Loving Jamaica in spite of brutality
Few persons would be surprised if the American charity, Teams for Medical Missions, pulled out of Jamaica following the gruesome murder of two of its missionaries in St Mary last weekend.
However, according to director John Heater, despite the brutal slaying of Randy Hentzel and Harold Nichols, whose bodies were discovered in bushes just outside the town of Port Maria, the group remains dedicated to building a better Jamaica.
Heater told Family and Religion: "We have been overwhelmed with the support we've received, not only from the community. We have hundreds of people up and down the streets and around the house who are mourning just as we are.
"The police have been wonderful and are clearly working hard, and we really appreciate that. They have lots of people watching them, and from what we're hearing, they are doing a good job, and we really appreciate that.
"We are very pleased. We are not upset or angry with Jamaica. Randy and Harold loved and served the people of Jamaica because they loved and served the Lord Jesus. In our ministry, we are committed to Jamaica and committed to serving.
"We just don't know what that looks like now. We've lost two very key elements to our small ministry, but we're trusting the Lord on that, and we'll see where we go from here."
Heater, who spoke with Prime Minster Andrew Holness at the home of Nichols' widow, Teri, earlier this week, noted that Nichols and Hentzel were the group's main contributors.
He said: "They were responsible for 90 per cent of the work that has been done here. If we're just looking at the ministry, we really have no idea how it's going to continue. But we serve a big God, a God that can bring beauty from ashes, and we trust Him."
Such Christ-like conduct is rare, especially under such terrible circumstances, and although the group's future in St Mary remains unclear, their work - building more than 70 houses, and hosting regular retreats, youth meetings, and Bible study classes - is more than admirable.
As he prepared to fly Nichols and Hentzel back to the United States to make arrangements for their funeral services, Heater acknowledged that without his colleagues' guidance, it was impossible to predict how the group's relationship with Jamaica would be affected in the long term.
He said: "We were on the brink of starting to expand our ministry and were about to purchase an additional property. Obviously, all those things are on hold now. It's a situation like, 'Lord, let me understand what You are doing? We don't like this, we don't get this, but we trust You.'
"We don't know, so we are looking. We're hoping for a revival in Jamaica and we're hoping for some amazing things to happen. We're just looking to see what part we are supposed to play in that."