Adventist Church targets 7,000 youth in anti-crime drive
As part of its outreach mission and also in response to the staggering crime problem in western Jamaica, the western arm of the local Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church has launched an ambitious youth programme targeting 7,000 inner city youth, in an aggressive anti-crime and anti-violence campaign.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative at the SDA's West Jamaica Conference Centre on Tuesday, Pastor Glen Samuels, president of the centre, said the initiative is now in motion, as the Seventh-Day leadership of the four western parishes is poised to roll out the programme come April.
"The youth leadership in the church has accepted the challenge and between now and the end of March are committed to finding 7,000 youth leaders in the Adventist Church and pair them up with another 7,000 youths in the church that are prone to drifting," explained Samuels.
"Between the months of April and June, each of these pair will find one youth - on the corner, unattached, having anti-social behaviour, or falling in the cracks of life - to mentor."
He said the mentorship programme goes beyond just instilling moral and spiritual values, as the project will also aid youngsters in education and skills training as well as assist them in securing jobs.
"Once the persons complete the programme, then the nurturing continues with the whole issue of determining who wants to go to school, who can be aided to get a job, and so forth," said Samuels. "So, ultimately, we hope to make them not just better citizens, but citizens of the Kingdom of God."
According to the pastor, the local Seventh-Day Adventist Church stands ready to go above and beyond its call of duty to rescue its youngsters.
He said the buck does not stop at the church or educators, but also with the average citizen, as well as corporate Jamaica, who he implored to adopt a similar mentorship initiative that can appeal to unattached young men and women who are on the brink of despair and disaster.
"Be mentors to the youth. Motivate them, share your stories, and even if you can't give them full-time employment, then at least give them occasional duties where you can use the opportunity to mentor them and help get them off to a better start," said Samuels.