Grateful for helping hands
Every year, the charitable arm of Couples Resorts, the Issa Trust Foundation (ITF), invites United States volunteers to Jamaica to deliver free health care services to children in and around the areas where the hotels are based.
The New Testament Church of God in Oracabessa, St Mary, is one of the locations the medics visit and, according to the church's pastor, Norman Johnson, the effects of the team's support and labour on the local community are nothing short of spectacular.
Speaking earlier this week during the volunteers' most recent trip, he told Family and Religion: "We have a team of medical volunteers here today to ensure that proper health care has been assumed. Health care is very important because when a person's health is intact, many other things are able to take place.
"We believe it's very important to allow people to understand how much they need to take care of themselves. We have a responsibility to take care of our own health, and once we do that, we should be good and alright.
THE CHURCH'S ROLE
"The reason I work so closely with the ITF is because we have a mission statement that drives our church: 'We're large enough to share, but small enough to care and hear'. So, we just try to be as hospitable as possible so they will feel good and want to come back.
"Sometimes as a church, we misunderstand what our purposes are because when you look at it, the Church should be providing this sort of service, but I think we have it all twisted. The Church is supposed to operate basic functions such as worship, praise, evangelism, and ministry.
"And when you check it out, what's happening here is ministry. The Church should be interested in people, and that means their welfare and health. But I think it's sometimes a matter of misperception because as a church, we get caught up in so many other things."
Johnson said he was very grateful to the ITF for the assistance as it allows him to concentrate on tackling some of the other pressing issues afflicting the people of St Mary.
He explained: "Religion comes with all manner of things. I was just talking to a policeman and saying that most of the battles we're fighting right now are more spiritual than physical. I think that's where most of the challenges are. We are fighting some serious spiritual battles at home, personally and environmentally.
"To address these issues, we must first get an understanding of who we are, what our purpose is, and who made us, because I think we have moved away from a God who we should be serving. We're focusing on a lot of the things that are around us, but when you do that, you become vulnerable to a lot of the things that are around us.
"I just think we need to know the responsibilities we have. We have a responsibility to serve God, to serve ourselves, and to serve our fellow people. Once we understand that equation, I'm sure we'll be well on our way."