New beginnings - Jamaicans urged to stand firm in face of failure, grief and move forward in 2014
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Kerry-Ann Gayle Ffolkes felt like her world ended two months ago when her husband died, but she refused to die with him and instead, signalled to the world that she would make a fresh beginning at the start of 2014.
Just beside Gayle Ffolkes sat Mordecai Johnson, an elderly man who lost his daughter, Simone at the start of 2013.
He also took the life-changing decision for a new start in 2014 - the embodiment of the hopes and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of Jamaican worshippers who witnessed the start of yet another year Tuesday night into yesterday morning.
Gayle Ffolkes and Johnson were among four persons who signalled their new start by being baptised at the Portmore Gospel Assembly (PGA) in Passage Fort, Portmore, St Catherine, on New Year's Eve.
The two others who symbolically signalled new beginnings were Lelieth Pusey and Jennifer Campbell.
PGA, along with neighbouring Power of Faith Ministries and the popular New Testament Church in Bay Side, were among thousands of churches across the island that ushered in the New Year with the traditional watch-night service that accommodated tens of thousands of Jamaicans.
The church opened its baptismal pool minutes after 11 as the clock ticked inexorably towards the end of 2013, while others around lit colourful fire crackers and watched the festive fireworks at the downtown Kingston waterfront and elsewhere.
Those who opted to worship were told that divine intervention must top the public agenda in 2014.
Earlier, Evangelist Dezvon Harbajan prayed for Jamaica, entreating the Lord to grant the necessary wisdom to prevent the "selling out of the people's birth right and inheritance".
But with the myriad socio-economic challenges that confronted Jamaicans from all walks of life in 2013, still lingering stubbornly at the end of the year, Evangelist David Bignal, who delivered the sermon, urged people not to give up in the face of failures and grief.
"The message of hope may not have come through in 2013 but the breakthrough may just come in 2014," he declared to a rapt congregation. "I want to say to you tonight, whatever your plans and programmes at the threshold of a new year, I urge you my brothers and sisters, never give up."
Bignal cited the experiences of popular biblical character Ruth who faced numerous challenges, not unlike the present-day calamities faced by many Jamaicans.