‘You can change the hearts of your children’
Church in Grants Pen fearlessly pushing for peace amid rising violence in community
AS VIOLENCE continues to escalate in Grants Pen, St Andrew, the Shortwood Seventh-day Adventist Church, located within its environs, wants to remind bloodletters that its members will continue pressing for peace “without fear or compromise”.
Mere hours after a woman was abducted and shot in the head on Friday night, the church, which is located at 10A Grants Pen Road, on Saturday morning during its Sabbath service, collectively gave thanks that none of its hundreds of members have been killed in the recent attacks within the community.
Its members had strong words for the violence producers, many of whom could hear from the speakers.
Church member Carlene Jones, while petitioning the Throne of Grace during an intercessional prayer for the church members and on the visitors’ behalf, was the first to utter a major request to the Almighty for peace among those living in the community.
“This morning, Lord God, I place your community before you, the community of Grants Pen. Mighty God, the enemy has staged a war in this community but we are happy to know that we know the God of Heaven who never lost a battle, and it doesn’t matter what the enemy is raging, Mighty God. You have already won the battle,” Jones said.
“Merciful God! We know you know everything but you still want to hear from us! ... This morning, Mighty God, your children are here. They have come because they know, oh God, it’s a good thing to come before you in your house of praise! God, you only know what is on our minds. I don’t know what your children went through during the course of this week, but you do,” she said.
With many of the Shortwood Seventh-day Adventist Church’s members living along Shortwood Lane where a triple murder took place on September 24, she said God has placed that specific church in the community “as a lighthouse” and He is asking the members who live in the areas going through heightened tension “to spread the light”
BLEEDING BODIES, HEARTS
On Friday night, a trainee teacher was assisted to hospital after she was shot in the head inside the community. She was admitted at hospital in serious condition.
With this, Jones stressed that the community of Grants Pen is now bleeding.
“Mighty God, I’m asking you to visit every family in this community. You alone know what to do. Oh God, only You alone can do certain things. You alone can do some things, oh God, that we can’t do! You are asking us to go out, but you can change the hearts of your children, Mighty Father!” Jones said.
“We pray that you will visit the homes in the community; the families. The families that have strayed away from You and there in the tent of the enemy. They’re in the camp of the enemy and they’re carrying out the enemy’s mission, Mighty God. They are killing, they are stealing and they are destroying the lives of people and their livelihood! This community is bleeding this morning! So many families are crying out!” she said.
PAINFUL AND CHAOTIC
Immediately after Lambert Hamilton, pastor of the Shortwood Seventh-day Adventist Church, approached the altar to deliver his sermon, there was the loud blaring of an emergency vehicle’s siren, which he pointed out was a reminder of the trials the community is now facing.
“As I heard the siren just now, I’m reminded of all that has been happening in Grants Pen for the past two weeks, and, this week, my heart bled as I considered the chaos, as I looked at the scenes and I saw people’s sons wasted at the mercies of the gun. This week, I cried,” Brown said in his opening address.
“I don’t know about you, brethren, but none of these who died are related to me in any way, but just the awareness that that’s it ... is enough to melt my heart,” he said.
He then repeated “God has been good!” before bursting into a rendition of Amazing Grace, which the church joined in singing.
He then empathised with those from the church who live along Shortwood Lane and had to seek cover during the shootings, and continue to live in panic, fear, discomfort and anxiety.
“Some of you can testify that you have had to duck and take cover and go under your bed! The experience is different for those who live uptown, and those who, when the bullets start raining next door, you have to start praying!” he said.
The Shortwood Seventh-day Adventist Church hosts regular community outreach meetings, and hosted one in Markland Lane the day before the triple murder.
A recent spate of killings, including a triple murder on Sunday, suggests that the area is heading back to the worst of its times – the 1980s up to the early 2000s.
In the early hours of the previous day of the triple shooting, a brother of dancehall deejay Jahshii was shot dead at a shop owned by their father. Weeks before that, Jahshii himself escaped a shooting ambush while leaving an event about a mile away from Grants Pen.
Prior to the attack on Jahshii, a man was shot dead in Grants Pen, allegedly after an altercation with Jahshii’s mother. She insisted the altercation never happened.