Ruthlyn Francis: A woman of God
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
Ruthlyn Francis has been baptised for 61 years. She accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour when she was only 13 years old, having been inspired by her mentor.
"I was a young person growing up in the church at the time. There was a teacher who was my mentor and she used to have Tuesday evening classes, which was more like a children's Bible club after school. So I used to go and I never forget one evening, she said, 'You're not too young to die so you're not too young to give yourself to the Lord'. That one thought hit me," she explained to Family and Religion, noting that not long after that, there was a crusade at church and, one night after the message, there was an altar call.
"I went up and 11 of us got baptised and I was the youngest. It was a group of young people and one big man. I think we as young people got that sort of commitment to get saved through the Bible club."
Originally from Mount Hermon in St Catherine, she said although she left her birth community and resettled in Clarendon, she never stopped going to church. "Since the time I was baptised, I never looked back, I never left my church," she said emphatically. Francis was so fired up about Church and praising God that shortly after she relocated to Clarendon, she and several others started a church; a church which is now called the Mineral Heights Baptist Church.
"We started the church 30 years ago in 1984 and then a year after that, I became deacon. I was a member at Grace Baptist in May Pen and when the (housing) scheme started, some of us came over and decided to set up a witness. We had the first service in somebody's yard, 36 of us, and then we bought the land and built the church."
CHURCH IS DIFFERENT
Francis told Family and Religion that she has noticed a difference in the Church from when she just started out compared to now. "Church then is different from now. Churches have a lot more young people now than back then. The Church is moving into a Pentecostal-type of worship. We sing a lot of choruses and clap and shake tambourine and we have a special praise and worship team who takes charge on a Sunday morning, and people love that even if they don't want to hear the sermon, but they will enjoy praise and worship because that gets the congregation excited and that enhances the worship."
She continued: "The Bible says you must sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord and the Psalms say you must use cymbals and harps and praise the Lord, and I think that helps to attract and keep the young people in the Church."
Francis who has been married for 45 years was very active in her day and has held many positions in church, community as well as in school. She was vice-principal at Hayes Primary and Junior High for many years. "I also received the Governor General's Award for community service in 1994. At that time, I had 13 different posts, all while being vice-principal at school." She still works with a golden-age group in the Hayes Corn Piece Settlement, where she volunteers her time regularly.