A changed life.
A church attendance problem.
A video projector.
A VBS leader.
A vacation in Fort Lauderdale.
After visiting and attending multiple churches on Sunday in Jamaica, there was one constant – few if any males between age 12 and 70. The churches are dominated by females.
How could we reach the men of Jamaica? Where could you find men? They are usually hanging around bars, playing cards, playing dominoes and smoking ganga (local term for marijuana).
Should we try to get them to church or bring church to them? We chose the latter. In 2008, we purchased a video projector, an outdoor portable movie screen and decide to take Christian movies to the streets – specifically targeting bars and gambling establishments. Did it work?
Well, we noticed that if the “Jesus Film” was showing, people watched, they stopped gambling and they get quiet. Sometimes, we would have over 150 people stand outside and watch a movie. Many if not most were men. Did it work? That was a question we would ask ourselves many times.
Move forward to the summer of 2015. Amy Luther and her family travel to Jamaica on one of our mission trips. Amy, two of her children and a couple of other missioners conduct Vacation Bible Schools in 5 locations – four of them in very remote rural locations – like Old Pera, Barking Lodge, Airy Castle, and Johnson Mountain. These were hugely successful!
Now to November 2015. Amy, her husband, Mark and her parents go to Fort Lauderdale Florida for a vacation at a resort. Her story:
“All of the staff at the resort had name tags with their first name and where they were originally from. At check out, a young man had Jamaica on his name tag. His name was Desmond. I asked him where he was from. He said “eastern, Jamaica”. I said, “wow. I recently went there on a mission trip”. He said “great, but you would never know this place. It is in the middle of no-where”. He finally said the nearest community was called “Barking Lodge”. I told him I actually conducted a vacation bible school at a church in Barking Lodge. I then asked him how he got to the US? He said about 6 years ago he was near Port Morant and there was a group playing Christian movies in the streets. He got to talking to “an outspoken elderly white haired man” who told him he had options and choices he could make with his life. His mother was a prostitute and he was dealing in some drugs at the time. He said about a week later, he decided to travel to Kingston and stay with and uncle and get a job and try to go to school. He did and went to a hospitality school and two years ago came to the US to take this job. He is 20 years old. At the end of our conversation, he said he forgot to ask me what group I had traveled with to Jamaica. As I begin to say “Isaiah 6:8”, he says “that old man was with Isaiah 6:8”. He came around the counter and hugged me and said “thank you for going and thank God for that old white-haired man for sending me to Kingston”. He said that verse stuck in his head and is why he moved to Kingston.”
God demands that we sow the seed. He causes it to grow and the harvest is His, but it is nice to know that some seed bore fruit!
Update – last week, we spent two days while in Jamaica getting the street movies back into operation.
For over 18 years, we have been providing Christmas for the poor and forgotten in Southeastern Jamaica. This year is no different. This year, we are targeting 3 major groups and one small group:
1st group - Again, the indigent nursing home, known as The Infirmary will be our largest and most expensive group. There are 77 residents. Cost $25 each. These people get gift bags. A typical bag for women includes: house dresses, regular dresses, slippers, lotion, Vaseline, combs, perfume, soap dishes, snack cookies, wash cloths, and adult diapers. For men, it is similar but they get shorts, shirts, and underwear as their clothing items.
2nd group - The elderly and home bound sick - – Usually about 25 of these people. Cost $30 each. In the past, they got a box of food that contained: 2lb. rice, 2lb. flour, 2lb. sugar, 2lb. cornmeal, sardines, canned mackerel, powdered milk, noodles, tea, saltfish, 2 bags of crackers, vegetable oil, roll of toilet paper, bath soap, laundry detergent, matches, and salt. For many, this food will last over a month.
3rd group - Special Needs School – 60 students to be served. Cost - $10 each. They would get a coloring book, crayons, a small toy and served ice cream and cake. Most of these children are not only somewhat neglected by the government, but are also neglected at home. The presents they receive as a result of this giving will probably be the only one they get.
Lastly - Stokes Hall children – Hortense, the children minister and preschool teacher hosts 40 children. For $10 each, she has a Christmas party serving sandwiches, drinks, and ice cream. Each child receives coloring books, crayons, and a small toy. Stokes Hall is a very poor community. For most, this will be their only gift.
Please consider helping us with this project. You may donate via PayPal or send us a check.
Thank you for your Consideration!
We are beginning to make plans for 2016 Trips. So, if you are interested in traveling to Jamaica to help us, please read on, watch the News Blog on this website accessible here, and following our Twitter account and FaceBook page.
Here are our planned trips (all are tentative):
February 13-20, 2016 Mission to Jamaica
The plans - to be an organizational, planning, and development trip. We plan to visit all our ministry areas - to include Basic Schools (preschools), Churches, Special Needs School, the indigent nursing home, and a few families and special children we help.
Team members needed:
March 26 - April 2, 2016 Mission to Jamaica
This trip is very tentative at this time. This is the Spring Break week for most public schools in the Birmingham, AL area. This is the peak time for travel to Jamaica. The airlines are usually crowded, tickets are hard to obtain, they are more expensive and the hotel availability is a problem. We are working on this and will update when we can be assured of hotel availability.
July 9-16, 2016 Mission to Jamaica
Schools in Jamaica do not dismiss for the summer until the first few days of July. So, we cannot do Vacation Bible Schools easily until this all ends.
Please email us if you have specific questions!
Here am I, Send Me!
July 2015 Trip Highlights
The Isaiahsixeight team which traveled to southeastern Jamaica in July returned with many new friends and too many stories to recount. The group tackled various projects to include renovations to the basic school, bathrooms, and bus stop in Johnson Mountain to Vacation Bible Schools in Old Pera, Port Morant, and Barking Lodge. A total of five VBS sessions were conducted over the course of four days for over 200 Jamaican adults and children! The group was also able to visit the Infirmary in Port Morant and spend time with the residents there as well as attending the local church service for Pastor Courtney Spence in Rowlandsfield. We've included just a few photos to highlight what God accomplished through the team in 2015. You can view more photos on the new IS68 Facebook group page: www.facebook.com/IsaiahsixeightJamaica. Also see the new IS68 webpage: http://www.is68jamaica.org/
One of the residents of the Infirmary in Port Morant who greeted us with a smile and followed our group as we made rounds and met with many of the residents there.
A resident of the Infirmary in Port Morant, Nathan Frazier received a gift from IS68. He could be heard playing his new harmonica in the halls and singing during our visit there. Terry Fry, Mark Luther, Amy Luther, and Wes Savage are also pictured.
Mrs. Audrey hosted the team for dinner at her home one night during the week. Tamaula is pictured along with Thomas, Claire, Hannah, and Michael.
Vacation Bible School at Port Morant Methodist. With one of the biggest crowds, there were well over 50 children and adults in attendance. Many of them remembered one or more of the songs from last year! Hannah Luther is pictured with several children.
Just a couple of the unforgettable kids we met during VBS. They loved to color and participate during arts and crafts time! This photo was taken at Old Pera.
The work crew helped renovate the basic school in Johnson Mountain. With the help of several IS68 Jamaica friends, the project was completed ahead of schedule. Mark Luther and Alan Christian are pictured along with Jamaican friends, Keith Rhoden and Michael Brown.
This is the bus stop at Johnson Mountain during the reconstruction process. Alan Christian, Ewuan Brown, and Keith Rhoden are in the photo.
The team visited the community of Seaside one afternoon. These are a few of the children which attended the VBS in Port Morant along with Amy Luther, the VBS leader for the week.
We are excited to announce you can now 'Like' us on Facebook or 'Follow' us on Twitter!
Isaiahsixeight also has a new website. View it at: http://www.is68jamaica.org/.
Will you consider joining us in 2016? We ask you to prayerfully consider supporting IS68 with your prayers, taking a trip with a team in 2016, or a financial gift to help fund one of the many important ministries highlighted below:
- Feeding program at local basic schools
- Child sponsorship program providing food and clothing
- 2015 Christmas program serving 250+ children and elderly adults
-Supplies for needed renovations to local churches and schools
Please support us as you shop on Amazon. It is easy and costs you nothing, but greatly benefits Isaiahsixeight and it programs. Go here for more details: http://www.is68jamaica.org/amazon-smile.html
Contact Donnie Cantley for more info at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been praying a long time that God would send more and younger laborers to help us with this mission. This summer, Pastor Wes Savage, led a team down with us. Even before Wes got back home from the trip, he had already created us a FaceBook page. Soon thereafter, he created us a Twitter presence as well.
That motivated me to revamp our web page. God had revamped our mission over the years and I think it is much more meaningful and relational; however, with that comes a continual drain of our resources unlike our prior pattern of periodic projects.
Amy Luther also went on that trip and was amazing in her organization and how she was not only prepared for the intense week she was there, but left the different communities with resources so they could do their on VBS's in the future. Also, Wes again came through in making a connection with Amy to help us with our Christmas giving campaign.
My prayers now are for child education leaders to travel with us to assess the needs in the Basic Schools, the churches, and the Special Needs School and help us address those needs.
Please pray that we follow God's path for this mission!
How Many People can Ruffy Get in his 11 passenger Van?
Devin Brown, known locally as Ruffy, has been our taxi driver for approximately 7 years. Before that, we rented a bus with driver or we rented a van or car and drove ourselves (never again!). Not only is renting a taxi driver and his vehicle for a day cheaper than a car rental, it is safer and you get his brother and helper as escorts. These guys are sad when we leave and can’t wait until we come back. They love to be with us.
Many times, they will say – “you guys are different from the other Christians here. You guys help people.” They get into the helping spirit as well – many times working alongside of us with no expectations of pay. Other times, we will hire them. Always, they get to hang out with us, eat some of the food we eat (they love my sandwiches and red-neck caviar). They go to church with us, go to show Christian movies with us, are frequently put “on the spot” at churches and asked to speak. Frequently, we tailor our devotions and church talks for their ears.
They are a major part of our mission field. We have seen them change for the better over the years, but their “culture” and as Paul would say – their “world” or “flesh” is deeply embedded. Other than us, there are extremely few examples of Christian men for them.
So, now that you know something of these guys, what about the capacity of their vans?
We are always amazed at how many students are crammed into the taxis, vans, cars, and buses going to and from school. Ruffy has told us before that he could get as many as 30 in his van, but the police were cracking down on that.
So, we decided to do a Vacation Bible School in a community called Wheelerfield – where we built a church about 3 years ago. The church is a church plant from another church we are associated with and has also spawned a preacher who is now leading yet another church (more about him later). Well, Wheelerfield is a small rural village with few people, but it has a large field, two adjacent structures we can use and is central to 3 other communities where we work. So, we decided this was the place for a large Vacation Bible School and we would bus the children in from the other 3 communities.
So, we contracted with Ruffy, another van, and still a smaller 3rd van to go pick up teachers, adults, and children for the VBS. Well, it was very chaotic, but we had over 200 children in VBS, over 50 adults in an adult Bible study we had not planned, and about another 25 adults helping shepherd children as well as our team of 14.
Were we worried about the police? Well, I had hired the local police chief to provide security for us, because this was a nighttime VBS. So, no one was monitoring the capacity of the vans.
How many? Fifty (50) – in each of two eleven (11) passenger vans. The 7 passenger van could only manage 39 people. And they came back and they loved every minute of VBS.
In 2014, we have lost two of our most dedicated pioneers in this mission to Jamaica - Jack Mullins and Tom Hunt. We humans tend to give ourselves more credit for our works and ideas than we should. Ecclesiastes 1:9 “… there is nothing new under the sun”. Our omniscient God not only knew the idea, He gave it us and probably had given it to others before us as well. For this reason, only He should get the Glory.
However, we as humans, despite our failings, do have those in our lives who inspire, lead, and set great examples. Jack and Tom were two such men.
Jack led me on my first mission trip to Jamaica. Tom, while not a leader, was on that trip as well. That would be Jack's last trip (winter of 1996), but he constantly encouraged us who continued to travel there. Tom would lead another church group down, then accompany us on several other trips to Jamaica. Tom continued wanting to go beyond the time his health would permit.
What kind of legacies did these guys leave? Well, I don't think they were thinking in those terms, but their passing caused me to look back and see where that trip Jack led has taken this mission. I can only tell the story as I know it. I, Donnie Cantley, will recount what I remember:
Jack and Tom will be missed, but their legacy is passed on to us. Read the 3rd verse of the hymn "Faith of Our Fathers" by Frederick William Faber written in 1849. Its message still rings true for us!
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God
Mankind shall then indeed be free.
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!
No Child Left Behind
Approximately 18 months ago, I was contacted by Ms. Nunes, the Head Teacher at the Special Needs School. After asking about her students, she told me how poorly they had performed on their year-end testing compared to previous year. Then I asked if she had an explanation – the answer – “you can’t learn on an empty stomach”. Many of the children were coming to school hungry or not coming at all since they had no money for lunch or transportation. Also, many Jamaicans do not go to school on Friday. If you have insufficient money for the week, who wouldn’t pick Friday to be the day to stay away?
So, this is how and why we started a feeding program at the Special Needs School. We purchased a gas stove, some pots, pans, bowls, table wear, utensils, food, and helped hire a cook. So, on two mornings a week, 75 students get a Hot, very nourishing breakfast.
At first, we started the breakfast on Tuesdays and Thursday, but Ms. Nunes made a wise decision to move it to Monday and Friday. Monday to get the kids there on the first day of the week and Friday to make sure they come to school on Friday.
Results – much better attendance, teaching was easier and they did much better on their testing. The feeding program continues. Maybe
this is why Jesus fed the multitudes.
Special Child, Special Blessings
I have written much about Mushie and her mom, Michelle. I also try to take every mission team to meet them and hear their story. Usually, there are tears shed – by Michelle, by team members, and by me. Michelle, because she knows how God loves her and how blessed she is as well and how God has used us to bless her. We feel blessed just by hearing her express her love for Mushie, seeing how thankful and full of hope she is living in what to many of us is an impossible situation.
You see, Mushie was born with hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) and as a result, has severe cerebral palsy. The diagnosis was made before she was born. The father insisted on an abortion, but Michelle refused. The father abandoned them. Then Michelle’s parents disowned her because she would not put Mushie in a facility for the severely handicapped.
When we first met them, they were living in a very small one room of a shack. No screens, no mosquito net, no fan, and only one light bulb. Mushie was malnourished, had floppy legs and arms, she could not chew (her mom chewed her food), and she cried when mosquitoes would bite her. To make things worse, they were about to be evicted and had no place to go. Immediately, we obtained mosquito nets, vitamins, a blender, eggs, and other items for them. Less than a week later, I returned with a fan, a better blender, more vitamins, and protein powder. We set up a system to also help get eggs and peanut butter to them. Lastly, we purchased a baby bed for Mushie so she would no longer roll out of bed.
By a miracle, God provided us with a ready-made foundation two lots down from where they lived and we built them a house (story told in last Newsletter).
In early 2014, Mushie had some severe seizures and was placed in the hospital for a few days. She could not leave until we sent money for medications. Then, we had a team there in June. Michelle had a garden, chickens, and eggs. She blended the fruits and vegetables to feed Mushie, but she could not preserve them. So, our team went to the local small town and purchased them a refrigerator. In July, another team was there visiting and in the interim, Mushie had been sick and was prescribe an antibiotic that had to be refrigerated. Now, they had a refrigerator! Michelle made everyone from the team come into her tiny house and see what was in the refrigerator. She had eggs, carrots, greens, juice, fruit, tomatoes, and onions – all the things that were spoiling on her before. She was so proud and grateful!
They have been doing well, until the Chikungunya virus struck (see separate article). Both of them got sick – high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, etc. Mushie had it very bad and would cry every time she moved her muscles or joints. I received a call, because she was getting dehydrated and her mom had no money to buy juice. Again, we sent a small amount of money to her. She bought juice and Pampers.
Speaking of money, they have very little. Because of Mushie’s condition, the government does give them some money. It works out to about $15 US every other month. So, they survive on less than $0.50 per day – yet, they feel blessed and inspire every one of our team members who meet them.
Please pray for Michelle and Mushie and pray that we too can be as thankful for our blessings.
Chikungunya (Chik V.)is a mosquito borne viral disease. The word is a tribal African word that means "to bind up". That is probably due to the fact that some of the patients get muscle pain and arthritis. The Chikungunya virus has caused disease in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Africa, France, Italy, and the US. It made a big appearance in St. Martens, the Caribbean Island in November of 2013. I took notice of it then because there was evidence it would spread through the Caribbean.
When we went to Jamaica with a small team in March of this year, it was still in the southern Caribbean. In early June and then early July, I was watching it much more closely and it was infecting a lot of people in Puerto Rico and was starting to infect the population in the Dominican Republic. Reports are that approximately 500,000 people in the Dominican Republic were infected. Luckily for our teams, but unluckily for the Jamaicans, the virus did not start affecting Jamaica until August. That coincided with the rainy season, more mosquitoes, and the start of school. In September and October, it was ravaging Eastern Jamaica, where we do our work. Reports are that at least 50% of the people in that area got the virus and absenteeism in schools was greater than 50%.
As people recovered and developed immunity, there was less transmission of the disease in our area; however, the disease apparently has not peaked yet in other parts of Jamaica. This infection caused us to cancel a small trip in October this year.
Please pray for Pastor Campbell in Stokes Hall. His Chik V infection left him almost debilitated with arthritic pain. He is a very active farmer in his 80’s. As with most pastors in Jamaica, their pastoring duty will have its reward in the next life, but little in this one. Most get no income from their churches and must have another job to sustain their families.
Please note - we will closely track the disease on the island. Most of our mission teams travel in the dry season and there are fewer mosquitoes. So, acquiring mosquito borne viral illness would be less likely. Hopefully, by the time we approach Spring, the disease will have run its course on the island. For now, we are waiting and considering a trip with two of us soon. In the meantime, we will monitor the disease.
Seminary in a Cane Field
Courtney is a rarity in Jamaica. He is a really neat guy about 30 years old. He had little formal education, but is very intelligent and creative. He even built a motorbike from old parts, plastic bottles, a plastic chair, and even used Vise-Grips as a kick starter lever. The things unique about him? Well, he is married, he goes to church, and he is called to preach.
We first met Courtney when we decided to build a church building for a new plant church in the middle of a cane field community called Wheelerfield. Courtney, his wife, and his two children came to help us with the construction. When we went back to visit the church, he would occasionally speak at the church. He wanted to be an evangelist. On several occasions, we would go out with him to show some Christian movies and then he would preach. Later, after the death of a minister at a church in a neighboring community, he was called to come preach at that church. Since then, that church denomination has ordained him.
Courtney told me that in 2007, he was in a serious accident. In the hospital, he was in a lot of pain and was about to lose the leg. He prayed to God and accepted Christ. He then taught himself to read by reading the Bible. He was so on fire for God, that he started evangelizing in the hospital. He is a great example of what God can do and an example to Jamaican men.
Immediately, the question came to us – how can we work with Courtney to help grow the Kingdom? Get him a better Bible, some study aids, help get our movie system into his hands, help him and his family financially so he can do more Kingdom work?
Well, I had heard of this program from Birmingham Theological Seminary (BTS) in conjunction with Third Millennium Ministries whereby one can gain a free Certificate in Christian Ministry online. All the video lectures and readings are all online and free. But, Courtney does not have Internet service. We took an iPhone 5 with data plan to his home – no signal. We took a cellular broadband modem that works great in Jamaica, but his remote area has no service. So, what to do?
After meeting with the President of BTS, he gave us the entire course of study on a USB thumb drive. Courtney has no computer or device to accept it. So, on our next trip, we are taking him a used iPad 3, a cordless WiFi router with USB port, and all the seminary data on the USB thumb drive.
So, Courtney will be able to undertake some seminary training in the cane field where he lives. Our main concerns are his ability to read (which is not great) and his time to study.
So, please be in prayer about Courtney, his spiritual growth, and how we can help him become even more effective spreading the Gospel.
The Least of These - by Mitchell Morris
All Across the Western World
sung by Caedmon’s Call
All across the western world
second hand, second skin
the rain comes through where the roof is thin
all across the western world
All across the ocean wide
with brothers, neighbors at our door
our banks are full but our souls are poor
all across the western world
So melt your wings like wax to fire
let yourself fall out of time
from ashes we rise
The broken down are on the mend
blessed are those who have no voice
you’re only free when you have no choice
all across the western world
All across the open sky
in my career of broken wings
redemptive ends from tragic means
all across the western world
The song above is one of my favorites. I usually listen to it on the flights to and from Jamaica and have also used it in at least one of our Isaiahsixeight videos. Probably for most Caedmon’s Call fans, it is just another song telling the woes of the world’s poor – second hand stuff, second class skin, broken houses, and broken lives. For me, it is the song of Mr. Lynch.
During many of our trips to Jamaica, we heard of Mr. Lynch. He was a frequent visitor to one of the soup kitchens we support, and people told of how hard working he was, how everyone loved him, and how he would donate charcoal to the soup kitchen. So we decided to pay him a visit. Words cannot adequately describe and pictures cannot fully capture what we found. Mr. Lynch had been employed by the Firestone Tire Factory until its closing in the early 90s, and was then hit by a car while on a motorcycle and left unable to work a regular job. Since that time, Mr. Lynch has scraped out a living by painting signs for businesses and “burning coal,” which is making charcoal to sell. You can see him displaying his sign work and bags of charcoal in the first photo above. You can also see that his house was beyond repair. His bed was a log (lower right photo above), the little gray pad his cushion, and the newspapers his covers. To make matters more urgent, he was squatting on the land and had been ordered off. It is rare that Isaiahsixeight will help a man with housing. Most of them are able to eke out a living and many have abandoned the women who bore their children. We try to focus our efforts on helping the helpless, so therefore end up offering most of our assistance to women with children. But Mr. Lynch was going to be an exception to our rule.
We promised Mr. Lynch that we would help him build a little house during one of our future trips if he could find land. Then Hurricane Sandy hit, leaving his house falling and most of the roof gone. Having nowhere else to go, Mr. Lynch propped his house up with a stick, threw on a tarp, and continued living in his home (see photo above). Mr. Lynch was still holding out hope that a parcel of land would come available when we returned to Jamaica in January of this year to build a home for Michelle and Mushie. Mr. Lynch joined us in our labor, and in June, God decided it was his turn. He obtained permission to build on some land of his relatives, we set some poles in the ground, and the following month a youth group from Riverchase United Methodist came and built him a house. In addition to his new home, he got a bed frame, a full-size mattress, and family member neighbors who now help feed him.
Still, Mr. Lynch wants to work. His friends and his charcoal business are about 6 miles away near his old home. He has a bad knee and no transportation, which means that he was forced to walk…at least until a few weeks ago. This October we were able to purchase a new 10 speed bicycle for Mr. Lynch. And he says that he has been reading the Bible that we gave him, because he can see how God has blessed his life!
Special Needs School
Sometime later, we got to see Tyeisha, a special needs child who lives near our mission house, get transferred into the unit. The last time we saw Tyeisha, she could not stop hugging us, and we are told that she still looks for us and asks for us almost daily.
The young girl in the lower right hand corner of the photo above is another thread in the tapestry. We do not know her, but God does. Her mother refused to send her to a Special Education School at first, but then she was expelled from her regular education primary school. Her mother went to the Special Education School to see if there was a possibility of her enrolling her daughter there, but the principal said that there was no room. Audrey, our Jamaican associate, called the principal, who then discussed it with another principal. They recalled that Audrey worked with Isaiahsixeight, and because of what we had done for the school, they decided to accept this child into the Special needs Unit. But for that, this child would not be in school!
Other threads? Well, there is Michelle’s daughter Sosheba “Mushie”, who was highlighted in another story. She has made great strides since God first put her in our path, but we can only hope that one day she will be capable of entering the Special Needs Unit. And most recently, there is little Keysha, the 3-year old with cerebral palsy. What could be more difficult than having a child with special needs? Having a child with special needs in a third world country. Truly these are the least of “the least of these.” Please pray for them and for us as we try to minister to them.
Vacation Bible School
Donnie Cantley. By the Grace of God, I have been allowed to lead this mission since 1996.