Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Let us fight for our young men - bishop

Published:Saturday | May 14, 2016 | 5:02 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston

Jamaica continues to grapple with the problem of crime even while solutions are being explored to solve the problem.

Town-hall meetings have been held, as one security minister after another tries to find a solution.

There have been several intervention programmes and still the ugly monster of crime continues to wreak havoc.

In a one-on-one with Family and Religion, Bishop Rowan Edwards of Lighthouse Assembly, in Spanish Town, St Catherine, said that until Government gets to the root of the real problem, crime will continue to be a problem.

According to Edwards, the Government is trying to tackle crime from the top, but that is the wrong approach.

"For you to deal with crime, you have to go to the root and explore the underground issues confronting us as a nation," he said.

The bishop stressed that an effort must be made to discover why crime is escalating.

"It's the fatherlessness. It is creating a breeding ground for gang operation in Jamaica. There is no way you can kill a tree by pruning it," said the bishop.

Edwards pointed out that fatherless boys are being wooed into gangs by the dozen.

"If you can join a gang, get a gun and in a few weeks you making money, why would you want to work? It's only a well-thinking or converted person will leave a life of crime," he said.

On the topic of conversion, Edwards said this is where the Church plays a pivotal role.

While acknowledging Christians' fears and need to be cautious, he said it cannot be "church as usual". He insisted that the Church must play a vibrant role in tackling crime.

"The Church has got to approach it on a different angle. It's more than clapping of hands," said Edwards.

 

MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME

 

The solution for him is for other churches to adopt a programme his church has implemented - one which is now bearing fruits in Spanish Town.

"Eight years ago we started a programme here, where we train men to mentor young boys and other men," he said, adding that this approach has made a big difference.

Edwards said the church makes it a point to liaise with schools to receive information on delinquent boys. He then dispatches the church's male mentoring team to take the boys under their wings.

"If other churches embrace this initiative, delinquent boys across the country will be reached. Men need to go back into schools. If the school has a hundred boys underperforming, go back there and find them and start to mentor them," Edwards said.

For Edwards, the key to solving crime is reclaiming Jamaica's lost boys. He said that one of the areas which has been ignored is the prison system.

"Sometimes when our young men go to prison, instead of coming out reformed they are worse," said Edwards.

He said the Church and, in particular, pastors should work hand in hand with prison officials in this regard.

"Most of the times these young men are released, they just need guidance. Hundreds of pastors are out there. Before they are released, prison officials should alert pastors and allow them to have one-on-one counselling sessions with them," said Edwards.