"More Than Often..."
It's certainly no secret that Peg and I love Jamaica. We've been there many times, a half dozen or so mission trips, another 5 or 6 times on vacations, once stopping over on a cruise. And, as with the more interesting places we've been, we've accumulated a cadre of friends whom we love, there.
You may recall the post I did some time back about Keri-Ann Bethune. I met her and her daddy, Merrick, on my first trip there in 1992, and have known and loved them ever since. Keri-Ann was a little child when I met her and now she's a computer trained math teacher in a High School there. She's also the Youth Coordinator at Red Hills Baptist Church, and Merrick plays guitar in the church services. They've taught me more than I'll ever be able to repay.
Mostly about me.
There are others, too. Jasmine, a single lady who opens her small cliff-hanging house to us when we're there and serves the best fruit punch and soursop drink in the world. And has a constant heart-warming smile.
Alphanso Blake, now a noted Jamaican artist whose work can be found on the internet. He is a terrific drummer, too, a good worship leader and can pray like no one I've ever heard.
The list goes on.
More than often: that's a remark made by a police officer on a series of videos I just finished watching: Gangs In Jamaica. It referred to the frequency of murders like the one he was investigating.
****EDIT NOTE: YOUTUBE HAS DELETED THE VIDEOS FORMERLY LINKED TO HERE. IF THEY BECOME AVAILABLE IN THE FUTURE, I'LL MODIFY THE LINK ACCORDINGLY****
The video was done by a British reporter, Ross Kemp. Keri-Ann sent me the link and said I'd find it interesting. I did .. it's been a while since something like this moved me to tears.
This one did. Those are my friends. I love those people. And despite the ugliness and horror you'll see if you watch them, there's a beauty and potential in those folks that my heart cries out to find a way to tap. They can be professional people like Keri-Ann, they can be accomplished artists like Alphanso, they can have their own little home like Jasmine. Or they can be a brickmason providing for their family, as did my friend Deacon Percival Douse, one of the finest gentlemen of any color I've ever met.
Deacon Douse, now that I brought him up, is such an inspiration. He's a pillar at Red Hills, living about 2 miles away. Not only is the church atop a high hill, but the road running down to Deacon Douse's home is all downhill, too. He has no car, but he's at church Sunday morning & night and Wednesday night, too. And for meetings when required.
He walks. And did I mention he is perhaps 70-75 years old?
It is out of the same culture that produced what you'll see in the videos, that Red Hills Baptist Church was raised up. A testimony to the power and love of God, and one which has so many answers for the hopelessness and fatalism reflected in the video.
And the same culture produced the Jamaica Baptist Union which last year had 25% of their MEMBERS at their annual meeting!
More than often: it really, really is. In this case, it means one murder every six hours!
Six hours! Four times a day, every day, some potential teacher, computer whiz, brickmason, takes an unexpected trip to eternity. Most likely, to an eternity in torment. Despite the best efforts of good people like Keri-Ann, Jasmine, Percival, Alphanso.
If hell isn't worse than what you see those folks on the video living, it'd be bad enough that no one ever should want to go there, if even for a moment.
Certainly not for eternity.