his contribution. I am still baffled by his age, but his energy, enthusiasm and stamina exceed his age. Younger men should take a lesson out of his book with regard to preaching the gospel," said Bowers.
Despite his hectic schedule with requests from other churches and conferences, Foster believes that the work of evangelism is far more challenging than in the earlier days, as he believe there is need for more spiritual strength and fortitude for the youth as well as the adults. He argues that the various moral and social ills facing Jamaica are not surprising as he believes that "Jamaica is where it is because our people have, and still are breaking away from the laws of God."
Hermin Vaz, who has known Foster since 1997, sees him as a spiritual person and a hard worker of God.
"When he peaches even a little baby can understand," said Vaz. "He is a people-person and very down-to-earth. He loves people and will go to the utmost and do everything he can to change a person's life for the better in Christ."
"He is a strict person whom I love to listen preach," said Wilmore Smith, an elder at Little Ease Adventist Church. " He has a way of getting his message across like no one else. I came into the church through his influence. He is always willing to help, even though his work scheduled hectic. His relationship with everyone is the same, no favouritism, and he is seen as a genuine, humble and selfless individual who doesn't do anything for fame."