Keep Christ at the centre- St Mary pastor
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
As the senior pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist District (SDA) of Churches in Port Maria, St Mary, Chukudi Okike believes the biggest challenge facing residents of the parish capital is what to do with their young people.
Okike, who was born in Nigeria, but lived in Jamaica for more than 20 years, claims that young people in Port Maria need to be steered into church and away from a lifestyle of successive partying and fun seeking.
He told Family and Religion: "Young people in the area want entertainment, and if they can get it every day so they can be in the street, they are comfortable. Many of them don't really understand or know what they want.
"Jesus is the want of everyone today, but many don't really see it that way. If we believe that we have been created by God, a superior being that we should be paying homage and allegiance to, then we believe it is good to worship and honour Him.
"I believe that in the Church, we need to reach out to and be in contact with these young people. We should not jump to conclusions to criticise them, we must be a friend and try to relate to them on their level.
"We really must try to help them find out and understand what their goals in life are. From there, you will be able to guide and mentor them, and they will be able to achieve whatever they are supposed to."
Initially, Okike planned to go into trade and commerce in Nigeria, but in 1989 he chose an alternate career path, one that brought him straight into the Church. "I think God Himself convicted me," he explained.
"I wanted to be a businessman and cried because I didn't want to be a minister at all. But based on how my relationship with God progressed, I became a minister, and here I am today."
This month, the SDA church celebrates 125 years of ministry in Jamaica and Okike insists there is one primary reason the institution has lasted so long.
"I think the SDA has been successful for so long because it is a Bible-based organisation. We want Christ to be the head of everything we do, because if Christ is not at the centre, like any house or home that is built without foundation, it will crumble."
Looking ahead, Okike hopes for two things that will make it easier for him to carry out his ecclesiastic duties in Port Maria: 'The first is cheaper gas (laughs). That's one of the biggest problems I face in trying to cover the district. And that's not only for me, I'm sure other St Maryians would also like their gas to be a little cheaper.
"The other thing is if, by the grace of God, everybody could be more spiritual and have their goals, knowing that Jesus can come anytime now. If we believe that heaven is real, just as hell is real, let us prepare ourselves to meet Jesus when he comes; that is what I wish for most of all."