Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Aston A. Barnes |Tribute to a great Jamaican patriot

Published:Tuesday | May 26, 2020 | 12:08 AMAston A. Barnes/Guest Columnist

AS A personal friend and retired officer of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, I would like to share with the many paying tribute to Oliver Clarke.

My association with Oliver Clarke spans a period of approximately 50 years. I was introduced to Oliver by Arthur G. Rose, who was the then manager of the Jamaica National branch in Mandeville.

In my opinion, Oliver had several principles that guided and controlled his thoughts and actions over the years: (1) What can be done to improve the lives and living standards of people? How can we find a way to help them find a way? (2) What is the cause of all the lawlessness in Jamaica and, by extension, the world? (3) What can we do to find a solution and help to solve these problems?

We met many times and had in-depth discussions on these two topics, and I am convinced that these principles guided his purpose and mission in life.

HELPING THE LESS FORTUNATE

I had the privilege of serving with him as a director of the Jamaica National Small Business Loan and there I saw his passion in finding a way to help less fortunate individuals in the society. His effort in getting tools for people to use in their different trades or pursuits was exemplary, and it was while serving on this board that I discovered how creative Jamaicans are. Oliver often repeated these words to me, “If you give a man a fish you are not helping him, but when you teach him how to fish so that he can catch his own fish, you are really helping him.”

After the passing of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and the trail of destruction and hopelessness that it left behind, Oliver organised a group of us to visit communities in different sections of the island and to evaluate the damages caused by the hurricane. The hurricane took off the entire roof of the Campbell’s Castle SDA Preparatory School and Oliver assisted the school to survive by restoring the roof. Oliver was also instrumental in providing assistance to many individuals during those difficult times. These are just some of the ways in which Oliver lived by his principles and helped people to find a way to survive.

On the question of lawlessness, I am happy that I was able to explain to him how and when this problem will be solved. I am also glad that I was able to describe to him what things will be like after this problem is solved. Here I quote: “ The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flows life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their un-shadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.” The G.C., pp 673-678 .

My heart is saddened by the passing of a special and true friend who would always return my calls and respond promptly to my email messages. The board, principal and staff of Campbell’s Castle SDA Preparatory and Kindergarten School join with my family and I in extending deepest sympathies to his bereaved family and business associates. We wish for them God’s comfort and peace during this time of mourning and rest for his soul.

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