Jamaica Magazine

Mission of Mercy by American Retiree in Jamaica

Written by John Casey

It has been 2 1/2 years since I made the big move to Jamaica. Many
things have happened to me in that time, both good and bad. Some of which I have
written about and some I haven’t. There is one story I have to share with you now
because it has changed my life.

Religion had played a major part in my life until about 15 years ago. Then the
greed of the world took over. Nearly every store was now open on Sundays. It didn’t
take long for Sunday to be the biggest shopping day of the week. At that time in my
life I was working in retail sales and then with a major newspaper. Church was no
longer a part of my life. Now that I am retired there is ample time for church.

Finding a church that compared to those I was once a member of wasn’t easy. New
England has a reputation of being strait laced or reserved when it comes to religion.
Watching church services on Jamaican TV was far from reserved. The people sang,
danced, waved their arms in the air unlike any church I ever knew. I wanted to be back in church but those TV services scared me. The color of my skin would make me stand out like a sore thumb. I was afraid everyone would stare at me and make me feel
self-conscious.

About six months ago, Brian moved into an apartment across the street. We would say
hello to each other and engage in small talk as neighbors do. One day, I invited
him into my house to welcome him into the neighborhood. The conversation went the
usual way; work, family and church. After a couple of weeks thinking about his church, my wife and I decided to give it a try.

What a surprise we got when we found out nearly 25% of the congregation was white!
Then we noticed the Pastor was a white woman and so was the assistant! We later
found out she was 100% Jamaican. From that first Sunday, we both knew this was the
church for us.

Jamaica is not the richest country in the world, but they do try to help each other
out wherever possible. This church, Trumpet Call Ministries International(TCMI), is
no exception. They have an outreach ministry to underprivileged school children in
several inner city communities. The church also provides groceries to the most
needy.

The children’s lunch program was started by Neena Chandiramani, a business woman and
member of the church. She started this program in memory of her late mother, Bhabi.
It was originally feeding 100 of the neediest children, but in the last few weeks
has grown to 300 children.

Each lunch consists of a drink(box drink or milk), fruit(orange or banana), package
of cookies and a meat product. We are currently using beef patties, chicken hot
dogs and tuna fish sandwiches on a rotating basis. Corned beef will be the fourth meat product for our 4 week menu cycle. The cost for each lunch ranges from US$0.62 to US$0.81 per child. All the food is prepared at the church and transferred to the
schools twice a week. Everyone from the youngest students to the principals eagerly
look forward to the generosity extended by Neena and TCMI.

One Sunday, the church asked for volunteers to help with these two programs. My
wife and I decided to volunteer. It was fun working with other church members
preparing all the food, but the blessing came from distributing it. The first stop was Flankers Primary and Junior High. As we brought the lunches in, we were met by the principal, several teachers and staff members. They were so grateful that someone cared about their students. Our being there meant a small percentage of those in need
would have a good, wholesome lunch.

Our next stop was to the inner city community of Canterbury. This is one of the
most compressed and depressed areas on the island. It consists of 3000 plus people
living on 3 acres of “captured land.” Every square foot of useable land is occupied.
The community is built on 2 facing, steep, slopes with a gully at the bottom. The
only way in or out is over a foot bridge. There are no roads there, just stone foot
paths lined with old pieces of zinc panels. The center consists of a small shop
that sells the bare essentials, a post office and a community center.

In my 60 plus years, I have traveled to many parts of the world, but never have I
seen more of a need than in Canterbury. This is an area that tourists never see, nor
do most of the people living in middle and upper class neighborhoods of Montego Bay.

The food given to these families comes in part from TCMI and Food For The Poor.
Each week volunteers gather at the church to break down 100 lb bags of food into 1 lb
bags. This food consists of rice, kidney beans, flour, milk and many other essential
foods.

That one day put a burden in our hearts for the hungry kids and families in Montego
Bay. Since that time, my wife and I have become directors of Mission of Mercy for
TCMI. We have seen a growth in both programs but limited financial funds have kept
us from reaching more of those in dire need. If this story has touched your heart,
please help us fill these needs. Every penny goes to feed the children and provide
food for the poor. All workers, including my wife and I, are unpaid volunteers with
a burden for those less fortunate.

All contributions can be sent to:
Trumpet Call Ministries International
PO Box 34 Fairview Shopping Plaza
Bogue Montego Bay
Jamaica WI
Please mention jamaicans.com with your donation and specify which program you wish
to support. Thank you and God bless you!

About the author

John Casey