Seventh Day Adventists to the rescue…… Work on the Sabbath to help fire victims back on their feet
IN LATE April when fire destroyed the homes of three families in Falmouth Gardens, Trelawny, the affected persons were left distraught and pondering their fate.
Then in stepped the members of the Seventh-day Adventists Church in Falmouth, an affiliate of the North Jamaica Conference, located in Drax Hall, St Ann, with assistance for two of the families, leaving them singing high praises to God.
What's more, the Adventists worked on their Sabbath to help those in need.
According to Pastor Carlington Hylton of the Falmouth District of Churches, helping others is what Jesus expects from us.
"It's not fair to say you worship God, but when someone is in a crisis, you pass them by because it is the Sabbath (Luke 14:1-6). Like our Saviour, we can do good even on the Sabbath day," Hylton explained.
One of the victims, Sonia Clarke, was thankful.
"I am so grateful," she said. "I don't have enough words to express how thankful I am to God for the help received from the Seventh-day Adventist Church members and others who came right on time. The kind of help we got was totally overwhelming."
The fire started one Friday night about 11 o'clock at one house and quickly spread to two adjoining premises, destroying them.
Reports are that the fire unit at the Falmouth fire station developed mechanical problems and it was left to a unit from Ironshore in St James to respond. When the fire fighters arrived, it was too late.
Yvonne Rattray, a Seventh-day Adventist member and a resident of the area, witnessed the fire and said there was nothing much residents could do other than help the families save some belongings.
According to Rattray: "Persons came by and were able to quickly assist in removing some downstairs items from the houses. Others tried to put out the blaze, but that didn't work. The owners stood by and saw everything they owned go up in smoke."
At daybreak on Saturday, the Adventists, who had already made their Sabbath preparations for church, were the first on the scene taking with them brooms, shovels and hoses to help with the cleanup.
Later, when Hylton heard the news, he rushed to the scene. The church had recently ended a crusade in the community.
Recognising the plight of the 12 family members, Hylton changed his preaching schedule in Spring Gardens and opted instead to help in the cleanup.
"Here it is, that there were people who had nothing to eat, nowhere to live, nowhere to sleep. In addition to all that was being done, I just went to the store and bought a mattress for one of the victims," he said.
According to Dyhann Buddoo-Fletcher of the North Jamaica Conference, a donation was received on the spot to re-roof two of the houses.
Buddoo-Fletcher said the benevolence spurred more work that Saturday morning and this attracted more Adventists and several community volunteers. By sunset Saturday, one family could move back into their home.
At the crusade at Falmouth Gardens, two weeks prior, a woman was invited to the event, but she declined the invitation. According to her, she had a bad experience a few months before with an Adventist member, which caused her to vow never to set foot in a Seventh-day Adventist Church.
However, after witnessing the benevolence at the scene of the fire from the Adventists, the woman, Kericia Finlayson, started singing a different tune.
"I have to start coming to church, because during this experience, I saw some real Christians," Finlayson commented. "I never knew that Adventists had this kind of love. The pastor came in his jacket and helped. I love what the pastor and the members did for us."
Another resident, Shana Tingling was overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness.
"The joy I am now experiencing is wonderful," Tingling stated,
"I, too, turned down the invitation from Pastor Hylton to attend the evangelist meetings. However, the Thursday before the fire, I found myself asking someone this question, 'What will it take for God to prove himself to you?' and then, I heard a voice saying, 'including yourself.'
"Then the fire started Friday night. I rushed outside with my children and when I saw it spreading from upstairs to downstairs I immediately cried out to God in desperation, 'No Lord, not downstairs!' The fire just turned away immediately. I was shocked."
"Can God answer so quickly? This is indeed a wakeup call for me. I want to give my life to God," Tingling confessed.
Also offering assistance were Mayor of Falmouth Garth Wilkinson, Member of Parliament, Patrick Atkinson, the National Housing Trust, North Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, among others.