Disturbing news about Denham Town brings positive response from Adventist Missionaries
Written by: Phillip E. L. Castell, Director, Communication, Public Affairs & Religious Liberty | Wednesday, May 16, 2018
When Madge May saw and heard disturbing news of life in the inner city of Denham Town on TV just over a year ago, she was not only disturbed but disappointed that people had to be living in those conditions.
Her desire to do something about what she saw caused her to mobilize her friends who took on the herculean task of organizing a mission trip to Jamaica, requiring them to leave the comforts of their home to go into an area which was known for violence to the extent that it was targetted as a zone of special operation (ZOSO) by the government.
In giving the genesis of the mission trip, leader of the group of five to the island, Madge May, said last year when she was in Jamaica and was watching the news on TV, she saw where they were talking about Denham Town and the gangs and of killings in the area. “They showed how the people were living with raw sewage in their yard and I was just amazed to see what was happening to my people, because I am a Jamaican.”
“It was just awful. I never expected to see anything like this in the country that I was born,” Madge said in an interview on Friday May 11, 2018.
Those graphic images stirred something within her heart which propelled her into action.
“I left with the intention that we have to do something about it,” said Madge. “I just feel that God’s people should be able to do something about something that is happening.”
“When I went home, I prayed about it and talked to the Lord about the situation and then contacted my friends.”
Those friends were four of her closest companions who are Seventh-day Adventists like herself, who were willing to leave the comforts
of their home in the United States to come and make a difference in the land of their birth.
After a little more than a year of planning and getting things together, the group of five found themselves being referred to as missionaries in Jamaica, by the people they came to help.
The team includes Ruth Wyatte who lives in Florida, June Riley who lives in New York and Carol and Denis Thompson who attend the Emanual SDA Church in Plant City Florida with Madge. The team had sent ahead before their arrival in Jamaica,several boxes and barrels of food, clothes, toys, toiletries and adult diapers for distribution to those in need in Denham Town and neighboring communities.
In a series of unforeseen circumstances which lead to the cargo not being cleared in time for the missionaries to do the personal distribution they had planned, the group found themselves making an even greater impact with the people by offering medical services which was well received.
“We are nurses so we walked with our blood pressure cuffs and offered blood pressure checks to the people,” Madge said. “We set up tables and chairs on the street side and did blood pressure checks, tested if they had diabetes, talked to them about their health and nutrition and did some counselling also,” added Madge.
Pastor of the Regent Street SDA Church, Kanhai Lumsden, was grateful for the work of the mission team and was very supportive of their work in the community.
Noting that the plan to go to the people instead of them coming to the church worked in their favour, Lumsden said the medical missionaries changed their strategy when the items they shipped did not arrive on time.
“Instead of inviting the people to come to the Regent Street SDA
Church, they took their services to the community on the road side in Denham Town,” Lumsden said. “We can learn something from this,” he added.
The mission team went into many homes to offer prayer and offered massage therapy and blood pressure checks on the sidewalks and street sides where they used their nursing skills to help many.
During the two weeks, the group saw approximately two hundred persons and was assisted by members of the Community Services department of the Regent Street SDA Church.
IMPACT of ZOSO
When asked if they were not afraid to traverse the volatile community of Denham Town which is currently one of two zones of special operation (ZOSO) in the island that is tightly monitored by police and military patrols to reduce crime and violence in those areas, the members of the group said that they were not afraid as they were on the Lord’s business.
The lone male of the group of five, Dennis, who accompanied his wife Carol said they interacted with the police military group almost on a daily basis and they felt secure.
“It was very funny that I felt very secure in the area. There was police almost every two blocks, so we felt safe. The police at the check points were also very polite,” Dennis added.
Madge and her team had high commendation for the members of the Regent Street SDA Church and singled out Pastor Kanhai Lumsden for his thoughtfulness and care for them during their stay.
“The Regent Street Church is very positive and very supportive. We have worked with other churches which were not as supportive as this one. The pastor, Pastor Lumsden, is on board and he made sure that we were ok. He did a good job.”
Madge and her team were thankful for the experience they had in Denham Town and thanked God for allowing them to do the work that they did.
“We helped the people but they also helped us. We hope that the Regent Street Church and all the people we have contacted that our influence will help them to be drawn closer to God,”
The team expects that the work they have started will be continued by the members of the Regent Street SDA Church who promised they would do just that.
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