Debbie Ann Harvey: Children are the future
SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine:
Children's ministry is often not seen as an important asset to the Church. However, the Lighthouse Assembly of God in Spanish Town is cognisant of this reality and, for 15 years, has expanded its children's outreach ministry, recognising it as an important arm of the body of Christ.
Sister Debbie Ann Harvey, founder and CEO of the children's ministry at the Lighthouse Assembly, told Family and Religion that training up children in the fear of God is her calling.
"Train up a child in the way they should grow that when they are old, they will not depart from the truth," is the verse from the Bible that the children's ministry founder used to illustrate how she was inspired by God to start the ministry.
"I got baptised when I was 14 years old. I am now 50, and I knew that God had a plan for my life. I just did not find out what it was until He called me to work with the young ones," she said, adding that it was after she migrated to the United States that God's plan was revealed to her in a big way.
"I returned to Jamaica and met Bishop Rowan Edwards of Lighthouse. I then wrote a letter to him outlining some challenges I was facing at the time. His response to me was so inspirational that right away I knew God was leading me in the right direction," Sister Harvey revealed.
According to her, she was encouraged by Bishop Edwards to start the children's ministry.
"Recognising that Jesus said, 'The least you do for any of my children, you do unto me,' I started to praise God by investing my time here and abroad to build the children's ministry."
She pointed to the establishment of a once-per-week feeding programme at the church, yearly back-to-school assistance and clothing supplies, as well as counselling, as areas where she is able to demonstrate the love of God to these children.
"Jesus said, 'Suffer the little children to come on to me, and forbid them not because such is the Kingdom of Heaven.' This is a clear indication that God loves children and wants us to show our love and care for them," Harvey disclosed.
She admitted that it is by faith that she is able to accomplish what God called her to do, pointing out that, when God designed a purpose for service to him, he always made a way for it to be carried out.
"I am not rich, but through contributions from persons whose hearts are touched by God, I am able to sustain the programme of feeding, clothing and caring for God's children," she proclaimed, disclosing that even though she resides abroad, she still ensures that supplies reach the church when she cannot visit personally.
She praised First Lady Janet Edwards, wife of Bishop Edwards, for carrying on the task of training up the children in the fear of God when she is away.
"We want all our children to know Christ at an early age, and Sister Edwards is always there showing love and care and pointing them to Christ," she told Family and Religion.