'We are spending too much on the dead'
Minister of Religion John F.K. Martin has said that families are more inclined to spend big bucks on their dead relatives than to use it to provide for their needs when they are alive. "The dead mean more to us than the living. We spend less on the living and more on the dead. That's how things have become. Some of us, when our loved ones are alive, we don't seek to spend time with them or care for them financially, but when they die, that's when all the big money spending begins; lots of liquor and food to the fullness and enjoyment at set up," Martin lamented.
He added: " There are expensive caskets and funeral packages because we have to send home the dead in style, and God frowns on these things. He is not pleased with these doings."
CHURCH FILLED ONLY AT FUNERALS
The Gregory Park Seventh-day Adventist pastor also highlighted another concern. "Churches are filled to capacity only when there is a body to be buried. It's sad to say, but majority of the time when church is overflowing on a Sunday is when there is a dead body to be committed. People come in their numbers with their crying, sometimes with paid mourners to put on a show," Martin said.
"Nowadays, some of us feel we don't need the church. We don't want to hear the pastor, but the moment a loved one dies, the first place people head to is the church, and then to the pastor because, then, they want to hear the word of God. You can't hear the word of God when you're dead, so when you're alive, it's the greatest opportunity to hear the gospel from the mouth of his servants," he told Family and Religion.
He added: "These days, we have dancehall funerals with sound systems in party-like settings. The person dead and instead of mourning, there is a big dance set up and band at the funerals disturbing the dead. It's a trend I've watched over time."
Martin pointed out that sometimes church members have to beg people to go to church, but when there is a funeral, everybody attends. "Some claim they cannot find clothes to go to church, but they manage to find it for the funeral," he bemoaned.
He declared that the gospel does not seem to mean much to the masses.
"The Bible says we should rejoice when one dies and cry when one is born because the one that is born may be the one to come and take your life, but the one who has died cannot do you any harm. However, we have turned this around and we rejoice when one is born and we mourn the death of a loved one," Martin said.
Hosea 4:6 says, "The people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge." When a family member is getting baptised, or at the dedication of a baby, there is hardly anyone there, but when a person dies and is of no more use to us, then we all gather at the church for funeral," Martin said.
The clergyman said going out into the world to preach the gospel and ministering to the people is the first step toward changing this growing practice. "The gospel must be taken beyond the four walls of the church. We need to find creative ways to reach the people."