West Jamaica Conference
The Hon. Andrew Holness ON, MP
West Jamaica Conference
Seventh-day Adventist Conference Centre, Mount Salem
September 24, 2017
My wife was a member of the Spanish Town SDA choir. Pastor Brown can verify that fact, so when Dr. Floyd Morrison decides to throw words, I will remind him that my family are founding members of the Spanish Town SDA and that in the eyes of God I am in good standing with the church.
I listened carefully to your Member of Parliament and my Attorney- General. The essence of the AG’s message is brevity and hopefully I will get a resounding round of applause as she did.
Custodes, distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the church, it is my great, distinct pleasure and honour to be with you this afternoon. It was not planned for me to be here but circumstances made it possible. I have another event in Montego Bay and when I got the invitation I said, you know what, this is a tremendous opportunity to come and fellowship with the church but more importantly to say thanks to the church for the work you have been doing in St. James, particularly in the Mount Salem area.
Building a better nation, changing lives one life at a time – powerful message. As Prime Minister, I tend to have to look at the forest, meaning I have to look at the bigger picture. Sometimes you don’t see the trees and what is happening to them individually. You tend to want to see the forest… and Floyd, please forgive me if I say I want to see the forest green and lush but to get the forest healthy, green and lush you have to pay attention to the trees; the government can’t do that all by itself. The government has to work in partnership with the private sector but partnership as well with faith-based organizations; the churches. I’m never one to say that the churches are not doing enough.
I agree with you Glen that were it not for the church, we would be in far worse situation than we are right now. I am always willing to strengthen the cooperation between the efforts of the government and the efforts of the church.
You see friends, the challenge we face is that as it is said in Ephesians, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”.
When the State comes to realize that a murder is not just the taking of a life because of anger. Sometimes there is some calculation involved, where people are actually organizing and planning to take a life and there are those who are seeking to justify this as right.
When you see the gruesomeness of some of the crimes that are taking place in our country; the be-headings, the savage burning of homes with children in them and shooting them, it’s not just criminal-evil, it is also a spiritual evil that is ‘driving’.
We’re social beings and when we come together to compete for survival we’re economic beings and when we rely on each other we’re emotional beings but when we recognize our limit then we become spiritual beings and we have to draw on the spiritual powers of the church. We have to put on the whole armour to fight the spiritual evil that is within our land and the government is willing, the government is embracing and the government is working with our faith based organizations.
We have declared an area the Zones of Special Operations. It’s a zone of special operations for the security forces, it’s a special zone for our social intervention programmes but as I stand here today it is also a zone of special operations for the spiritual intervention of the church.
I’m glad to hear you say Glen, that you’ve walked the streets in the zone and that we have made sure that the security forces understand that they must never make themselves the enemy of the good in the community, which they are there to protect and serve the citizens.
The Social Intervention Committee understands that it has to work very quickly but strategically in addressing some of the fiscal hardware and software needs in the community but the state reaches a limit sometimes in our interventions that the church has to reach now to the heart of man.
The pathology of a crime has three parts to it. You have to first of all have the opportunity to commit the crime, nobody’s watching, you can do it and escape. The second part is the capacity. For some they have guns, others have cell phones and lead sheets and the third part of it is the intention, the propensity, the willingness to do it.
Right now within the zones, there is not much opportunity to commit crime and that spills over around a certain radius of that community – very little opportunity. The presence of the security forces cuts that out. We’re searching for weapons and that has cut the capacity of people in the zones to commit crimes and we will continue to search.
I want to just break here for a minute to say that you can help in that, by providing information to the law enforcement people who are in the zones.
If you don’t want to do that, feel free to call Crime Stop at 311; solving crime pays and we have put up the largest fund ever in the history of Jamaica to reward persons who give us information that lead to the recovery of weapons.
Everyone in here can play a part by anonymously calling Crime Stop if you have any information whatsoever; your information will be safe, tell us what you know. The security forces are well trained, they are well missioned but they are greatly now accountable.
Together we can make the communities safer. Many of the finds that you’re seeing in the news is as a result of people coming forward and giving information.
But on the third element of the profile of the crime and the criminal, the intention; that is the difficult one. How do we change someone who has taken on the lifestyle of crime? Decide that they’re not going to work, decide that they’re going to terrorize their neighbour, decide that it is justified to trick and swindle an old retiree somewhere in the united states out of their pension, how do we change that? How do we reach to the soul of that person?
I will make my best attempt and we will send in the Agencies.
We will send in the National Parenting Support Commission to hold the parenting seminars. We will send in the Jamaica Social Investment Fund to fix the road conditions and the zinc fences and to improve the sewage, we will send in the NWA. We’ll send in the NSWA to clean up the place, but the ultimate intervention, the most powerful intervention known to man is when the institution of the church inspired by God Almighty sends down that intercession.
Therefore my appeal from your pulpit is to say to you, thank you for the work that you’ve been doing. I totally endorse the idea of reaching seven thousand (7000) individual youths through mentorship; opening up an office to serve this area is truly an inspired vision of community support, but I’m asking you to intensify your effort.
Put more resources in; mobilize the incredible support you have within your congregation and outside. Let us now start to reach the souls of man. Let us try to make a difference and to change the intention from evil. My own experience is that the greatest transformation I’ve seen in the lives of people is when they have discovered God, when they have decided to change their lives.
We see it every day, a woman who used to be a dancer or a bar attendant, some point in time as she grows older she decides that it is time to give her life over. We’ve seen it with some of our men who were vicious killers who have decided to put down the gun and take up the bible.
We need to touch more lives individually and the best place to do that is through the church so brothers and sisters, I ask you for your support and your continued help in touching lives individually, making Jamaica a better place one life at a time.
God bless you.