A Lifestyle that Seeks the Kingdom of God

Dear Friends of Kenilworth Union Church,

Jamaica! My mind’s eye sees a tropical paradise: beaches, resorts, reggae music, jerk chicken, and blue mountain coffee. Since I have been around for a while, it also sees our dear Jamaican brothers who were once part of the Kenilworth Union Staff staff: Rudy, Elijah, Roy, Sydney, and Dwight.

Until last week, those were my thoughts on Jamaica. Sure, I knew a little Caribbean history, but I hardly knew the real Jamaica. God opened my eyes and mind when I spent two days in and near Kingston last week preparing for the June IMPACT mission trip when over 80 of us who have said “here I am Lord” will go.

The Jamaica I discovered is expressed perfectly in the words of its national anthem, “Jamaica, Land We Love”:

Eternal Father bless our land
Guard us with Thy mighty hand
Keep us free from evil powers
Be our light through countless hours
To our leaders, Great Defender,
Grant true wisdom from above
Justice, truth be ours forever
Jamaica, land we love
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.
Teach us true respect for all
Stir response to duty’s call
Strengthen us the weak to cherish
Give us vision lest we perish
Knowledge send us, Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above
Justice, truth be ours forever
Jamaica, land we love
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.

Jamaica is a nation that God has made and whose people God has blessed—with hospitality, with joy, with strength, with integrity, with humility, and with faith.

I met with pastors, with school principals and counselors, with church members and locals, and I learned that the Jamaican identity is essential to Jamaicans, that Usain Bolt is a national hero who has inspired a generation of young sprinters, and that helping their neighbor is fundamental to a Jamaican’s Christian faith, regardless of their own resources available to do so.

One pastor is called to offer a meal of soup to the poor who live close to his church. A high school principal is called to keep students safe from drugs and prostitution. Another pastor is called to build a home for a mentally ill homeless man. A group of women are called to guide local children away from gangs and toward a more holy, healthy, productive, and joyful life. A frail nursing home director is called to maintain a safe and comfortable home for indigent elderly residents. A young musician is called to focus his marketable talent on sharing the gospel ….

Each time I met another Jamaican, I saw more clearly a people whose faith is not a practice meant for Sunday mornings, but a lifestyle that seeks the kingdom of God in every part of life—relationships, community, vocation….

I am humbled to offer our team’s resources, time, and energy to support the callings of our under-resourced neighbors and cannot wait to tell you how God’s story unfolds in our lives and in the lives of the Jamaicans we serve in June.

Grace and Peace,