Church puts residents’ needs first with medical mission, back-to-school fair
More than 200 children from Franklin Town and surrounding communities in Kingston were gifted school packages for the upcoming academic year on Emancipation Day.
The Back to School Extravaganza and Medical Missions was organised by the Franklin Town New Testament Church of God, led by Bishop Ernie Nelson, with the support of Care and Feed My Sheep Inc.
Marketing and public relations team member Sandrina Davis said it was the church’s first time partnering with the overseas mission, which allowed them to execute the annual event on a grander scale.
The overseas team, headed by Jamaican Elaine Henry, sourced and shipped a container filled with back-to-school supplies, food items, clothing, and shoes for distribution.
Davis said that the church was challenged by a flare-up of violence but that the planning committee resolved that the mission was still possible and decided to host a two-part event to facilitate all the communities they had been scheduled to assist.
The main activities were set up on location at the church, and in the evening, volunteer groups walked the surrounding communities of Black Street, Shoe Lane, and McIntyre Villa to distribute care packages with food to those who could not be at the church.
The pastor’s wife, Kerean Nelson, who is a medical doctor, led the medical team at the outreach event. She, along with medical doctors Marlene Tapper and Perry Daley Ogilvie and registered nurse Shanique Higgins, conducted 13 school medicals.
An additional 70 children received dental cleaning at a significantly reduced cost through partnership with Deslin Neunie and the team from DS Prime Health Services.
A number of small businesses and individual donors also gave their support in cash and kind to offset the expenses.
The extravaganza marked the close of the church’s annual week-long Daily Vacation Bible School which it uses as a means of bringing the communities together, beginning with the children.
“It’s an opportunity to have the children in the church. It’s fun and excitement but also a way to introduce them to Jesus. Lots of art and craft, dancing, music, counselling, and behaviour modification happens over that week as well,” Davis said.
She believes that one of the aims of the pastor, who took up leadership of the church in February, is to present the gospel differently.
“People are used to us bringing the gospel of Jesus through the traditional forms of preaching, but we remembered directly by example that Jesus was dealing with the needs of the people as he met them, and so there is a new thrust from our church with community outreach. We want to deal with the needs of people first. Once their needs are being met, they will encounter Jesus,” Davis told The Gleaner.