Jamaica Observer / MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Seventh-day Adventists and the wider Christian community have been challenged to make Jamaica positively exceptional again by incorporating outreach programmes that reflect their stewardship responsibilities for all facets of the lives of Jamaicans. The challenge came from Professor Alvin Wint while delivering the main address at the Recognition and Awards Ceremony for the Year of the Adventist Worker at the Northern Caribbean University here on Wednesday.

Using data for the period 1960 – 2016, Wint argued that Jamaica’s poor economic performance since 1960 compared to other countries within and outside the Caribbean region is largely a result of Jamaica experiencing greater levels of macro-economic and macro-social instability relative to countries like Costa Rica, Panama, Mauritius, Barbados, St Kitts and Singapore, all of which had a lower income per person than Jamaica in 1960, but each of which now has an income level much higher than Jamaica’s.

“Jamaica’s churches have programmes of welfare that feed and clothe those in need, but they need to do more. The Adventist Church, for example, has an expansive health programme which it needs to deploy throughout the country so persons can enjoy a healthier lifestyle, live longer and alleviate some of the strain currently placed on the public health system.”

He pointed to the fact that given Jamaica’s particular circumstances, the faith-based community needs to have outreach programmes on environmental stewardship, as Jamaica is now also experiencing the impact of worsening environmental degradation, which creates for key communities across the Island an almost existential risk in the face of the weather-related challenges occasioned by climate change.

He further challenged the church with its various locations islandwide to get involved in dispute resolution, parenting and financial management outreach programmes in support of the country’s crime and fiscal management initiatives.

“This is critical because one can safely assume that in such a religious country, with more churches per square mile than any other, the devil can be expected to have a particular evangelical interest. Such programmes would complement the church’s traditional role in personal spiritual evangelism, even as the current state of Jamaica, with the demonic forces seemingly arrayed against the country, place ever more importance on the growing trend for churches, and even the State, to spend meaningful time in prayer for the nation.”

Two hundred and seven workers from across the church’s schools, university, health institution and facilities, publishing ministry, conferences and union headquarters were recognised and awarded for long and outstanding services ranging from 11 to 51 years as at December 2016.

The Adventist Church in Jamaica has approximately 1,500 workers serving in two institutions — Andrews Memorial Hospital and Northern Caribbean University, eight high schools, 21 preparatory schools and six regional headquarters. It has more than 280,000 members worshipping in more than 740 congregations.

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