Everett Brown, the president of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, challenged newly installed leaders in the North East Jamaica Conference region to make people and the community their main objective in the church’s mission.
The Adventist leader made the challenge against the backdrop of a recent spate of murders committed against women and children in the country.
“To remain relevant and true to mission, the church must identify with the needs of people,” Brown said as he addressed the new leaders at the Port Maria Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Mary on Sabbath (Saturday), September 8, 2018. “To identify with the pain and sorrows that the community in which you serve experience is an integral part of your mission.”
Brown said that in the pursuit of mission, leaders accept the responsibility to care for the sick, the poor, the socially disadvantaged, and the vulnerable in society.
“You are installed to empower and lead a church to achieve mission when the abuse of women and children in the society is rising, called to make a difference when human trafficking, murder, and all forms of corrupt practices continue to affect our spiritual and national development as a nation. Meeting people’s spiritual, social, and physical needs is the business of the church.”
The goal of the church is to change and transform lives, Brown said. “In that context, the church is like a hospital, with sin-sick people from every stratum of society. Our goal is to lead everyone, barring none, to Jesus.”
Although he did not make direct reference to any crime, Brown's comments come on the heels of the suspected suicide of 59-year-old Adventist deacon Linton Stephenson of Mandeville, Manchester, who was being sought in connection with the recent murder of 25-year-old Khyhymn Campbell.
“We must not give up on people who are in need of healing and salvation, we must not shrink back from engaging in mission activities because some of our leaders and members have failed God and the church,” Brown said.
The president went on to say that the church today is not perfect and will not perfectly reflect in her totality the power of the gospel. “But one day, the church militant will become the triumphant church, the spotless bride of Christ.”
Stephenson, a deacon at the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manchester, was on parole following his release from prison for a previous murder conviction, according to police reports. He was also wanted for illegal possession of a firearm.
A day before Stephenson was found dead last week, Brown condemned the alleged murder and appealed for the individual to turn himself in to the police.
“The church today must not be judged or defined by her failure to change and transform all,” said Brown. “God’s physical church is a work in progress. One day His work of transforming lives will be completed and the mission here on earth will end, and the church as the bride of Christ will rise to meet Jesus.”
Brown said that the church’s finest moment comes as it moves forward with courage in the might and strength of Almighty God. “Let us not allow our failures in the past or the unwarranted criticisms being levied at the church sidetrack us and cause us to lose our focus and dilute our message and thwart mission,” he said.