Mon | Sep 25, 2017

From the gambling den to the rostrum

Published:Saturday | March 19, 2016 | 3:00 AMShanna Kaye Monteith

Narine George had an addiction. She didn't have a drug problem, nor was she struggling with smoking, George was an ardent, die-hard gambler.

It all started when she was a teenager.

"My siblings and I began playing cards for money in our living room. As soon as our mother left for work, we would call over friends. Then after playing, we would hurriedly get our chores done and get ready for school.

"This happened for quite awhile until we were on holiday. I started to go on the street with the gambling whenever my mother left. My siblings weren't true gamblers, but I had fallen in love with it.

"Anywhere the gambling was happening, Peaches or Blackie (as she is called) could be found around the table," she said.

The St Thomas native told Family and Religion that she later joined a domino club which meetings were held in the vicinity of a large and famous gambling den and it was there her love for the game became an addiction.

According to her, "I begged and borrowed. Anything just to get money to gamble.

"It was my only source of enjoyment because I was never a partygoer, smoker, or a drinker - all I did was gamble. It became my passion. As soon as morning came, I would tidy up the place and leave out for the den. And there I stayed until late nights.

"Even when I had my children I used to leave them with my sister and go to and gamble all day."

The mother of two said that she visited Antigua and stayed for nine months to "cool off the gambling".

"While there, my sister called to tell me that she got saved so I made a promise to myself that as soon as I get back I would get baptised too. But when I came back, the gambling began again. I broke my promise.

"Until one Friday night going into Saturday morning, when I was leaving the den to go home, I had an encounter at the bottom of my lane. Something appeared before me and my head felt as it were swelling. I questioned what it was and my head rose bigger so I ran straight back to the den. I became so afraid that all my feelings for gambling were lost."

George decided to go to church the following Sunday and ended up going for the entire week.

"I looked into myself and decided that I wanted to get saved, I didn't just want to be a visitor, so I told the pastor," she said.

Now 18 years later, and as many times stronger, George is pleased to say that she has never looked back at a gambling den.

"I can tell anyone who has an addiction that you don't have to go to rehab. You just have to believe God and know that He can save you because He did it for me. Gambling was my life! Now I'm happily married and Holy-Ghost filled. I now sing on my choir and hold the role as the vice-president of the young people (group) in my church. I have never felt the urge to play for money since I've been saved. I wanted to stop and God worked on my desire," she said.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com