Jamaica needs prayer and Christians, says Adventist women’s leader
Dr Lorraine Vernal, director of family, women’s, children’s and adolescent ministries for the Adventist church in Jamaica, is seeing the condition and plight of women and children in Jamaica as dire and is appealing to families to bring peace back into the home.
Referencing Galatians 5:22-25, Vernal posited that many are great at talking about the Word of God, but do not live it.
“Jamaica needs prayer and Christians,” said Vernal. “A United Nations Women’s Report said 28 per cent of Jamaican women have experienced intimate-partner violence over their lifetime. The homicide rate for Jamaican women is nine per 100,000, but this is six times higher than the world’s average of 1.6,” said Vernal, who was the main speaker at the ‘End it Now’ initiative on August 28, held under the theme ‘Bring Peace Home, Addressing Youth Violence at its Roots’.
The service was streamed to the world from the North Street Adventist Church amid government-imposed restrictions for 20 persons in physical attendance, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 across the country.
Vernal intimated that the incidence of violence in the country has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has served to make a bad situation worse in some families.
“Jamaica is in trouble, and if nobody is able to help Jamaica, don’t you think Christians should be able to help?” she asked. “Yes, we should be able to help,” she added.
The situation in the country was again highlighted through information shared on July 5. This information revealed that Jamaica is one of the most violent countries in the Caribbean. In 2020, there were approximately 46.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in the island nation, making it the highest homicide rate in Latin America and the Caribbean that year.
Vernal invited her listeners to become part of the solution in ending violence in the society by becoming advocates in order to help others. “There are people who need us, there are people who are crying and need our help, we cannot afford to remain silent,” she said.
Statistics from the RAINN.org (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) website highlighted the severity of the abuse being experienced by children. According to the data, one in nine girls experience sexual abuse or assault by an adult, while one in 53 boys experience sexual abuse or assault by an adult. The figures also revealed that 82 per cent of all victims under the age of 18 are females and that nine out of 10 rape victims are female.
In giving advice to children to protect themselves from abusers, Vernal encouraged them not to remain silent on the subject of abuse. “I say to my children, if someone is making you uncomfortable, make noise, scream out or find somebody to tell.”
In his greetings at the virtual service, Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, said that “As members and leaders of the Church, we have a moral duty and responsibility to be advocates of this initiative to end abuse and violence … ENDITNOW!”
“At the root of all violence and abuse in the home, in the world and our community, is sin. And until we eradicate sin from our home, we will not eradicate violence and abuse in our community and the society. As we seek to do so, we should seek to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, because until Jesus Christ becomes the centre of our lives, where we learn to respect and love each other, we will not be able to see the end of violence and abuse of our children and our women becoming a reality,” Brown said.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange commended the Women’s Ministries Department of the Jamaica Union Conference for leading the ‘End it Now’ initiative in Jamaica. Grange spoke of the high level of violence taking place in the country and noted the negative impact of violence on the society. “Whether we come from, uptown or downtown, we have all seen and felt the effects of the high level of violence in our country,” she said. “It destroys people, it destroys families and it destroys communities.”
She presented the solution to the problem as “love” and used Galatians 5:14 as the basis for her statement. “Where there is love, there is also respect, there is mutual understanding and there is peace,” she added.
A special prayer for the nation was made by Pastor Manley Phillips, prayer coordinator for the East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.