Kadrian Thomas exploring Christianity
Around eight months ago, 32-year-old entrepreneur, Kadrian Thomas, quit the church in St Mary where he had worshipped for almost two decades, and now describes himself as a "non-denominational" Christian.
Ironically, Thomas, who taught at Islington High School before venturing into the business world, believes that since leaving the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church last year, he has grown spiritually and personally.
He told Family and Religion: "For 17 years, I was a Seventh-day Adventist, and used to attend the Mason Hall church, and sometimes the church at Oracabessa. But my faith was somewhat boxed in and limited, based on the teachings of the group I was a part of.
"I was once legalistic, dogmatic, and judgemental, but things are different now because I've learnt to accept other people, whether you're an atheist, Baptist, Catholic, or a Mormon. Having been exposed to what the gospel really is, my belief in God has become stronger and my horizon as a Christian has broadened because I am able to appreciate what you believe versus what I believe.
"My best friend recommended that I read the book of Galatians, but with an open mind. When I did, I got excited because I realised that I had been reading with a limited mindset. A mindset where we are taught the King James Version of the Bible is the only true version. But when I started researching, I realised that even the Geneva Bible came before the King James Version. Galatians really opened up my mind."
Last month, an elder from one of the SDA churches in St Mary, was accused of having sex with a girl under 16 years and subsequently charged with three counts of child molestation. Thomas said he was saddened, but not surprised by the allegations.
He explained: "We hear about all types of abuse: physical, mental, and sexual, but spiritual abuse, where the abuser holds a position such as a religious leader, can be just as damaging because it cuts to the core of your soul. People who should help you, take advantage, and use the world of God to back what they're doing.
"Some persons never recover and reach a point where they would never trust a pastor or go to church again. They don't want to hear about God or anything religious or spiritual because their soul has been scarred.
"There have been many more cases like that. It's just that in that denomination, people are taught to be fearful. Once you leave or say anything against a pastor or leader, judgement is going to come down on you. People have been ostracised or even worse, that's why I had to leave."
Thomas is nevertheless upbeat about the future of the church in what is arguably the world's most religious country. He said: "I don't see the world from a pessimistic, doom and gloom point of view. I see a positive perspective of the gospel conquering the world.
"When Jesus is fully preached, taught, lived, and exemplified, there will be a transformation in our communities, schools, and churches, and workplaces. The reason we are seeing so many different things happening is because people who claim to be followers of Christ are living a double-sided life. They are Christians on Saturday or Sunday, but for the rest of the week, you don't know."