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For the Love of God

Passionate volunteers, workers say why they help the less fortunate

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, December 14, 2017



JAMAICA continues to be blessed by the works of a number of non-profit organisations and individuals who take pleasure in assisting the less fortunate and underprivileged in the country.

A number of those involved in this type of charity are themselves from humble beginnings and know the stigma that attaches itself to both poverty and homelessness, but giving back is second nature to them and the jobs they do on a daily basis are far more meaningful, to many, than the occasional 'feel good' donations from some.

Year-long philanthropic works from organisations such as: Breakthrough Ministries, the Association of Business Persons, Open Arms Centre, and Good Samaritan Inn — a subsidiary of East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists — have changed the lives of the many they have come in contact with.

Members of these organisations, who were special guests at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, shared the reason for their continued charitable efforts.

“My motivation comes from growing up in the country. I used to have one pair of shoes. I wore that one pair of shoes to church, to school and to functions. I remember I used to walk barefoot to school and when I reach the school gate I would put on those shoes. So my motivation comes from my experience. I know when someone is in need. I don't only seek to give persons tangible things, but the love of God speaks to how we should conduct ourselves and showing persons love has a lot to do with it because when a person feels that love and that passion, it helps them a lot,” secretary of ministries at Breakthrough Ministries, Katie-Ann Thames told Observer editors and reporters.

Her colleague, Joan Aird, chairman of outreach at Breakthrough Ministries, believes that in order to live a purpose driven life one has to be selfless. Aird, a product of an inner-city community, is also a probation officer and social worker.

“I think I was born a missionary. Having grown up in the inner city I realise how it is to be needy… I work with offenders, and so I know. I not only work with the church, but I extend the missionary and outreach to the community. For those persons who are not as privileged, I will take time out to teach these people how to write résumés, teach them how to write application letters and also to find jobs for them. I think my experience is what motivates me,” Aird said.

The Association of Business Persons' Sheryl Muir believes that life, at some point, is difficult for everyone. That is why the organisation she is a part of donates to organisations such as Open Arms Centre.

“What I found out about myself growing as a human being is that I am happiest when I am helping someone or giving back to society. When you sit down in your home and you complain about the simple things, there are people out there with nothing. Why are we complaining? When I give back to others I have to reassure myself that there is nothing to complain about in life,” Muir told the Observer.

Yvonne Grant of Open Arms Centre provides shelter, baths and meals, among other things, for boys and men who otherwise cannot afford to do this on their own.

“Everywhere I went in Jamaica I saw needy people and homeless people and I just could not relax. And I worked to change what I can, regarding that. I can tell you that I am happy and I am satisfied. I just love everybody and I will feed you from now till next year,” the woman who returned from London, United Kingdom, to work without a salary said.

At the Salvation Army, the missionary statement says the movement is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian church's message, which is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet the needs of this day without discrimination.

Captain in the organisation Oliver Michels has dedicated his life to helping others.

“I became a member of the Salvation Army at three years old. My parents soon after that became Salvation Army officers and they raised me in the very practical ministry of the Salvation Army. Much later in life I became a Salvation Army officer and it blew my mind… I believe that I am motivated by the love of God to preach Jesus Christ and not always use words. That means sometimes just reaching out a hand. …We do it because the love of Christ constrains us to comfort all men,” Captain Michels said.

High school drop-out and now major at the Salvation Army Oral Morris said that he joined the organisation in order to do what God called him to do.

“Why do I do this? I say to people if you want to get rich; if you are one of those persons who believe in personal prosperity don't become a Salvation Army officer. It's not going to happen. We signed up for this, that if the funds are there you get an allowance. If it's not there you do without. We understand that; we signed up for that. So, when other churches and pastors boast about their airplane I don't feel jealous because I signed up for this and I am enjoying myself. I just enjoy doing the work of God. It's love for God and it's love for man,” he said.

Good Samaritan Inn's Vermont Murray said charitable work is done “because of the love of God”.

“I do Good Samaritan's work not because I get a salary. I am the managing director of a very successful company and I live comfortably and I am blessed. So, when I get involved with this I am not doing it for a salary, or status or recognition. I do it because of the love of God and recognising needy people. …Nobody could ever pay me a salary to do this work. It is demanding it is stressful and there is just ingratitude from the people, but you don't look at that; you look at what Jesus would have done. And so it is the love of God that has motivated me to do this,” he said.

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