It has been some time now Perry Rise and for that I do apologize. Serving in new capacities has been a little taxing at some points but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us and strengthening He has been doing indeed.
It has been almost eight months now I have been at the Burchell Memorial Baptist Church and what a time! I have had quite diverse experiences at the Church itself as it is 192 years old and still looking fresh just like the members. Due to its age and other factors the roof of the Church is temporarily down but we give God thanks that He poured it out in someone’s heart many years ago to build a multi -purpose education center so for a year now they have been worshipping from there. From the collapse of the roof also came the birth of a 7 a.m. service which has been an amazing help for those who have to work on a Sunday and just for those early birds, even I.
I have made quite a lot of new friends and new challenges as I have served. In observing Rev. Thomas from leading Bible study to even home visits I see a care for his members that I have grown to emulate as well. The aspect that I have thoroughly enjoyed the most was the home visits. It allowed me to see the mixture that is found in the Burchell Church and the terrain that we had to travel from the hills to the valleys we went and yes the journey was good as we were able to speak to and pray with people who were not yet saved from the various communities but the destination was the highlight for me.
In our Churches people are divided in different groups or classes usually based upon where you live so as to help in the logistics of organization and to assist in situations such as these, the class leader and or other members would accompany the pastor in the visits to the homebound members and the members of the class would visit them on their own as well. The members that we visited were the saints of God that were no longer able to come to the Church due to various reasons but still had a lot of love in their hearts. The visits themselves would focus on different aspects of worship but generally we would pray, sing some of their favorite songs, share testimonies and reminisce on their lives and the goodness of God through it all.
The aspect of the visit that really resonated with me and has now been engraved into my heart was the fact that you went there to encourage these homebound members but I left feeling more blessed than expected. It was strange at first because these people have never met me but the love that they have for others permeated the air and their lives. Even in their difficult situations they haven’t lost hope but share that hope which is found in Christ Jesus.
The church itself is a large Church with members ranging from 500-600 for just Burchell Memorial Baptist Church as there are three churches under Rev. Thomas’s leadership; in Jamaica we call them Circuits. We have the largest being Burchell Memorial Baptist Church, then Tower Hill Baptist and finally Spot Valley Baptist Church which in the Jamaica Baptist Union’s recent general assembly gained Church status. I have observed like most Churches each Church has its own culture and my job has been to adjust to each and serve where I am told.
One of my assignments so far from Rev. Thomas, keeping within the theme of the Jamaica Baptist Union “Living the Sacrificial Life” is to guide Bible study at Spot Valley, there newest church. It has been a learning experience from looking at the true meaning of some text to wrestling with theologians views on certain topics to even rediscovering the mode of Sacrifice for the ancient Hebrews.
For Spot Valley Baptist Bible study is held at a member’s residence which does provider a warm environment. For corporate worship we now meet in a school but plans are underway to build a Church in the area, the congregation know however that they are the Church but see the benefits of having their own Church building. Recently we celebrated Harvest at Spot Valley.
During Harvest we get produce gathered from various members’ contribution give God thanks for His blessings upon us in various ways of our lives and then inviting others to a Church service wherein we thank God but also allow our invited guest to purchase this wonderful bounty. The service was great as the young people were given the task to write, direct and produce a play depicting the birth of Jesus and since it was drama you know I had to be there as the plump King Herod and one of the wise men. It was given a youthful filed and besides from us loosing baby Jesus at one part of the production I believe it went well.
In the same period at the Burchell Church they were having their annual Cantata, which included narratives, melodious singing, and elegant dancing. This production takes 3 – 4 months of preparation and it was quite a sight from the areas I was able to observe. The costume changes took some time but I was able to see quite a lot of the program. There was a combined youth, adults and youth at heart choir singing up to 10 songs through the program. They had smaller groups which took part as well and dancing.
I believe as a pastor you should be able to serve in various capacities, God has given us different gifts and so we use them. I was able to be a part of the choir, rendered a solo, dance and narrated; it was a busy night but helped with my flexibility. It was the first time I was dancing officially since returning from England and we decided to push the boundaries and did two dances. In all ministries it takes a lot of preparation physically, mentally and spiritually.
After months of practicing we ministered in the various art forms and the hearts of the people were blessed but equally important God was glorified. Overall I am still observing the various ministries of the Church, learning and imparting from the people I get to interact with and a major part of the year of Church placement is reflection on the call of God. I continue to reflect on my call, of how I can be of use to God and extension the Church and how can I learn from the ministries of my home Church and Burchell Church to impact the Church that I will eventually be sent to.
I hope to update you soon on further developments. While you wait I am thankful for your care and prayers; here are some more things you could pray about.
- Peace and discernment as I continue to understand the call of God on my life
- Preparation for the second interview with the ministerial training committee of the Jamaica Baptist Union
- Continued integration into the Burchell Baptist Church
- Strength when I will have to leave the family at Burchell Baptist Church
- Even more strength when I have to leave my Calvary Baptist Church family hopefully for full-time further studies
- Guidance on this new stage of my journey