Some of the guys in Majesty Gardens had asked us to support a food package outreach to the elderly in their community about 2 weeks ago, which we wanted to do, but had no funds to help make it happen.💰❌
Then, last week, a gang of 6-10 year old boys from Majesty (who are not engaged in online school) started stoning a work team who were installing a fence at the Grace Foods Canning factory next to their community. When the workers tried to talk to the boys, one of the boys threatened to cut their heads off with a machete!! 😳 The armed security guards on the compound went to try and talk to the boys … and they stoned the security guards too. Yes, 6-10 year olds!! 😞 The team went to the police because they could not continue working, but the police laughed at the security guards, saying that if they don’t know how to draw a gun they shouldn’t have one. 😢😤
I heard about this incident at a Bible Study later that evening, when the team leader whose team was prevented from working told us the story, asking for prayer. I said I’d go and talk to our team in Majesty to try and intervene in a more redemptive way. So we prayed about it. 🙏
When I got up the next morning I checked the account, and two decent donations had come in overnight, 🙌 so I could go and make legitimate plans with the team for the outreach, and also ask for their help in finding the boys who had been throwing stones.
That part wasn’t hard, they were well known! So we rounded them all up, and their parents, but several people from the community joined us as we walked around. Things started to get a bit heated, because people felt that the boys deserved some harsh punishment. By then we were gathered under a shack where they play dominoes, so I sensed it was a good moment to say something about the situation. Thankfully, I had just been doing some study for a course I am taking, which looked at the difference between justice (which the Scriptures consistently expect of people) and vengeance (which the Scriptures consistently expect people to leave in God’s hands). It seemed an important thing to explain, so I asked if I could say something, and they agreed to let me.
I held my hand at the top of a wooden post in the middle of the shack, and explained that justice is when everything is in its right place. I then said that when someone is wronged by someone, we move away from justice … like when you work for someone and they don’t pay you on time, which they could all relate to. As I said this I moved my hand down the post. I then asked what we feel like when something like that happens, and they replied that we feel like doing something wrong to that person who has wronged us. I was then able to explain that doing that is taking vengeance into our own hands … which always moves us further away from justice. As I said this I moved my hand further down the post. I made it clear that we didn’t want the boys to get beaten because we did not want vengeance, but justice, which is when we find a way to make the situation right again (moving my hand to the top of the post). They had listened intently as I had explained this, so I said that is all I wanted to say and asked if it made any sense. There were lots of nods, and one of the guys from the community called out loudly; “Yes man, a LOT of sense!”
That led to a conversation with the parents about getting the two ringleaders to come and help pack out food for the elderley, to do something more positive with their energy. 💪🏾 We also explained to all the boys and parents that it is not right for workers who are just trying to do their jobs to have stones thrown at them when they are at work. They promised that it wouldn’t happen again.
I called the leader of the team, who had been at the Bible Study, and explained that we had managed to talk to the boys, and there shouldn’t be any further incidents. Within half an hour the head of the Grace Canning factory called up and said thanks, and then followed up by donating 300 tins of baked beans to help with the outreach. 🙌
Two more donations came in before we went to get the supplies, so we were able to prepare a package for everyone on the list. Some of the Mums in Trench Town who had helped with the last set of packages offered to help with the packing out again.
So in the end, God’s people from uptown and downtown, Trench Town and Majesty, young and old, Jamaica and overseas, all got behind it and contributed in different ways. Even factory owners and factory stoners, church people and those from the corner got involved.
Jesus talked a lot about the Kingdom, and as I look back on last week, I wonder if a good way to see the Kingdom is to think of it as the social fabric of relationships between different people, that weave together with the relationship with God we have been invited into. When we accept that invitation, and He is in charge, He leads us in creative ways to partner with Him and one another; in setting a few things in the world right again.
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:14 & 15
I hope you enjoy this video of the outreach: