Remembering David Keane
On December 7, 2014, David Keane died after suffering a stroke while preaching at a New Year's Eve Service almost 11 years ago. Keane was a singer, band leader and church planter.
My first recollection of Keane was when he returned to his alma mater, Calabar High School, during ISCF Week in the 1970s with his band David Keane and the Sunshine Singers. They ministered and the response was the best I have witnessed at an evangelistic event at Calabar. Unfortunately, many gospel artistes fail to realise that gospel music is a powerful tool in evangelistic efforts. They try to preach with poor results when the Spirit of God can use the music to good effect.
Keane, with his talented first wife Denver, made a great impact on gospel music in Jamaica before the explosion caused by reggae artistes Papa San and Lt Stitchie, et al, who became gospel singers. Their musical exploits included the Alleluia series which was held annually at Church on the Rock, of which he was the church planter. This Alleluia series featured international and local gospel artistes and patrons would attend without an admission fee. Gospel music was not primarily a fundraiser.
An offshoot of the Sunshine Singers was a ministry at Keane's Border Avenue residence in Havendale. That gathering believed that Christians were 'King's Kids'. This interpretation gave birth to the concept that only the best in material things were good enough for Christians. It was a concept that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith in God and positive thinking will increase one's material wealth and health. It was not called prosperity gospel in the 1970s but it had a resemblance to it. Prosperity gospel posits that reconciliation with God leads to the alleviation of sickness and poverty - conditions which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith in God.
Church on the Rock
This ministry at Border Avenue morphed into a church, Church on the Rock, which was erected on a hill in the Cassava Piece area. A feature of the area was poverty and Keane ought to be commended for his compassion for the people of the area. The church would also transport persons from financially poor areas to the church. The church practised holistic ministry to the community.
When David Keane fell seriously ill, many Christians could not understand how a man of God could fall ill while preaching a sermon and the confusion was compounded by his decade-old coma condition. Some expected a dramatic recovery from the near vegetable state to vindicate God's goodness and greatness
There is an unfortunate development in Christianity with the belief that a sign of a true Christian is one who is untouched by suffering. This belief has been popularised by some televangelists and this has not helped Christians to deal with suffering, pain and hardships. Also, it purports that true discipleship is judged on the accumulation of material possessions. Many persons forget that Job suffered, Paul's Christian journey was marked by hardships, and in the prophecies, Christ had been likened to the Suffering Servant in the book of Isaiah.
God can protect us from suffering, as well as in suffering. Sometimes God might spare us from suffering or He gives us the strength to endure suffering. Whatever option God chooses will be such which God sees as being best for us and which brings glory and honour to His name. If suffering comes then it is to glorify God during hardships.
Keane will be remembered for his sunshine personality and as one who contributed much to gospel music and the spread of the gospel. May his soul rest in peace.
n Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.