Lighthouse of Praise feeding the needy in four parishes
True to its calling to serve the hungry and less fortunate, the Montego Bay-based Lighthouse of Praise Ministry, which has been shining its light of generosity since 2016, has added another dimension to its mission since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking its outreach to four parishes in total.
Pastor Luton Golding, who founded the ministry in Hanover in 2011 and subsequently re-established it in Montego Bay in 2015, told The Gleaner that the feeding programme began out of a need that was clearly identified in the western city.
“The programme was initiated due to an overwhelming number of individuals showing up at our Barnett Street location at the time, and those persons were in need of a meal or cash to purchase basic necessities. Our annual programme was converted to a monthly venture on April 18, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 situation,” said Golding.
“This feeding programme was originally held twice per year, during Easter and Christmas. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affecting the less fortunate, the programme has been extended to being held once per month,” Golding explained. “The programme has significantly impacted the less fortunate, ranging from those on the gully side, under bridges, and in bus shelters to disabled individuals and members of the elderly cohort.”
Each month, the Lighthouse of Praise Ministry team prepares cooked meals and food packages with rice, cornmeal, flour, sugar, cooking oil, biscuits, bread, and tinned food for distribution. The programme has so far benefited several communities across St James, Hanover, Clarendon, and St Thomas, and there are plans to expand the outreach even further.
“On a monthly basis, an estimated 240 individuals benefit from this initiative, spanning across these four parishes. We do intend to expand beyond the four parishes, provided we have adequate support and increased sponsorship,” said Golding. “So far, we have partnered with the Friends in Need group from Mandeville, Manchester, and the Port Morant Lifeline Mission from Port Morant, St Thomas.”
Golding’s passion for helping those in need stems from his own childhood as he grew up constantly seeking to assist young people in his native community of Success, Hanover.
“Feeding and taking care of the less fortunate is something I have been doing from an early age. In my community of Success, I used to help out young persons to go to school, helping with lunch money and bus fare, and we used to cook on weekends and the young people would eat,” Golding recalled.
“This feeding programme is something dear to my heart as I did not grow up with a mother or a father. My father died when I was three months old, and my mom died when I was seven years old,” said Golding. “Knowing all of that, and seeing the needs of persons, especially street individuals, gave me a push to really go out there and help. For me, ministry is about helping those in need.”