Pastor hopes to recruit more men to the church
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
The general overseer for the 10 branches of the Church of God Holiness in Jamaica, Pastor Winston Vidal, is originally from Hanover, but has been ministering in Bailey's Vale, just outside of Port Maria, St Mary, for the last 40 years.
Vidal travels the length and breadth of the country to minister and has observed that each parish's local residents have their own particular habits and nuisances, and St Mary is no exception.
Speaking with Family and Religion last week, he said: "I've discovered that every parish has their own culture, style, customs, and names. For example, in Hanover, we have a cane called Bamboo, which is soft and very valuable to planters, but in St Catherine, they call the same cane 'larina' because to them, bamboo cane is tough (laughs).
"The people in St Mary, especially those I have to deal with, are kind and hospitable, but they are more likely to go for their own people than strangers. They respond to outsiders, but they prefer to deal with people who were born and grown in the area. Aside from that, my ministry here has been rewarding."
The friendly pastor believes the secret to his success is due in large part to the simplicity of his church's teachings. He explained: "We preach the plain gospel that man must be saved and sanctified because he has two natures - the lower and higher.
"When you get saved, the Adamic nature you were born with is still there, and although man feels the joy of salvation, after a while, he discovers his old way of life and goes back to his bad habits, and this can take some people quite a while to break off.
"This is what we call 'carnal nature', where sometimes people feel like they want to serve God, and at other times they don't. That person is in a difficult situation because he wants to serve God on the one hand, but at the same time, the devil is appealing on the other.
"That nature has to be dealt with and to do that, we believe a person should seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which we call sanctification. That will destroy or eradicate the Adamic nature and allow God's Holy Spirit to come and possess the soul and heart. Then you will have the divine nature, which makes you not want to sin anymore, you just want to please God."
Looking ahead, Pastor Vidal hopes to implement some new strategies that will attract more men to church as the gender imbalance among his members has become something of an issue.
He said: "In our churches, we have few men, and in some cases, none, which has become a concern for us. We are connected to the Eastern Caribbean Conference of Church of God Holiness, who recently recommended that we launch a men's fellowship.
"We had one going in a church in St Catherine, so I went there and encouraged them to keep it going, and then recently, we asked a brother to start a men's fellowship in our church. The aim is to invite men, whether they are saved or not; have a talk with them and some form of recreation or social activity. By doing that, hopefully, we will make some progress."