Young pastor paddling against the currents ... and winning
THE GEOGRAPHICAL landscape of Jamaica is dotted with many places of worship. In most of them the congregation consists mainly of older woman, and men to certain extent. Even those where there is a high number of youth members, the females usually outnumber the males.
Thus, it isgenerally felt that young men are not interested in church and the church ministry, in particular. Reverend Travis Drummond at the Annotto Bay Baptist Church is not one of such young men. In his 30s, he is also the pastor at Clonmel, Enfield, and Epsom. And, he has been leading some people who have been members before he was even born.
Born and bred in Grange Hill, Drummond was christened in the Baptist Church through a special arrangement, since neither of his parents was a married member. He grew up in Sunday school and has never left the Baptist Church, as it was like family to him. In it he said he had many mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. “I was a Baptist before I was a Christian,” he quipped.
“Growing up in the church, you are part of a community,” Drummond said. There was much involvement, and camaraderie, and it “provided opportunities for fellowship, integration, a sense of belonging, and also exposure”. The elements of family and community support he found attractive. It is not always about preaching about salvation, and getting saved. People get the opportunity to become “a better version of themselves”. The friendships he had developed along the way and “good family support” are part of what has kept him grounded, he also revealed.
Pastor Drummond attended Frome High School in Westmoreland, wanted to attend Bethlehem Moravian College to be trained as a teacher, but ended up at Bethel Bible College (BBC), where he majored in theology, and minored in guidance and counselling. In his fourth year at BBC, he was sent by the Jamaica Baptist Union for pastoral training at the United Theological College. He was not satisfied with being just a member; he was interested in leadership also.
Pastor Drummond was youth president for the Westmoreland Baptist Association, a member of the National Youth Executive, and served as camp counsellor, annually. In the Mandeville (Manchester), Stewart Town (Trelawny) and Fellowship (Portland) circuits he was a student pastor. At Fellowship, he said he experienced “joy” and a sense of“fulfilment” because of what he was able to accomplish.
He went to ABBC in 2016 as an interim pastor at a time when there were leadership issues and a rapidly dwindling congregation. It has been steadily growing since then as he has developed a positive relationship between members and the wider Annotto Bay Community. He has made himself available and approachable. Everything that he does is “intentional”, he said, and thus there is much spiritual, social and infrastructural growth under his leadership.
Knowing what was happening prior to his arrival, Reverend Drummond said he went into the job “cautious” and “sober”, and took up the mantle to offer leadership, and that is what he is giving. He is living a “spiritually fulfilling life”, and but what about the young people who are going around with all sorts of low self-esteem, psychosocial, psychosexual, socio-economic and mental ill-health issues?
Some are drawn to a life of crime, doom and destruction as a result of their inability to successfully navigate against the said issues. The question then that was posed to him was: “The young men, young women, out there, who are confused, going around in circles, not having any sense of purpose … what is your grand message to them?”
“Not everybody will be a pastor, not everybody will be a Baptist … But, however we choose to live our lives, we must ensure that it has a positive impact … because life is brief. We are not owners of ourselves, and I believe that is why you must find purpose, and you must ensure that, when you have discovered your purpose you have a positive impact on people,” he replied.
And what has kept him and his youthfulness from being pulled in by the strong whirlpool of social ills that has been pervading every nook and cranny of this country? He made it clear that he is not motivated by money, but also said, “I am convinced that I have been called by God. It is God that has invited me to share in the ministry of Jesus Christ.”