Dear Sisters & Brothers,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour!
This letter is sent on behalf of the Executive Committee (EC) of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) which met recently to engage and reflect on matters related to our witness as God’s called out people in this country. As we discussed some of the issues facing our country we were moved to pen this letter to our members and, more broadly, those who have made this “rock” their home.
Buoyed by biblical and theological warrants which call and challenge us to be ever mindful/caring of/for the other (Genesis 4:8-10 – ‘am I my brother’s keeper); St. Luke 10:25-37 – the good Samaritan), we lamented the state of affairs currently prevailing in our beloved country. We decried the wanton disrespect for law & order. We deplored the unrestrained disregard for the sanctity of life as evidenced by the escalating numbers of senseless, vicious and bloodcurdling killings – speaking of which we noted with distress the number of persons killed since the beginning of 2018 and extended our condolences to the affected families. We denounced the prevalence of coarseness and crassness that continue to characterize our daily exchange as a people – and this at all levels of society.
The time has come for us to move beyond an engagement in analysis, which seems to have only paralyzed us. It is not enough to keep saying enough is enough! Apathy is no longer an option…we must take stronger action NOW!
It is against that background we share the following as actions to consider and implement:
- Demonstrate our commitment to defeating the monster of crime and violence by sharing with the appropriate authorities any information concerning nefarious activities. Taking a stand against the ‘informa fi dead’ culture by committing to be silent no more is not, as some contend, an optional extra. We are conscious of some challenges that traditionally prevent us from telling what we know and so we are issuing a call to find creative ways to use our existing machineries to mobilize ourselves into a conduit for information sharing. Let us make our sanctuaries and facilities spaces where persons can feel safe to come clean, own up and experience the liberation and protection that Christ offers.
- Consider using resources such as our notice boards, bulletins, announcements, etc. to sensitize ourselves on issues that confront us as we grapple with being God’s people in God’s world. Let us seize the widening technological platforms available for dissemination to educate each other about things we can do to better be each other’s keeper and strengthen the bond of community.
- Target the rampant indiscipline on our roads. In time past we were quick to point an accusatory finger at our public transport providers but the fact is that madness & mayhem seem to have overtaken all of us on the roads. This, of course, is symptomatic of the lawlessness which has overtaken the nation and is an area in which we could successfully, without the deployment of overwhelming financial resources, symbolically put our collective foot down on the side of the rule of law. Let us begin with recommitting to being more disciplined road users; boycotting any public passenger vehicle that is abusing our road traffic laws relating to parking, speeding, overtaking, etc.; insisting that our members and visitors display regard for the rules governing our facilities’ parking and driving spaces, etc.
You may discern that one of the outworkings of our recommendations is the need to forge alliances with other believers, churches, entities - an approach that fits neatly into our upcoming two-year thematic focus – Living in Partnership.
We can and must pull ourselves back from the brink and march upwards and onwards as we did from the beginning of Baptist witness in Jamaica in 1783 to play our part in tearing down the wicked monster of slavery. In the name of Almighty God, who has blessed this country beyond our deserving, let us take a stand and fashion a future which returns God to the centre of our affairs.
Yours in the name of the God with whom all things are possible!
Karl B. Johnson