What do you have when the community is struggling with crime, violence and other difficulties that cause persons to wonder if there is hope in their future?
In a word, opportunity! And one courageous woman who owns a thriving small business in Spanish Town's Shadows Mall, in cooperation with the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (CJC), has not left this grand opportunity of providing hope amid our community's trials, up to chance.
Mrs Veronica Wilson of the Corletts Road Seventh-day Adventist Church has been doing business in the area for many years. She has allowed God to use her to encourage passers-by with the bestselling Book ever published - the Bible.
Mrs Wilson recently took her commitment to lasting change in the community to another level when she cemented her partnership with the CJC. In this God-ordained partnership, anyone needing a Bible, who stops by her place of business, will receive one free of cost.
In an address at a special prayer session in one of the CJC's more than 200 churches spanning St. Catherine, Clarendon and Manchester, the CJC's President, Pastor Levi Johnson encouraged parishioners and leaders alike to replicate the passion Mrs Wilson has in the many city centres near to their churches.
"People need the Word of God", he said as he spoke passionately. "And we need to give the people what they need". This level of commitment has the potential to spread far and wide as recipients of this blessing seek to bless others.
On October 17, 2019, we visited Mrs Wilson at her business place as she prepared to receive the gift Bibles from President Johnson and Pastor Everett Smith, Director of the CJC's Community Services and Publishing Ministries. The blessing did not stop there. Wilson has decided to play an audio Bible from her store-front terrace overlooking Burke Road for sixty minutes, Monday to Friday.
As we discussed this aspect of the initiative with President Johnson, he said, "We are happy to partner with Sister Wilson, who has a passion for the Word of God. We will be distributing Bibles, small books and gospel tracts, especially targeting at-risk youths. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is all about the Word of God".
As President Johnson pondered the massive impact of this initiative, he called for a special prayer, that God would bless their efforts. "Again", he said, "we want to thank Mrs Wilson and her team for the glorious opportunity to share the Word of God with the people of Spanish Town".
The Word of God, we are told, must be "spread like the leaves of autumn". And when we asked Pastor Smith how important he felt technology was in reaching persons for Christ, he smiled and said, "It is very important! We must use every means available to share God with the people".
In this initiative, technology meets old-world printing. In the same way Gutenberg's printing press, along with Bible translation, revolutionized the spread of the gospel, professionally produced audio Bibles recorded by native speakers of more than 1,300 languages has made it possible for those who have difficulty reading the printed text to access the truth that changes lives. Publishing has taken on new meaning in our era, and Pastor Smith is committed to the blessing.
Mrs Wilson shared a little with us about herself when she said, "I have a passion for people. I have been in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for over thirty years, and I love working in the Welfare Department; that is my passion".
Continuing, she said, "I have seen so many young men, they just go down just like that, killed in the street. And I think it is a lack of the Word of God. And it is my passion, that I want to let them hear the Word of God, even if it's for one hour".
Mrs Wilson is convinced that those who hear the Word will not soon forget it; and hopefully, they will be transformed by the power of God. Ultimately, Mrs Wilson is doing all in her power to live by the "theme" she says, of her life "that I am blessed, and I am going to bless others".
There you have it. When a community is nearly overwhelmed by crime, violence, and other unmentionable difficulties, God honours the unity of willing partners to make a difference.
These partners, the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and Mrs Wilson are doing their part to create lasting change in the lives of men, women and children. What contribution will you make as we prepare them for the coming of Jesus Christ? Time will tell.