Mon | May 25, 2020

North Jamaica Adventists pour out charity to thousands

Published:Monday | May 4, 2020 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Members of the Ocho Rios Seventh-day Adventist Church in St Ann helping to prepare care packages for distribution.

WESTERN BUREAU:

In a bid to help ease the suffering sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Jamaica Conference (NJC) of Seventh-day Adventists has been dishing out care packages valued at J$2.5 million to 2,000 households across the island.

Pastor Jermaine Johnson, the NJC’s communications director and head of the Brown’s Town district of Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Churches, told The Gleaner that approximately 10,000 people have been impacted through the outreach efforts.

“Over 2,000 care packages have been distributed across St Ann and Trelawny since mid-March, and given the average household count per beneficiary, this would have impacted over 10,000 individuals,” said Johnson.

“Distributions happen weekly, so we haven’t set a particular day or time for persons to do them, but the distributions are running like a chain reaction.”

The NJC’s 21,000 church members, from 81 churches and 17 pastoral districts in Trelawny and St Ann, have reached out to both needy congregants and unattached community members with packages of canned food, ground provision such as yams and green bananas, toiletries, and even face masks to help protect against COVID-19.

“We target both community members and church members, so there’s no partiality in terms of the packages. Every time there’s a distribution, we target our needy members as well as the needy persons in the community that have been identified by the brethren through visitations,” said Johnson.

“COVID-19 has definitely caused us to step up to the plate in light of the increased need based on persons being laid off and not being able to carry out their business because of the circumstances.”

Johnson said that the regional church leadership has marshalled pastoral staff and membership to give a helping hand.

NJC President Dr Karl Archer also noted that while COVID-19 has presented unique challenges locally, the conference will partner with other SDA groups to clear those hurdles. That alliance includes the Jamaica Union Conference and the Adventist Disaster Relief Agency.“As a result of COVID-19, we’re experiencing challenging times, financially and otherwise, but we know that our God never fails and that He will continue to help us,” Archer said.