Churches should confront evil
THE EDITOR, Madam
The Jamaica Evangelical Alliance (JEA) is deeply saddened by and abhors the tragedy that took place at the Pathway International Kingdom Restoration Ministries of Montego Bay. We firmly believe that this incident represents a very serious and disturbing development in Jamaica. The fact that three persons were killed and three others hospitalised in the name of religion, is enough to send reason reeling.
The deception and seduction of power, both individual and institutional, is a tale deeply rooted in history. It is extremely sad that under the guise of the Church, the misuse and abuse of authority has taken a very devastating toll in broken lives and congregations. It is unfortunate that there are incidences where some pastors end up feeding off people, using them to meet their needs or make up for their vulnerabilities. This behaviour is condemned in the Bible, and Ezekiel 34 warns against shepherds and their lavished lifestyles, rather than looking out for the well-being of their sheep.
If we are true to the Word of God, we must admit that the religious ritual in Montego Bay is not Christianity. What went down is evil! It is clearly demonic, and the Christian Church has a responsibility to confront evil with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God!
The JEA believes that there is an urgent need to examine the widening Christian culture in Jamaica, with its temptations towards fame and status, feeding into the problem of abusive church leaders. The way the Bible depicts the Church, Christ is the head and we are part of his body. This means that there is a system involved, but the system is one that is supposed to follow its head. The congregation has some responsibility for keeping the system healthy, mainly by worshipping Christ, and Him alone. The Church also needs to pray for its leaders, that God will uphold them in godly leadership; not for the sake of gaining the material and reputational blessings that some have come to love so much, but for God himself to be honoured above all.
The JEA would like to commend the members of the security forces who responded promptly to this incident to avert further disaster, and we remain committed to doing all that we can to educate persons concerning deception and warning signs of cultic practices. We also pray for the unfortunate members of the movement, who have been traumatised, and for those who have lost their loved one.
REV DR PETER GARTH
President, Jamaica Evangelical Alliance