Laranzo Dacres , Gleaner Writer
Errol Newland is a missionary at heart. This husband and father of eight services defective lawnmowers and generators, does landscaping, yet finds time to preach the gospel on public buses.
"It is a calling that I got from God," Newland said. "He gave me an assignment to do his work."
Newland told Automotives the bus routes which he commutes are mainly 500 and 53 - from Half-Way Tree to Downtown Kingston - but sometimes he travels from Kingston to Spanish Town, "if he is so instructed".
"I preach when I am going to work in the mornings and coming home in the evenings," he said. "But if God has something for me to do, I will just leave what I am doing and spend an entire day preaching."
It is not usual for commuters to see preachers on buses.
"The message of a preacher on a bus can touch your life. For example, if you were thinking negatively, sometimes the Word can leave you thinking positively," Ryan Brooks, bus passenger said. "But I don't believe in the ones that beg money."
For student Sheldon Brown it is a joy to hear the message of God, but at times, some of the 'on-bus preachers' tend to, in his opinion, go overboard.
"Some of them make too much noise on the bus. Some just use preaching as an excuse to get money; so it becomes annoying after a while," Brown said. "But what is good is when there is preaching and singing and everyone in the bus gets involved," he said.
In response, missionary Newland said: "If I am preaching on the bus for the whole day and I am short of bus fare I would ask for a donation, of course ... but salvation is not for sale. My experience is that there might be one or two abusive persons on a bus and they'll tell me to shut up because I am making too much noise … but other passengers would come to my defence."
Retired civil servant Neveta Dacres said she would take the opportunity to conduct 'a service' to and from work.
"Jesus said we must go into all the world and preach the gospel and in the bus there is a mixture of people, so it is one of the best times to spread the message," she said.
But Newland and Dacres are convinced they have a calling and agree they are not in it for glory or riches, but just doing Christ's work.