The Central Jamaica Conference (CJC) of Seventh-day Adventists, on Saturday, July 13, 2019, opened doors to its ‘Life Hope Centre’ for the poor and homeless on the compound of the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Mandeville, Jamaica.
Pastor Levi Johnson, president of Central Jamaica Conference said this is the first of five Centres of Influence that the Conference is looking to establish in various towns across the CJC territory. According to Pastor Johnson, most of the world’s population are now living in cities.
“We have done the survey”, Johnson said, “and discovered that all the town centres in CJC are growing.” “This puts a serious strain on the limited infrastructure and resources and can impact negatively on the quality of life of persons who are poor, vulnerable and displaced”, he continued.
President Johnson said that it is while administration of the Conference studied how to meet the needs of persons in the cities that they decided to make it a goal of creating five Centres of Influence in their major towns or cities.
Pastor Johnson also indicated that they are also responding to the challenge put out by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for the church to meet the needs of people living in cities and town centres under its “Mission to the Cities” Initiative.
Pastor Johnson said, “We are expecting that people who visit the Life Hope Centre will receive special care and love and have their needs met.” “Whether those needs are counselling, medical, dental or otherwise.”
Johnson closed his greeting by expressing thanks to partners whose contribution helped to make it possible. He expressed thanks to Mrs. Ursula Sharpe of the Mandeville church for her commitment to the project. Mrs. Sharpe is currently the person in charge of the centre.
President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, Pastor Everett Brown said he is pleased to share in the opening of the ‘Life Hope Centre’. “The church must respond to the needs of people in the community; we must be a good cooperate citizen”, said Brown.
Pastor Brown also congratulated the administrators of CJC and expressed that the Jamaica Union will do their part to support this initiative.
Councillor Jones Oliphant, of the Central Manchester region, who brought greetings on behalf of Mr. Peter Bunting, Member of Parliament (MP) for Central Manchester, said that this new Centre of influence is the 3rd such institution, established to address the needs of the poor in the Town of Mandeville. The other two, he said, are “Candle in the Dark” and “Friends in Need”.
Councillor Oliphant said that the Council does not want the homeless to be fed on the streets. They prefer these persons taken to a home or shelter where they can eat with dignity, have a bath and have other needs met. “Therefore”, he continued, “if you need to feed the homeless, get in touch with one of the three (3) centres that are established to address these needs.” “Not because they are homeless or mentally challenged, we need to let them know that they are valued.”
Oliphant congratulated the Adventist church for establishing the Centre and said that he will take a resolution to the next meeting of the Council that this newly established Centre of Influence be listed under the Bureau of Supervision that it can get the help needed to carry out its functions.
Guest Speaker Mrs. Maxine Mitchell, a Canadian philanthropist, said that Jesus is our example of service to the poor and needy. She said that Jesus is always about serving people.
“Jesus has commissioned us to care for each other. This Centre is a prime example of how Jesus ministered while He was on earth”, she said. “Jesus ministered to people’s needs and love them before He shares the word with them.”
Mrs. Mitchell is a native of Manchester, Jamaica, who currently resides in Canada. She and her late husband have contributed to education in Jamaica for many years.
As soon as the service inside the church building ended, Pastor Everett Brown led a team of church officials, along with Councillor Oliphant to cut the ribbon, signalling that the Centre is open for business. Once the doors were opened, Mrs. Sharpe led the leaders on tour through the facilities.
The Centre includes a shower, reading room, clothes distribution room, prayer and/counselling room, bathroom and a dining area.