Devon Dick | Message from Murdering Missionaries
Last week, Karl Johnson, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, Claude Williams, Baptist pastor, and I visited Terry. Terry is the widow of Harold Nicholas, USA missionary to Jamaica for the last 14 years. Harold and Randy Hentzel, who were killed, were members of the Team of Medical Mission and have worked with many denominations, including Baptists, in St Mary, providing houses, medical care and teaching and preaching the Word of God.
Death is the last and worst enemy, but Terry was not daunted by the death. For her death is not the end. So she and the team are still committed to working in Jamaica. Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead the belief is that life conquers death and good ultimately triumphs over evil; death will not destroy the memories or the legacy of these missionaries.
FACED WITH GRIEF
While visiting Terry, news came that someone from the community had died. She quickly decided that she was going to comfort the grieving Jamaican family. When faced with death, families go through the stages of grief, including denial, disbelief, anger, and then acceptance, and she was going to help that family through the grief.
Terry said the missionaries loved bike riding in the hills. In the past they wandered far and even met a family in the interior of St Ann who gave them a Belassario book. However, this time they met persons who killed them.
There are messages from the murdering of missionaries. It is a time to reflect and admit mistakes of the past in the fight against crime. In 2010, there was an opportunity to make a significant dent in the criminal network by extending the state of emergency by a month and extending it to St Catherine. This was not supported by the then Opposition. There has to be a serious commitment from politicians to disassociate from use of violence and intimidation to win a seat in the House of Parliament.
In addition, the general public needs to eschew violence. Too often, too many persons see it as a badge of honour to be able to state they know someone who can be paid to snuff out a life.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force needs to redouble efforts in going after gangs by naming persons of interest. Disrupt gangs through raids, cordons and searches. Encourage relatives not to harbour persons who are named as persons of interest.
The JDF might need to be an elite force like a SWAT team to deal with cold-blooded persons with high-powered weapons who will not respond to social intervention.
The criminal enterprises must be dismantled. Those who are making profit from criminal activities must feel the full brunt of the law. We have to focus on persons involved in lottery scamming, extortion, gun trade and illicit drug smuggling.
The courts need to prioritise cases and dispose of them in six months. No case involving murders, sex offenders and lottery scammers should take five years. Information is that all the cases involving lottery scamming have led to convictions. However, the sentences appear lighter than what similar cases would receive in the USA. The sentencing needs to be harsher. In addition, it is said that there are 100 cases under the anti-gang legislation waiting to be tried. The court system needs to deal quickly and efficiently with these serious cases and take no excuses and foot dragging by defenders.
Let's use the murdering of these foreigners as a watershed moment to go after criminality.
- 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.