“I had that joy just seeing the kids and it’s like … we need to make sure we don’t fail these kids.”

This was part of a message I received yesterday, from Shaboo, one of the team leaders in Jamaica. The team ran a youth programme at the Dream Centre on Thursday night, and a Kids Clubs today; the first programmes like this since before the pandemic began, and also since stepping into the leadership when Liz and moved to the UK. While regular programmes were disrupted, the team has kept contact with young people in the community through all the food package distributions, school assistance, the Community Festival at Easter, and many visits to their homes, but this week was when they made a start with the kind of regular programmes that have been such a feature of the ministry over the years. 

During the pandemic 120,000 children in Jamaica were disengaged from learning, and even since schools reopened in January 2022 there were still 27,000 missing from school up until the summer (as reported by the Ministry of Education). Within the community, we saw many children and youth struggling to access learning, struggling with all the unstructured time, we saw a rise in teenage pregnancy, and when we ran the Easter Festival, there were more difficult moments than usual because a lot of children were finding it much harder than before to manage their behaviour.

Another one of Shaboo’s messages was: “A young girl was there too, breast feeding her child. She’s 15 and is a mum now and you can see she loves her child, but she still wants to finish being a child … sigh.”

Having a safe a positive place to belong, grow and serve others is so important to these kids, which is why it is so important to support these guys as they get these regular programmes running again. We really need your prayers, and for any of you who want to stand with the new team financially as they take that faith step into full-time roles, please get in touch and I will send you a support letter.

We recently submitted a funding proposal to a local Jamaican charitable Foundation, (and heard that it was successful last week, so we are thankful for that big chunk of God’s provision for the team as they step out). Part of what we were asked to do for that proposal was to submit some numbers for what the ministry has achieved over the years. We have kept a busy schedule, and our focus has often been on what needs to be done next rather than on what has been done. It was encouraging to look back and recognise that at least 2,020 vulnerable children and youth have attended a year’s worth of weekly clubs, 3,870 attended Day Trips, and over 25,000 been engaged through the wider community events. Since we began the Restorative Play Times for children affected by trauma in 2017, we have facilitated 420 of these sessions. Alongside this, over 1,900 been involved in giving back to their communities through opportunities to volunteer. The team has built strong relationships with families in the community, and seen them impacted through experiences of God’s Kingdom. At the heart of it all, young people and members of the community have heard the gospel in the context of seeing peace and joy in their communities, among their friendship groups, and the streets they live in. 

This has led to over 1,000 commitments to Christ, and a meaningful long term impact on the lives of the children, their families and their communities. 

None of this would have been possible without the prayers and generosity of all the people in Jamaica and around the world who have supported this ministry. David and Liz’s goal in moving to the UK is to set up a stronger support network than we did while being so focussed on the work on the ground in Jamaica, so as Fusion Jamaica moves into a new chapter please keep praying and keep standing with the team … we need to make sure we don’t fail these kids.