Christians have a role in politics, says Wesley Boynes
Recently, there was some amount of controversy surrounding an Adventist pastor, Michael Harvey, who egged on People's National Party supporters at a rally in Half-Way Tree. The Adventist Church and Northern Caribbean University (a Seventh-day Adventist institution, where Harvey is employed) have since distanced themselves, saying they do not endorse political parties.
However, Senior Elder at the Northgate Centre for Global Impact in Ocho Rios, Wesley Boynes, believes Christians have a role in building, what he terms, a new political environment in Jamaica, which is needed going forward.
"By not participating in politics, Christian people are hiding their light under a basket and that is totally irresponsible behaviour," Boynes stated. "I want to encourage the Church in Jamaica to accept that we are here in Jamaica and we have to fully participate in the process of building of the nation. We have to allow God to offer the nation an opportunity to become a better country through the involvement of our voices and our lives."
According to Boynes, the vast majority of Jamaicans are still not participating in politics and are, in most instances, full of bitter sarcasm to the subject. As a result, he pointed out, the political destiny of the nation is then left in the hands of a handful of diehards who are committed to be Comrades or Labourites till the day that they die.
To make matters worse, Boynes pointed out, most politicians on both sides of the political fence continuously display extremely arrogant attitudes and are (deemed) untouchable. He said this is not surprising since the majority of the nation is not paying attention to what they do and are, therefore, not calling them into accountability.
Boynes said this situation will not change without the input of members of the population that are committed to serving and pleasing God by implementing his values and principles into every area of our lives.
"I believe that if the God-fearing people of Jamaica will engage the process of nation-building including the responsibility of interfacing with politics in a correct manner, we can build (a positive) political environment in Jamaica, which will benefit all citizens and make Jamaica a much better place to live, work, play, and do business," Boynes told Family and Religion.
To achieve this, Boynes has put forward five important components for a new and sensible political environment.
1 Fully accept Jamaica as the home God gave to us. All of us Jamaican citizens who walk in the name of God, should stop dreaming about migrating to some foreign country. We need to settle with finality in our hearts that we were ordained by God to be born and/or to be situated in Jamaica. If that is the case, then we can properly engage the God-given responsibility of nation-building.
Things are harsh in Jamaica, but listen to what God said to the Jews, who were now living in the harsh conditions of Babylon in Jeremiah 29:4-6, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands ... and not be diminished. In other words, settle down!"
2 Seek the peace of the city. In the same scripture mentioned above, God said to the Jews in verse 7. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.
We can see that seeking the peace of the city and praying for it is, in fact, two separate activities. I am calling on Jamaica to recognise that the time to put legs to our prayers for Jamaica is upon us. Praying is great, but praying alone is not enough. Seeking the peace of the city speaks to strategic engagement in the nation-building process in a manner that will benefit everyone in the nation. This includes the political process.
Living in a country and not participating in the building up of that particular country is very wrong and irresponsible - especially if you are a Christian. Jesus pointed out to his followers, the integral role which they should play in the earth when he declared in Matthew 5:13: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."
3 Get involved. The politics system of Jamaica is currently entrenched in darkness to the extent that more than half of the population is totally turned off. They do not participate. However, there is only one cure for darkness and that cure is light.
This light that I am referring to is the leadership, the wisdom, the creativity, and other divine resources from God, that can only flow through his children and no one else. Jesus, again, declared to his followers in Matthew 5: 14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
By not participating in politics, Christians are hiding their light under a basket and that is totally irresponsible behaviour. I am not asking Christians to go and form a political party. I do not believe that is the way we should go. I am saying that we need to engage the responsibility of getting involved in the current system. That is the only way that it can become better."
4Accurate alignment with political parties. One of the worse of the various terrible ailments affecting the politics in Jamaica is the tribal nature of the political process. Many of the diehards have made life-long commitments to political parties and expect their children and their children's children to do likewise. This is nothing but cultish behaviour and practice.
There is absolutely no reason or justification, why anyone should make a life-long and, in many instances, generationally long commitment to any political party or politician - this is strictly God, marriage, and family territory.
Tribal politics has not done any good for Jamaica and have instead:
n Undermined accountability by the politicians to the nation.
n Undermined the motivation for politicians to be more productive in their service.
n Undermined the assignment of quality candidates to many areas, especially if the area is considered a 'safe seat'. In some areas, if you put the village drunk in party colours, people will vote. This is not right.
n Undermined the involvement in politics of the best qualified Jamaicans.
Jamaicans - both Christians and non-Christians must get back to scrutiny of candidates. This will:
n Force party leaders to select proper persons.
n Make the system more accountable to the people.
n Encourage well-qualified persons to participate.
n Empower the people to relate to politicians as public servants and not as kings. They are there to serve us and not to lord it over us.
n Force the political system to respect the people."
5 Speak out. Too many persons in Jamaica who should know better have engaged the 'ah cyan bother' attitude. God expects all of us to lift our voices against unrighteousness, however, the hostility against whistle-blowers or 'informers' as they are called in Jamaica has shut down many people.
I would like to propose that every child of God is called to be a whistle-blower against unrighteousness. The Prophet Isaiah declared in 58:1: "Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins."
Many people are aware of some dark deeds that are committed by persons from the political system, but because of fear, they are not speaking out. However, there are ways of working around the security and other concerns. You can make phone calls or send e-mails from anonymous addresses without revealing your identity.
Furthermore, as people of God, there are times that we have to face the music and speak out against sin. We cannot cower in fear and allow the rot to continue. We must do our part and be ready to pay the price.
If we build a culture of speaking out against the wrong-doings of those in politics, then politicians will be forced to become more transparent and professional in their approach and they may become even more productive as well. The country will not be held captive to the whims and fancies of political leaders.
I want to encourage the Church in Jamaica to accept that we are here in Jamaica and we have to fully participate in the process of building of the nation. We have to allow God to offer the nation an opportunity to become a better country through the involvement of our voices and our lives."
Boynes is urging ordinary Christian people to not underestimate the impact of their various positions as individuals.
He said that all that God needs are willing and obedient hearts, and He will add to our efforts.