An apology has the power to heal
US Embassy in Jamaica

"A good apology is like an antibioti " — Randy Pausch

For those who are too young to know or remember, please allow me to stir your minds. Wikipedia, the free people's online encyclopaedia, records that: "In 2009 the United States first asked the Jamaican Government for the extradition of [Christopher] Coke on drug trafficking charges. Bruce Golding, the prime minister of Jamaica and leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, initially refused to extradite Coke. He claimed that the US had used warrantless wiretapping to gather evidence on Coke… But PM Golding [eventually] relented and the Government issued a warrant for Coke's arrest… Coke was detained during a routine roadblock while trying to reach the US Embassy in Kingston for surrender. He attempted to disguise himself as a woman, wearing a woman's wig and possessing a second one and a pair of women's sunglasses… Reverend Al Miller, an influential evangelical priest, was also detained while trying to facilitate the surrender. Miller told police Coke feared for his life if he surrendered directly to the police, and [he] was asked for aid by Coke. Miller had previously facilitated the surrender of Coke's brother one month earlier."

It was a challenging and costly ordeal, which ended in an unjust charge and fine. But in retrospect, a necessary path. For firstly, I believe that God allowed me to suffer the experience of going through the justice system to taste the injustice that exists so that I could better continue to fight the cause of justice for all, especially the poor. For we all agree that justice and truth are the main pillars on which we build our nation as our anthem declares.

Then secondly, I must admit that as my physical and spiritual family and I endured the ordeal, we felt wounded and hurt by the manner in which some church leaders responded to the situation, in both public and private domains. We experienced the truth of Robert Brault's statement that, "Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got." We learnt to accept and continue our calling of facilitating God's kingdom and His will done here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Then, on Sunday, November 5, 2023, we received a blessing from God through the kind words of a brother and bishop, Neville Owens, who attended a commitment and dedication meeting that we had at Fellowship Tabernacle.

Bruce Golding

His words still heal like an antibiotic. He said, "This day could not end without a public apology. We have hurt you… We have said and done things… we have made utterances, we have broken covenant, we have violated trust, [and] we have left you exposed when we should have galvanised you and undergirded you and supported you… We have left you wounded and scared on the Samaritan way… So the Lord said He would wave away the reproach of Egypt [and] may the Lord roll away the reproach from Al Miller — accusations, insinuations — and may the Lord lift all burdens from your shoulder…"

I formally, on behalf of my family and the Fellowship Tabernacle community, express deep appreciation to the church community for the apology extended, led by Bishop Owens, on behalf of the Independent Churches of Jamaica (ICJ) and many leaders of other groups and churches across the nation, some of whom also called. Sincere thanks to all. I and many others were moved to tears by the healing power of the apology.

Let me take this opportunity to say to the many who have had unanswered questions and wondered if there was any unsavoury activity in Coke's surrender. Be assured that previous dialogue with all relevant authorities had occurred about his surrender, the US Embassy was informed and agreed to accept his handover (surrender), and know that there was no attempt to elude the police, neither was there any speed chase with the police. It was a smooth handover.

My regret and apologies for any disappointment caused to some from the misinformation communicated to the public, which resulted in misunderstandings.

Christopher "Dudus" Coke wearing a wig

Now similar to the impact of the apology in helping to provide healing for many in the Church community, a forum for truth and forgiveness would help to heal the wounded souls of our nation, which I believe is a major contributor to the worsening crime, cold and callous violence destroying our nation, wounds which for the most part we try to ignore as we attempt to accept apologies that were never offered.

A wounded nation is still hurting, even though some were wounded in the 70s, 80s and 90s, etc as our country wrestled philosophical, political, financial, and gang-related differences. The passing of time does not often heal wounds, apologies do.

May the Church, as it did for me, lead in creating a forum for healing of the wounds of our nation. Special appreciation to Bishop Herro Blair and Dr Henley Morgan, who stood with me throughout this journey. We certainly have more work to do, my brothers, in healing the wounds of our nation.

I also give thanks to God for the timing of this, as it facilitates a better atmosphere and allows for clarity as we are actively working on the pursuit of the completion of my divine assignment to assist the work of the transformation of our nation.

OWENS... this day could not end without a public apology

We have reviewed and been doing much work on the previously Church-led initiative through the Build Jamaica Foundation of long ago and are again engaging all sectors in a renewed and restructured transformation process dubbed Jamaica Reimagined. This effort proposes that we commit as a nation to making Jamaica 60 to 70 a decade of national reconstruction, the end of which is to see the preferred Jamaica emerge. We solicit your fullest support.

Our greatest days are ahead of us. The saga of the ordeal has been challenging. And though it seems to have caused delay in the positive transformation of our nation, it only serves to prepare for a better end, for this I give thanks.

All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Reverend Al Miller is pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle.

Al Miller

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