The Most Honourable Andrew Holness ON, MP
13th Annual Heal the Family, Heal the Nation Service
January 3, 2017
As I sat and I observed my brother sing that song, I reflected on my own life and God had blessed me and he has shown me favour and I am indeed grateful and I’m certain that if all of you were to reflect on your own lives, you would say the same thing that God has blessed your own life; you would say the same thing that God has blessed you and has shown you favour.
No matter how difficult the times are and they are difficult and your personal struggles that only you alone will know and the challenges that you face with your family and generally with your surviving that God has preserved us to see 2018 and there is no burden that is too heavy for our God to carry. We don’t wait until we’re at our limit, until we’re about to break, that we call upon God and so it is becoming a custom, a ritual of a routine almost for me to come and fellowship with you. This is my third year fellowshipping with you.
To ask God to continue to preserve us, to help us to overcome our personal challenges and the challenges of the nation and we must of course thank Bishop Belford-Davis and his wife for putting together this event; 13 years because he is blessed and highly favoured. Allow me to acknowledge your moderator for this session Bishop Alvin Bailey, a man who I have recently gotten to know and someone in whom I have the highest regard. I don’t always get the chance to interact with all the executives of the clergy but there was an incident that required me to reach out and to meet many of the leaders of the church and we have some very good church leaders. We have men of great understanding, men of broad vision, men of far reach and men who have Jamaica’s best interest at heart.
Allow me to acknowledge Dr Patricia Dunwell representing His Excellency the Governor General, Dr Peter Phillips the leader of the Parliamentary Opposition. I haven’t seen Commissioner Quallo but I gather that he’s here. Commissioner I can understand why you would seek a special blessing. Bishop Neville Owens, Chairman of the Umbrella Group of Churches. Bishop Dr W. A. Blair, Administrative Bishop of the New Testament Church of God. Bishop Conrad Pitkin, President of the Jamaica Association of Full Gospel Churches and Dr Patricia Holness, chairman of Jamaica Pentecostal Union.
With me today- I want to introduce my team, is the:
Honourable Ruel Reid
The Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange
The Honourable Kamina Johnson-Smith
The Honourable Mike Henry- Jah mek ya Mike, Jah mek ya!
The Honourable Desmond Mckenzie
The Honourable Delroy Chuck
Senator Aubyn Hill and
Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Pearnel Charles.
I said to my cabinet members “the church plays an important role in Jamaica” and it is not for a political show, but in a genuine thrust of building partnership with all our stakeholders, to rescue our beloved Jamaica so in whatever we’re doing and whatever the church is doing, as much support as we can give each other in a true spirit of partnership. I believe that together we can rescue our beloved Jamaica so as far as possible and as much as I can whether it is through presence or through the exercise of discretion or influence to support the church in its activities, I will as far as possible be there in support of the church.
I like the theme “Let us live together in peace, do honest business, raise good and Godly families and serve the true and living God in spirit and in truth; Heal the family, Heal the nation, Jamaica is God’s place.”
You’ve heard many speeches and many prayers. I wanted to discuss very briefly with you a few things that are on my mind so these are just musings, my thoughts. If you find favour with them then you can say amen, if not be quiet.
Violence is ripping us apart. There is just too violence in the family. Recently I came across a young lady who felt the need to speak about being raped by her father; violence in the family. You would have seen circulating in the news on social media, young children being abused beaten badly by frustrated mothers or fathers; violence in the family.
You would have also heard many cases of intimate partner abuse, boyfriend beating up girlfriend, husband and wife fighting, stabbing each other. I visited one situation early last year I believe it was where a boyfriend attacked his girlfriend and severed her arms. Many of you in the church are experiencing this kind of violence and you suffer quietly sometimes feeling too ashamed to say anything and of course domestic violence; brother and brother fighting as you would have seen in the news recently, a machete is drawn and someone’s life is ended. Almost half of our murders are related to some form of domestic violence/ domestic dispute and it all starts within the family but there is another element of violence I want to point out which I’m hoping that the church will take on and this is vengeance.
Many of our murders are reprisals. Somebody is killed, the family says “if I don’t ketch Quako, I ketch him shut. I’ll find somebody in that family to kill or someone close to him to kill” – reprisals, vengeance.
The church, you can play an important role in dealing with this issue of violence. I say to the leaders of the church you have to bring it to your pulpit. We can’t allow much of what is happening to be covered up particularly the abuse that is happening within families. We must preach out against the fathers who are molesting their daughters and it is happening within our midst. Some mothers remain quiet, don’t say anything about it, that daughter grow up with a lot of anger in her. She has children, she takes it out on her children, and all that those children will know is violence. If you see something like that it is not right. It cannot be accepted practice in our culture. We must expose it and preach against it and if you see someone suffering quietly reach out to them and help them. The church has an amazing capacity for counselling and outreach, use it. That is one practical way in which we can start to address the issue of violence.
We talk about crime but we don’t talk enough about violence. It is the violence that drives the crime. It is the violence that makes the crime brutal and savage. We have to address this issue of violence which is becoming part of our culture, a part of our social transaction that if we’re talking about love we have to be aggressive and violent, if we’re disciplining our children it has to be with aggression and violence if someone accidentally steps on your toe; aggression and violence. We’re becoming a harsh society.
It’s on my mind and I thought I would share it with you because the power of God is in your hands.
I see a beautiful Jamaica, a Jamaica that God has blessed, a Jamaica that has such great potential, a Jamaica that has achieved much but could have achieve so much more, a Jamaica that is being held back by violence. Of course the ultimate expression of violence is to take someone’s life but it starts in smaller ways but, “if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” Let us do that today.
You are his people, we are his people. Let us turn from the wicked ways that have engulfed us. Let us seek God’s face. Let us humble ourselves before him and let him act through you. Let his spirit move through Jamaica to touch the hearts of men even the most wicked, there is redemption for them. Let us pray fervently. Let us pray diligently. We can make Jamaica the paradise we know it is. God bless you and a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2018.
God bless you.