Salvation Army celebrates 130 years of ministry in Jamaica
The Salvation Army (SA) Eastern Divisional Youth Band travelled to the seaside town of Port Maria, St Mary, recently to perform a special concert as part of at its 130th anniversary celebrations.
According to the organisation's commander for the Eastern Jamaica Division, Darrell Wilkinson, the concert, which was attended by approximately 120 patrons, was the first in a series of commemorative events taking place in the eastern side of the country throughout 2017.
Speaking after the show, Wilkinson told Family and Religion: "Today, we are having a concert, which is part of our celebration of 130 years of ministry in Jamaica, and it's really been wonderful, better than I expected.
"We intend to do this at the SA [church] in Buff Bay, (Portland), on the last Sunday in April and three other locations around eastern Jamaica throughout the year. This year, youth and children are our emphasis, so we thought it would be appropriate to have a youth band commencing this series of events."
Wilkinson was born in Barbados but has spent 19 years ministering in Jamaica and believes steadfastness is the key to the SA's longevity and success throughout the Caribbean.
FAITH AND COMMITMENT
"We're very grateful to God for the number of years that He's allowed us to minister here in Jamaica. I think the main reason we've been able maintain such a significant presence for such a long period of time is because of our faithfulness and commitment to God.
"We have what I call 'a holistic ministry' because we're not just thinking about praising God in church. We think about the entire person - both body and soul. That's what we believe the gospel and Christianity is all about: our relationship with God, each other, and ourselves."
Wilkinson similarly believes that the biggest religious problem he has observed working up and down the country is a general lack of self-knowledge among the population.
He said: "I think the biggest issue facing Jamaicans is a sense of understanding of who they are and whose they are. If we understand that we belong to God and try to live by His principles, that would make a lot of difference. But once you start thinking in terms of a particular denomination, you'll find yourself in trouble. We must think in terms of relationships with God.
"The best way to ensure that people understand that ethos is to live it. You can preach it, but living it is critical, and I think that's where we have fallen down over the years. We talk about it, but we haven't lived it sufficiently to impact the lives of individuals."