Spiritual Plea

Salvation Army top man calls for Jamaica to be made a place of choice

Senior staff reporter

Monday, October 15, 2018

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Territorial commander of the Salvation Army in the Caribbean, Commissioner Devon Haughton, yesterday urged Jamaicans to celebrate National Heritage Week, this week, by protecting the country's heritage and supporting the efforts to make it a place of choice.

“We must again [seek to] become the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business,” he urged the congregation at the annual National Heritage Week Thanksgiving Church Service at Fellowship Apostolic Church, Camp Road in Kingston.

“What has driven us down the road of wanton selfishness, greed, coarseness, all kinds of scamming, nepotism, 'bandoolooism', and murdering family members?” Commissioner Haughton asked.

“Our heritage must be protected, and it is when we see each person as a sister and brother, and each person's grief is our own, we will understand that we have so much to thank God for,” the commissioner charged.

The service, which marked the beginning of National Heritage Week celebrations, attracted a full house of worshippers, including Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport (MCGES) Olivia Grange, whose ministry hosted the event through the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission.

Other special guests included: Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson, who represented Prime Minister Andrew Holness and read the first lesson; Opposition spokesman and Member of Parliament for the host constituency, St Andrew South Eastern, Julian Robinson, who represented Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips and read the second lesson; Alando Terrelonge, the minister of state in the Ministry of Culture; and Custos of St Andrew Dr Patricia Dunwell, who represented the governor general, Sir Patrick Allen, and delivered his message.

In the message from the governor general, Dr Dunwell said that National Hero Marcus Garvey best captured the essence of the week-long celebrations when he stated, “A people without a knowledge of their history and culture were like a tree without its roots.”

“Amidst the disturbing stories of man's inhumanity to man, we use the opportunity of Heritage Week and Heroes' Day to celebrate the heroes' sacrifices and the national pride of our people,” she read.

In her message, Grange said that the theme for the week called on all Jamaicans to recognise, that though the forefathers may have travelled to Jamaica from various lands, “they have all endured and helped to lay the foundation on which we stand today”.

“We are all one people with a united heritage; all that our collective forefathers embodied,” she said.

“As we observe Heritage Month, our resolve is to ensure that we acknowledge and respect all of those things that make us Jamaican, and that we pay due regard to the things that define us as a nation,” she added.

Commander Haughton also focused on the theme for Heroes' Week, noting that it was an opportunity for Jamaicans to thank God for his faithfulness and leadership of the nation.

He said that the call for “one love” was not just a slogan to greet each other, but a call rooted in God and therefore divine.

“It is futile to find love without the almighty God,” he said, using Psalms 33:12 as his point of reference.

“We were never called to be a nation that steals from each other; wantonly abuse and murder our children, women and those who are vulnerable. In fact, as a people, we were taught to love,” he argued.

“Give the love to those who 'bad-drive' you on the nation's roads and turn around and abuse you. Give the love to those who make promises and fail to keep them. Give the love to those who hurt those near to you in the past.

“This one love is contagious. This one love has a boomerang effect. You send it out and it will return to you bringing in the sheaves.

“It is time that we accept God as the source of this one love and start expressing it to one another that we can live as one family,” he added.

He also urged Jamaicans to consider themselves as one family, on the basis of their heritage.

“Our motto — 'Out of many, one people' — is more than a cliché: It is the driving force of our existence as a nation,” he said.

“Our culture is mixed with an ethically diverse society, stemming from a history of the inhabitants. Therefore, the arguments about 'browning and black' that still exist, along with where you come from and where you are going, are irrelevant, as the focus is on protecting all of us.

“In one family, every member is important and respected, and I want to emphasise that because some people only see persons who can help them as their family, they don't see those who are vulnerable, and they are ashamed of some of the people we have in the family.

“You might be struggling financially or emotionally or psychologically, or any other 'allys'; there is a place for you in this family. There are those who go off track, but when they go off track we don't abandon them and say you are no more a part of this family.

“We need to help those who don't understand what needs to be done to live within the family unit, but they are still family. You might be living in the streets, but you are my sister and you are my brother, and we must, in the name of God, build back the national family,” he concluded.

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