Tuesday, November 02, 2010


The Ups and Downs of Outreach in Sav-la-mar

Knowing there is a large Deaf population in the coastal community of Sav-la-mar, Pastor Damian Campbell and New Life Church of the Deaf (aka JDV church) became burdened by the reality that they had no church, no established Christian fellowship and yet a thirst for the Gospel. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto those of the household of faith. (Galations 6:10). Brothers Kirk Plattner (my teammate) and Damian made a "survey" trip at the beginning of the year to see what potential facilities could be rented or used. God opened doors and contacts were made to find an appropriate facility for the time being. Following the survey their next phase was to host an outreach event in Sav, on a Saturday, to spread the news of starting a church. A couple bus loads of New Life Church members headed to Sav and hosted a time of fellowship, food, games and a message. There was a good turnout by the deaf and all were encouraged. However, Satan is always on the move, seeking whom he may devour. On the trip home there was a devastating accident. A broken-down dump truck was parked in the road, with no hazards, reflective tape or cones to warn motorists. As Damian rounded a corner an approaching car's lights momentarily prevented him from seeing clearly. Suddenly there was a tremendous impact as the 15 passenger van plowed into the back of the dump truck. Bystanders rushed to help, aiding the removal of those in the bus. The impact was so severe that the front end of the bus became wedged under the bed of the dump truck, requiring nearly 30 men to rock and push on the van to free it from the dump truck. About 25 minutes after the accident, Felicia Campbell and Diana Williams were the last ones freed the van. They were sitting in the front and their legs were pinned. Based on the testimony of those driving, riding and following behind, the severity of this accident and manner in which it happened would almost guarantee casualties. But praise God, for greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world, and no lives were lost. Diana, Damian and Felicia, the 3 up front, sustained significant cuts from the glass shattering into their faces. Charmaine Jones sustained a broken leg and ankle. There were other injuries and bruises, cuts and scrapes, muscle pain and other scares, but on the whole, it was a miraculous event. Some of group is pictured below a few days after the accident. As the weeks wore on, it became so encouraging to see the response of the church and those who suffered through the accident. Rather than being leary of returning to Sav, they became all the more emboldened in their faith and conviction to carry on the mission to reach out to Sav. Soon, a regular, weekly schedule was set-up for Sunday services in Sav. Satan can try to bring us down, but when we bring all things captive unto the obedience of Christ, He will cast down the strongholds of our enemy!

Having never been to Sav, I was anxious and eager to visit this church and meet some new faces. This past weekend I had the opportunity to go. I had been warned about how small the meeting room was (offered to us free by the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, a government program) but you truly can't appreciate it until you are there. They typically have 4-6 from the community attend the service, but as many as 12 have showed up. It's schedule to start at 10, but by 10 we only had 3. At 10:15 a fourth showed up and told us he knew 3 others who were coming "soon." We decided to wait until 10:30. Still no others. About 10:40 three more showed up, and we started with singing (Cresmore leads worship in the picture below) at about 10:45. Shortly after we started, two more walked in, so we had a total of 9 from Sav and 4 of us from New Life in Mandeville. About halfway through the message on "What is faith?" we noticed commotion outside on the street and a man drawing a handgun. We immediately closed the door and began moving to the front of the room, opposite the altercation outside. It was a flurry of activity and my heart was pumping with adrenaline. All I could see was a man pointing a gun and yelling, and all of this was happening about 30 feet from where I stood taking the picture below. We were just discussing "the role of faith in God protecting us vs. the fact that tragedy happens" and so my mind had immediately jumped to "what happens if they come in here and try to intimidate us, etc"  It's funny how quickly you respond to situations you've never been in before, but I was excited and had even grabbed my flip video camera to capture the chaos if things got more out of hand. Man I was excited! Turns out it was an off-duty police officer trying to restrain a man the locals told me was notorious for crazy behavior due to various addictions and mental illness. We watched as they led him down the street towards the hospital by a leash attached to a straight jacket type thing. Regardless, it made for an excitement break in the service, a reminder that we never know when something can happen, and hopefully a slightly entertaining blog post for you to read.

Pray for this church, and for those who are hearing the Truth of God's Word on a weekly basis. It is His work, and He alone can add the increase. Pray for men and women of faith and Godly life-examples to step up and become leaders in this church. Pray that the Lord would raise up workers for His harvest. It was an encouraging day, and I was thankful for the chance to see some old friends and make some new ones. After a year and a half in Jamaica, I finally felt like I experienced the proto-typical "missionary" activity, which was good, but we must all be reminded that everyday when we walk out of our homes and come in contact with souls, that we are ALL in the mission field. We are image bearers of the Creator God. And He has chosen to use us as His vessels of grace and mercy to reach a lost and broken world. And we never know when our time will come to an end. Am I ready? Are you? Have I redeemed the time I've been given?

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  (Eph 2:8-10)


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