My Mission Trip To Jamaica
At first did not feel comfortable about going:
- I’d Going there to work with a group of people I did not know from FL
- I Would have to sleep in the same motel with someone I did not know
- I’d be Going to do something I never had done before
- I’d be going to work with Jamaican people I did not know anything about. In the past I only heard about the local population’s poverty.
But in my heart and mind I sensed that this was from the Lord, and that I should just get out of my comfort zone and go, so I agreed to go trusting that the Lord wanted to expand my horizon. So off I went 2 Saturdays ago.
I met the group from FL in the Atlanta Airport, and gladly they were a happy silly bunch. We got to Jamaica with no problems, with one exception; one of the older ladies from our team accidentally checked the box on the customs form saying that she was carrying weapon into the country. They checked her out, inspected her luggage and was soon released. We labelled her our Gun runner the rest of the trip.
We did not do too much in Jamaica that 1st night. Most of us were up at 3am that morning or earlier, so it was early to bed after dinner. The first room Greg and I got had a few problems. It was extremely hot out there was little air conditioning. Initially, my bed was covered with ants, and when we told the housekeeper, she swept them off and simply said, “Don’t worry they won’t bother you much” The bathroom door was broke. There was almost no hot water. So the first night sleep was hot sticky and a bit uncomfortable.
Eventually the air conditioner totally died and they moved us to another room the next day which was nicer.
That first Sunday, after breakfast we went to worship at the Negril Church of Christ where we would be holding the free clinic that week. The Jamaican people were gracious, loving and happy to see us. They definitely loved to sing. They sang a whole 15 minutes, one song after another even before their opening prayer. A great sermon was preached as well as a good Bible study was taught. After we said our good-byes, we got some lunch and got to work.
In FL, the team had purchased all kinds of over the counter pills, vitamins, pain pills, fish oil caps and more which the carried over in extra suitcases. That first Sunday afternoon we took the big bottles if pills and broke them down and put 30 pills in small plastic bags to be distributed to the people during the week. This took us all afternoon in 90 degree weather.
Besides the pills the team had purchased and also brought over all kind of tubes of creams, salves and lotions, dandruff shampoo, and eye drops, as well as hundreds of pairs of reading glasses of all different strengths, and over 400 pairs of sunglasses.
The next day after we got the church building, we got busy and set up shop. The Mandarin church hired 2 local medical doctors, a husband and wife team to work 2 days each at the clinic, as well as a local Jamaican pharmacist to distribute the drugs we bagged.
Everybody had a job to do. The Negril church had advertized the free clinic on the radio so we expecting quite a few to come. When it began at 9am, we were ready. We did not just let the people march into the building. We had a waiting area outside, and some had to wait up to 4 hours in the heat.
After one team member filled out the person’s name and address they took a seat until a spot in the church opened up. When their name was called they were asked why they came and who they wanted to see. I explained that they could see a medical doctor for a check-up or in our vision center they could also have their eyes examined and they could be fitted with a free pair of reading glasses if needed, and everyone would receive a free pair of sunglasses. Or they could go to our make-shift pharmacy and get some free over the counter drugs if that’s what they needed. Some chose to go to all 3 areas. Some only wanted sunglasses or medications.
After I filled out that part of the form I told them that the church was not only concerned about their physical needs, they were also concerned about their spiritual health and therefore had a few questions to ask them.
They were asked if they go to church, where they go, how often, if they had even been baptized, and if so how. We also told them that since they had to wait a while before they could get to the doctor or vision centers, if they had any prayer request we had people more than happy to sit and chat with them about spiritual things and pray with them. Most agreed to sit down with someone.
That was pretty much the process.. Now and then team members would switch jobs. We were also assisted by local members of the church, and there were 3 students from the Jamaica school of Preaching who assisted.
In 4 days time we saw about 350 people from the community in the clinic. Old young, blind, lame, sweet old men and ladies, prostitutes, mentally disabled, taxi drivers and people from all walks.
Everyone was cared for, treated with dignity, they all receive sunglasses, Meds were given out, and the doctors were able to help many who could not have otherwise seen a doctor.
Study teams prayed with hundreds of people. Hundred of Bible studies took place while people waited, and there were over a hundred people who requested a visit or a follow up study from the local minister. And one person was baptized.
It was very, very, hot and sticky week. Most of our shirts were soaked thru with sweat by 10am, we got a bit tired, but a lot of good was done.
There was one problem that seemingly cropped up early in the week. When the people came and sat with us to pray and we chatted with them about their walk with God the Jamaican brothers and sisters from the local church and the preacher school were WAY more aggressive in their approach than we were. We were not so concerned about preaching the whole message of Christ right then and there, rather we were more interested in setting up a follow up study. I began a study with one lady and it did not take long for me to recognize she had no interest in what I was saying, so rather than badger her I was going to let he go on her way, but then brother Nigel, a member of the Negril church, jumped in and preached to her the 5 step of the Gospel, the importance of Hearing, Believing, Confessing, Repenting, Being Baptized. He taught and pleaded with this young lady but she had no interest.
Our team later discussed this and what seemed like a problem. We agreed to talk to the local brethren about it. The next opportunity I had, I had talked with Nigel. I told him we are concerned that such an aggressive approach would scare people off. I reminded him of the parable of the soils and how some people were like that hard path and would never accept God’s word.
His response opened my eyes as well as the eyes of our mission team when I shared with them what he had to say. He told me why he and his brethren were so bold and forward. It very much had to do with his own conscious. It was conscious issue. He told me that after sitting with someone in such as setting where people were willing to pray and chat about spiritual things in their church building, he implied that he felt morally responsible to share the good news with these people weather they wanted to hear it or not. He said that he would have a hard time living with himself and then standing before our Lord after having a chance to speak to these people but not.
As he spoke I thought that I should be as bold. In the parable of the soils Jesus did say that the farmer cast the seed out, even on the hard rocky path.
Our team members were very move when they heard this.
One member, Kathryn reminded what Jeremiah wrote in Jer. 20:9 where he said,
“But if I say “I will not mention His word or speak any more in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones, I am weary of holding it in, indeed I cannot.”
That described our Jamaican brethren’s hearts and desire to serve Jesus.
I was also reminded of what Peter and John told the teachers and elders in Jerusalem in Acts 4:19-20 when they were told not to speak any more in Jesus’ name; they said,
“But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Likewise in Job we a read,
“for I am full of words and the spirit within me compels me.”
What did I learned from my trip to Jamaica? I was reminded that there are people all around us who are poor and in need. And I am not talking about just poor financially or without material possessions, rather poor spiritually.
I heard praise and songs of thanksgiving being sung by people who lived in nothing more than shacks. And those people were not afraid to tell their friends and neighbors about Jesus and share the truth of the Gospel, EVEN IF THOSE PEOPLE DID NOT WANT TO HEAR THE MESSAGE.
These people I met knew where true riches lie; Only in having a relationship with Jesus, and they just could not hold it in.
As I said earlier; we should be as bold.
People all around us are dying without Christ, and most of us don’t have the guts, the tenacity, or enough love to say anything to them, or plead with them. We simple let them slip away without saying a thing.
When I spoke to Nigel, he let me know that he did not want to stand before Jesus burdened with guilt knowing that he could have said something, or he should have said something to someone, but did not.
I pray that your spirit will be re-kindled and that you may develop a spirit of urgency like those people I met in Jamaica.