NERMC UCYAAM – A Voice in the Wilderness!
The spirit of the Lord is upon me…to proclaim the [Good News] to those who have lost hope.”
– Isaiah 61 (paraphrase)
Imagine going to bed without the slightest thought of danger and waking up shortly after midnight to chaos, fire, and murder. This was the reality for the residents of Tredegar Park, St. Catherine, Jamaica a few years ago on Friday, August 13, 2010. The headlines read:
Eight killed in Tredegar Park: Two alleged perpetrators shot dead by police
(Read the article in the Jamaica Observer here.)
The entire nation was in shock and outrage. Churches in the community and national organisations such as the Peace Management Initiative reached out to residents, organising walk-throughs and other activities which sought to establish healing and hope. Soon however, it was back to “normal,” albeit a new normal, in the community. But in May 2011, letters from the North Eastern Regional Mission Council United Church Young Adults Action Movement (NERMC UCYAAM) showed up in the mailboxes of ministers in nearby churches, seeking their support and prayers. The letters read as follows:
May 27, 2011
RE: EVANGELISTIC SERVICE TREDEGAR PARK
The members of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands Young Adults Action Movement for the North Eastern Regional Mission Council hereby formally notify you of our intention to undertake an outreach project in the Tredegar Park area of St. Catherine. As a group we have visited the community, taken part by supporting them in their youth club and football competition, and have also been in dialogue with a few of the ministers within that region along with the Citizen Association.
In their rationale for the community outreach, the NERMC UCYAAM Executive declared:
The group would like to do three things:
- We would want to meet with the residents to see how we can assist them in whatever way we can. So we would want to talk with the members of the community.
- We would want to do a street march to make declarations at different points within the community (reclaiming the community for Jesus).
- The group would culminate the day’s event with a street meeting.
What does the group hopes to achieve? The group hopes that:
- Lives will be transformed.
- Some physical and or emotional needs of residents will be met.
- God’s power will move so that the community will never be the same again.
Point to Ponder:
Many a life is lost without a word of encouragement from a friend. Many a person is dying for the want of someone to share God’s love with them. While they invoked the help of their ministers, the young adults who reached out to the community in Tredegar Park were lay members from congregations near and far. However, they heeded God’s call and understood their mission to be the voice of Jesus in a ministry of reconciliation. Indeed, the NERMC UCYAAM has realized its dream, becoming a voice of hope in a wilderness of broken dreams and dashed hopes, speaking life over the death knell of violence, declaring the day of the Lord to those who would care to heed the invitation.
As you consider your call to ministry, have you ignored the hurting or the broken along the way? How do you respond to the “other” in the wilderness of life?
Read more articles in this series.