The question naturally arises, now that contact has been established between our Protestant Reformed Churches and the people in Jamaica, what can be done for them in the future?
Obviously, this question has many implications, both as far as we are concerned and as far as they are concerned. Our churches are small. We already have a home missionary in the field, and, we would not want any other mission endeavor to interfere with his work. We also have a number of radio stations broadcasting the Reformed Witness Hour. This witness we must continue as long as the rising Opposition does not prevent us and as long as the rising cost does not make it prohibitive. Radio work is expensive, and we must stay within our limitations. On the other hand, these churches are outside of our own country, separated from us by a body of water. They are a different race and have a different religious background. Moreover, they have no trained ministry. Do not these barriers prevent us from working among them?
In answer to that, I would state that we can well carry on our present mission program at home and still come to the aid of these people whom God has brought to our attention. We can do the one and not neglect the other. I believe that we can continue to heed this Macedonian call without a great outlay of money. Moreover, the fact that they are somewhat far removed from us should not and need not prevent us from doing what we can for them within our limited means. And the fact that they have not been inculcated with all kinds of error may well prove to be an advantage instead of a disadvantage, as long as they are eager to be instructed by us.
Let me point out briefly what has been done during the past half year and also what could be done in the future.
Rev. J.E. Frame sent us a list of the churches that are associated with him, including a list of the children between the ages of five and fifteen in each congregation. I will include them here for your information:
First Hill, Lucea, has fifty children.
Whithom, Westmoreland, has fifty children.
Fort Williams, Westmoreland, has thirty children.
Friendship, Westmoreland, has thirty-five children.
Mount Salem, Montego Bay, has not reported the number of children.
Rev. Elliott also sent a list of the churches that are associated with him, as follows:
Islington, St. Mary, has fifty-five children.
Red Berry, Manchester, has fifteen children.
Blehnont, Bluefields, has seventy-seven children.
Hope Hill, White Horse, has eighty-seven children.
Buff Bay, where Rev. H. Moore is pastor, gave no total of children.
Johnston Town, Lucea, has seventeen children.
Bum Savanna, Blackness, where Rev. G. Wiggan is pastor, has forty children.
To the ministers of these churches and to some of the elders the Standard Bearer is being sent. To each of the ministers a copy of the Church Order and of the 1963 Acts of Synod has been given. Most of these churches receive the Sunday School Guide and have also received our catechism books. The younger children have the “Bible Stories,” Book 1, and the older children have the “Old Testament for Juniors” with the accompanying work books. From the reports received we can conclude that this material is also being used. Even some of the older people are industriously applying themselves to the work books along with the children. Besides, many used Psalters have been sent to the island, and many more can be used there. If any of our churches have a supply of used Psalters on hand which are still in fairly good condition, the people of Jamaica will appreciate receiving them. It may be well to add that you can send these Psalters in small packages by parcel post? as long as the total weight does not exceed eleven pounds. The postage on the books is reasonable, and therefore the contents should be specified on the package.
During the recent visit of Mr. Meulenberg and Rev. Hanko to our churches, telling them about the work in Jamaica, an offering of about four hundred dollars was received for these churches. We are sorry that we could not visit all of our churches, but we still hope to contact those we did not reach. The money that was collected was designated for the construction and improvement of the tabernacles of the various congregations. Therefore this gift will be equally divided between the two groups, so that Rev. Frame and Rev. Elliott may share this with their various churches according to the need of each congregation. The mission committee is indeed grateful for this splendid offering, as also the Jamaican churches will be.
Those who went to the island last summer were also mandated to inquire whether there were any young men who would desire to study at our seminary if the way were opened to them. Before we arrived the word had already reached them that this inquiry would be made. As a result, there were five men who requested admittance into our seminary.
Rev. J.E. Frame was one of them. He is a man in his early forties and has a wife and two children. His son is nineteen years of age and works out. His daughter is seventeen and is at home. In case he should be accepted as a special student in our seminary, his wife and daughter would accompany him; and since they are both able to work, the expense would not be exorbitant. Rev. Frame is very eager to be instructed in our churches, and, therefore he approached the people at the conference that was held by the churches last August, suggesting to them that he would like to spend about a year in the States. Although it was evident that they were not eager to have him leave them for a whole year, and some even asked whether a shorter absence could not serve just as well, they did give their consent as one man because they realized how much this meant to Rev. Frame.
Jonathan Elliott also urged us to present his name. He is a young man and single, but realizes that his biggest drawback is his lack of education. He expresses a strong desire to learn for the ministry, and would even like to have a complete training, even though he realizes that this would involve years of preparation.
Egbert. Mullins has applied. He is thirty-seven years of age and has a wife and three small children. He is so eager to come to the seminary that he expressed his willingness to leave his family in Jamaica while he attends school here.
William Brown was strongly recommended by the group at Friendship Hill. He is a young man of twenty-one years of age, whom we did not meet personally, but who has expressed his desire to prepare for the ministry.
And Elder Philip Wright, a man of middle age, who has served as elder in the church of Belmont for some time, also made his application. He seems to be very sincere and also quite capable, as well as being very eager to receive an education in our Seminary.
Whether any of these men can or will be accepted is a matter that most likely will come up at our next Synod. If the expense is not too great, we could certainly exert a great influence upon the people of Jamaica by training one of their men right in our own school. It should be understood that this person would have to enter as a special student for special training, even though there would be no reason why he could not sit in on the regular classes in the Seminary.
The channel of radio broadcasting has also been explored. As was mentioned in a previous article, the Jamaica Broadcasting Station at Kingston offered us a suitable time on Sunday morning, but their price was too high for the benefits that might be derived from the broadcast, since their listening audience is limited mainly to the island. Just recently .the Mission Committee has requested time and rates from the new Trans-world radio station that is to start operations on March 1 from Bounaire, an island of the West Indies just south of Jamaica. This is the same Trans-world Radio that is airing our program in England every Sunday. This new station will have a standard broadcast transmitter of 525,000 watts on a frequency of 800 kc. We have been offered time on Standard Wave from 6:30 to 7 a.m. on Sunday, with a rebroadcast on a 50,000 watt signal at 2 p.m. This broadcast would reach south into the whole northern section of South America and north beyond Jamaica into the United States as far as the northern part of Texas and into Tennessee. But again the price is prohibitive, since this would cost us $180.00 per Sunday.
Nevertheless, there does seem to be a solution to our present difficulty. I think I am not talking out of school when I tell you that the radio committee of First Church has received an offer from one of the members of the church to supply Jamaica with a transistor recorder. Both Rev. Frame and Rev. Elliott could make good use of such a transistor recorder in their vacant churches. Imagine what that will mean to them to hear our radio messages and our sermons on a transistor recorder right in their own tabernacles! I would like to see their faces’ when they receive this recorder and are able to listen to it. I sincerely hope that in time there may be two transistor recorders operating on the island every Sunday. For a minimum of expense our tapes can be sent to the island and then returned to us again. The churches there will appreciate this service so much that I am sure they also will share the expenses involved.
Although I am somewhat reluctant to mention this, it is nevertheless a fact that what the people in Jamaica sorely need is the presence of one of our own men on the island for a year or more to help them to understand our doctrine and to aid them in their various problems. With so many vacant churches at home we cannot even begin to think of sending one of our present ministers to Jamaica. And yet there might be another solution to the problem. More than once it has been suggested that a man with special gifts, who has served as elder in our churches, could be of great help to these people in instructing them in the fundamentals of our doctrine and practices. It is conceivable that the Lord might call a man and that he might be ordained by our churches for that special work. It is worth considering. If such a person would devote his time and efforts toward training the ministers and elders and Sunday School teachers, they, in turn, could pass this instruction on to others.
And there is always the channel of clothing. During the past few years Rev. Frame’s churches have received much of the clothing that was sent. The churches of Rev. Elliott have as yet received no clothing from us. They also are greatly in need of summer clothing, such as shoes, hats, shirts, trousers, and dresses, both for children and for adults. If the children are properly clothed, they can attend school at an early age to obtain the education that they need so sorely to study their Sunday School papers and catechism lessons.
Finally, the question is asked whether the churches in Jamaica have any long range plans for future contact with us. To this it may be answered that both Rev. Frame and Rev. Elliott are now engaged in reorganizing their churches on a proper Reformed basis. When this is accomplished, they hope to obtain government recognition as ministers of the Word with the right to perform marriages and issue baptism certificates. Moreover, at some future date Rev. Frame and Rev. Elliott hope to seek closer contact with each other. They have hopes that sometime in the future they can also organize their churches into Classes. The one group would be Classis East and the other Classis West. And then the next step would be to organize a Synod of the churches of Jamaica. Although this may take considerable time, they have in mind to request us to send delegates to their Synod, and they would then also appreciate an invitation to attend our annual Synod. Possibly, if the Lord tarries, they might some day seek to become sister churches of our denomination. But they also realize that this is a long range program. For the present they are busily occupied in becoming acquainted with our doctrines and practices. And they know, as we do, that the present and the future are in the hands of our God, Who alone can and does provide for His Church.