George Davis | Forget the wolves, flee the shepherds
When I was a lad in the late 1980s, a pastor happened on my community in south St Catherine. I say happened on the community because he had no family or close friends who you could say attracted him to the place. It's as if he just showed up one day, saying God had given him a vision that his life should be spent ministering to the people of the district.
This man was more charismatic than any person I had met up to that point, and even now, decades after his death, I struggle to think of anyone who eclipsed him where magnetic charm is concerned.
This pastor had it all.
He was young, tall, strapping, handsome and brown enough to earn extra ratings from the country folk as a 'brown man'. All the women fancied him, and given that he came to the community without a wife and seemingly without a past, many had visions of being the queen that this hunk of a clergyman would give pride of place beside him as he watched over the flock of his church.
Of course, no clergyman is worth anything if he cannot speak. And not only was this man a pretty boy, he could talk the rust off a piece of steel in a way that made even those who despised his version of Christianity acknowledge that he was indeed blessed with significant gifts by God.
This man's popularity soared in quick time, and his Zionist Church was all the rage in the community, drawing not just congregants but large crowds, who stood cheek to jowl at every available window to see this most wonderful man at work during service on a Sunday afternoon.
One of his congregants had two daughters, the elder of whom attended a prominent high school in Rudyard Spencer's constituency. This teenager was a bright spark, the apple of her father's eye. And even though he loved her three siblings, she was the one he felt would achieve something great.
The mother spent hours at the church daily, helping with various chores. The father, perhaps through paranoia, became bitter and had several loud arguments with her about the time she was spending with 'dis likkle pastor bwoy'. The father suggested that the mother was doing more than helping with chores and warned that any wrong move would result in her being kicked out of their NHT house.
Unbeknown to the father, the older daughter sometimes accompanied the mother to church in the daytime. One day, the teenager came home and complained of a persistent bellyache. Nobody thought much of it the same day, and as is customary throughout Jamaica, but especially in rural areas, various bush/home remedies were administered to the teen. Things got serious when the belly pains persisted over a few days, and a trip to the doctor confirmed that she was indeed pregnant.
HELL BROKE LOOSE
When I say the news caused all hell to break loose, I mean it. The father, who was the sole breadwinner, was livid. Which 'likkle bwoy' did his prized daughter lie with? How could the apple of his eye be pregnant when she had so much schooling ahead of her?
The father was crushed when, after forcing a confession from the 13-year-old, he learnt that the charismatic, handsome pastor was the man who had impregnated her.
There was no police report filed, because the mother helped to thwart attempts by the father to report the crime. The scandal destroyed the family, driving a permanent wedge between mother and father. Based on things said by both in numerous arguments subsequent to the revelation of the father, that previously happy common-law couple never again shared a bed.
The pastor's ministry continued, and amazingly, the mother remained a key part of his congregation, reasoning that she had no right to hold a grudge when God had already forgiven the pastor.
At the risk of upsetting the people who know that I know this story, I feel it my duty to talk about how our attitude to the Church and the concept of God's mercy have blinded us to crimes against even our own children.
Sin is upon us.