MONTEGO BAY, St James -The Western Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Churches has launched a massive mentorship programme with ambitions to steer 7,000 unattached youths in western Jamaica away from violent paths.
“I grew up as a boy where boys were afraid of grown men. Now I am an old man and I have discovered that old men are afraid of little boys,” explained the conceptualiser of the colossal mentorship programme, Pastor Glen Samuels.
“The mentorship of our young people is to instil in them with wholesome values, Godly attitudes, but more so to help them in practical context to handle conflicts, to learn to talk through simple challenges, to understand that it is not every violent act you see you must post on social media,” added Samuels, who heads the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church.
He disclosed that by the end of next month, coaches are to be selected and prepared from among the young in Adventist churches in the parishes of St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, and St Elizabeth to work in pairs to locate 7,000 of their at-risk contemporaries “on the corner” and counsel them.
“And so the youth leadership has accepted the challenge, between now and the end of March, to find 7,000 leaders in the Adventist Church; they will pair themselves up with another, so we have 14,000. And in the months of April, May and June, each of these pairs will find one youth on the corner, one unattached youth, one youth prone to antisocial behaviour, one youth drifting and falling in the cracks of life,” he explained.
“So they will be praying with each other between the months of April, May and June, and so together we will seek to mentor 7,000 unattached youths from western Jamaica, trying to pull them back from frustration despair and disaster.”
Pastor Samuels was addressing the launch of the mentorship programme for at-risk youth and the Adventist Professional and Leaders Convention and Expo at the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Churches conference centre in Mount Salem, St James.
The conference and expo will be staged at the Jamaica Conference Centre early next month.
And, in response to sceptics who charge that the Church is doing nothing to help to curtail crime in western Jamaica, the man of the cloth argued that the situation would be worse had it not been for the Church.
“If the Church was not involved in the lives of its community, the bloodshed would be more and the murders would be more. And there would be more people less educated. Thank God for the Christian Church in western Jamaica,” the pastor emphasised.
He pointed out, for instance, that his church has made the playfield available to youth in the Mount Salem community, as well as providing mentoring sessions with the footballers; assisted in the formation of the Granville Restorative Programme; increased the budget for education assistance, not only to members, but to all the youngsters around town; carrying out missionary work in tough inner-city communities in western Jamaica, among other services.
He told the gathering that irresponsible parents are the cause of “countless thousands of youngsters who drift into antisocial behaviour”.
“... too many parents in western Jamaica who need to be parented themselves. A number of our youngsters are having children and they cannot teach the sense of values that they were never taught. They can’t give the kind of grooming and training they were never given,” he remarked.
In the meantime, acting Custos of St James Claudette Bryan, who is also president of the St James Lay Magistrates’ Association, has described the mentorship programne as “the rolling out of good news”, while Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis described Pastor Samuels as “a beacon of hope in western Jamaica”.
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