Imagine waking up after a restless night in what sounds like a war zone instead of a neighborhood on a beautiful tropical island. With daylight the continual hunger returns, but today if your mother can afford it, breakfast from the corner shop will be ONE slice of bread, and ONE sausage from a can of Vienna Sausages…that’s right, ONE.
My recent vacation home to Jamaica was just fabulous; reconnecting with some of the people I love most in this world, celebrating the 45th anniversary of Swallowfield Chapel, the church where I grew up, watching my old high school’s soccer team beat forever rivals, and eating Jamaican food exclusively for two weeks! Jerk pork, yellow yam, curried goat, mackerel run-down, hard dough bread, spiced bun, coconut drops… yum!
What was unexpected was the opportunity to come face to face with a reality that reminded me of the poverty that marked my early years growing up in “tenement yards’ in the inner city. One glaring difference however is the frightening amount of violence, in addition to perpetual poverty, that now marks the life of the children forced to become tough, hardened, and desensitized just to survive being raised in these communities. This has left me wrestling with the questions,
“What exactly is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ for these children, and who will tell them?”
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor…” Luke 4:18
“…As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21
Every Friday night approximately 120 boys from the Swallowfield neighborhood show up for Boys’ Club, lured by ‘scrimmage’ soccer games and a meal. In between there are Bible lessons, question and answer sessions, or prayer depending on their ages and immediate needs. At the end of the evening they walk back up the road into the hell on earth that is their daily life.
One of my “friend who sticks closer than a brother” is Dr. John Royes, one of the Caribbean’s leading pediatricians, and a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. He and his small but faithful group of mentors have been working for years to establish authentic, credible relationships with these boys to earn the right to speak into their lives. More often than not he feeds them out of his own pocket and works with the team to place, and keep them in schools, skills training centers, and jobs.
Now the mission, (and we chose to accept it), is a 2016 residential summer camp for 120 boys, their mentors, and a team of surrogate mentors from this country, willing to come alongside and share the ONE message of the gospel that could change their lives forever…HOPE.
JUST ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS SENDS ONE BOY TO CAMP FOR ONE WEEK!
So, next month I will write my $300 check payable to Swallowfield Chapel to sponsor three boys. The love of Christ, and my love for Christ compels me.
Hands down, best vacation ever! …just living the thing.
If you would like to be a sponsor, or a surrogate mentor, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how you can help.