'People are seeking material wealth from the Church'
ORACABESSA, St Mary:
According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, at various times during discussions with His disciples, Jesus posed the question: 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul'?
Mankind's desire for material wealth is a topic Jesus explored on several occasions and more than 2,000 years later, the subject remains relevant. In fact, some members of the Youth Mass Choir at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Oracabessa, St Mary, believe it is the biggest issue facing the people of their parish.
Choir member Reynaldo Williams told Family and Religion: "People nowadays seem to be more responsive to the prosperity message. They want to know: what is it that I can get if I go to church, a husband, wife, house, car, land, or a job?"
Somiah Jackson said: "People are more interested in the material gain they can get from the Church, instead of the spiritual gain that comes from the Church. And as such, people are not very responsive to the clear, outlined word of God. They seem to be much more interested in other things.
"So when the Church goes out there, spreads the message, and tells people to change their lives, or worship on the Sabbath, they are not readily responding to that, which is probably our greatest problem."
Marvetta Clarke believes the challenge is great because modern society places such a large emphasis on materialism and consumerist behaviour. She explained: "People nowadays think they should get everything quickly, so they don't have the patience to wait.
"When you speak to them about these things, they say: 'If I stop working on Saturday, how am I going to eat, how am I going to buy things, and how are my children going to go to school? They don't wait on either the Lord or you to help them make some preparations, they just think negative at all times because of material things."
Jackson said: "As humans, I would say that we don't accept correction quickly, which in this instance comes in the form of the word of the Lord. People are not easily going to come out of their comfort zones.
"A man who drinks rum, that's what he knows, so outside of the Holy Spirit, it's not easy for him to just put down the rum bar and rum drinking, and come to a church where you can't drink any form of alcohol."
Cindy Williams adds: "It can be really hard for people to come out of their comfort zones and enter the unknown, a place where they are not even sure they will be comfortable after a while. And that's why Christianity takes great faith.
"As a church, we have activities that are geared towards getting more people in, but I think there is more that can be done. There are things like health fairs that we can use to get the community involved."
Jackson concludes: "I think that as individuals, we can reach out to people. Everybody has a friend, and if they recognise you are having a good life as a Christian, it is much easier to convince that friend, and one friend can convince another, until we reach everyone in St Mary."