80 ways to help
MONTEGO BAY, St James – To mark its 80th anniversary next year, the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists will award scholarships to 80 students and members of the congregation have been tasked with providing food to 80 needy families each week.
The initiatives were outlined by the religious group’s president, Pastor Glen Samuels, on Sunday during the Western Leadership Conference and Constituency Leadership Meeting. The gathering of local church departmental leaders was held at the Seventh-day Adventist Conference Centre in Mount Salem, St James.
“Today we launch the official reflection and celebration of the original formation of West Jamaica [Conference] …1944 to 2024 will give us 80 years. And so throughout this coming year… we are putting resources together for the offering of 80 scholarships to 80 needy students from high school to tertiary level,” Samuels announced.
He also provided details on the help that will be offered to families to ensure that “they can have something for the week”.
“I believe that together as a church we can help ease the suffering of those in our territory. You already know we have purchased food items to send to our 248 congregations. Separate and apart from that, we send food to our four parishes,” Samuels disclosed.
He explained that these initiatives will be complemented by a renewed focus on “evangelistic awareness”.
“Social programmes by themselves cannot change the hearts of mankind. It is only the spirit of the living God that can produce conversion in the heart of the criminals,” said the man of the cloth.
During the meeting, he also spoke about some of the work that they have already done to help youngsters in gritty neighbourhoods.
“Just over the last year, July 2022 to July 2023, we have continued our partnership with troubled communities, especially through our mentorship programme,” Samuels said.
“And separate and apart from our policy requirement that requires the church to assist in the funding of education from the primary school level up to NCU [Northern Caribbean University]… we have spent over $29.7 million only on mentorship education. Apart from the persons that we are required to assist, we looked at struggling students that have the academic potential but do not have the parental provision or the monetary ability to assist them. These are the persons who have benefitted,” the clergyman said.
He explained that while most of those helped are children of church members, many are “not members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and some do not go to any church at all”.
“We believe that we are called the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We believe that especially the matter of behavioural change, the transformation of the human heart, the changing of the human heart, is a function that only Almighty God can bring about through the cooperation of transformed church members,” Samuels declared.
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang and Member of Parliament for St James West Central, Marlene Malahoo Forte, in whose constituency the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists falls, were among those who spoke glowingly of the work it has done over the years.
Dr Chang thanked them for the work they have done in transforming the lives of wayward youngsters and told them he will be calling on them for even more work.
Malahoo Forte, who spoke of the difference the church has made in the sometimes troubled community of Mount Salem, described it as a “place of healing for the broken [that] continues to be an oasis for those who need to be refreshed”.
Dr Andre Haughton, who will represent the Opposition People’s National Party in the constituency during the next general election, also lauded the religious institution for the work it has done and urged members to continue its message “that peace is more fulfilling than war”.