Mission Spotlight: Jamaica

10506625_695504427166197_7655106673917834582_oThe Crossing became involved in Harmons, Jamaica through MU students who went on short-term mission with Won By One to Jamaica. Now, every June, The Crossing sends High School students and their parents to serve in Harmons for a week and MU students continue to make the trek to work with Won By One during Winter and Spring Breaks. This video shows an overview of Won By One to Jamaica’s work. Keith Simon, teaching pastor at The Crossing, is on the Board of Directors of Won By One to Jamaica.

Won By One’s ministries include:

11407292_831182110265094_7327142756310292864_nHouse Construction & Repair:
Safe and affordable housing is a dire need in the Harmons Valley. Many families choose to live in unsafe conditions, temporary dwellings, or separated from each other. Using a construction method that allows Jamaican masons and American volunteers to work together, a 12′ x 15′ hurricane resistant concrete house is built in five days. Home recipients go through an application and vetting process before becoming eligible to receive a home. The new home-owners participate in gathering some of the material needed to begin the foundation as well as help throughout the construction process. At any one given time there are approximately 200 qualified families on the waiting list. Two to three homes are completed each week with nearly 50 homes completed each year.  There are also varies opportunities to repair decayed roofs and walls,  as well as construct house additions and outdoor toilets.

Grace Community Fellowship:10888762_832322873484351_3706582672619268832_n
Clinton O’Connor is a Jamaican pastor supported by The Crossing who, serves as a Community Pastor and Spiritual Adviser at Won By One to Jamaica. He also pastors a newly planted church in Harmons. Although there are a number of opportunities for residents to attend church in the Harmons Valley, the hope is that GCF will serve as a safe place for the community to explore the claims of Christ and the freedom to find their place in His story. The congregation is small but steadily growing with a wide range of individuals. It currently meets weekly as a congregation in Harmony House.

Life Groups:
Pastor O’Connor also helps guide small groups in the community who intentionally meet with the desire to do life together. Groups regularly meet to study Scripture and discuss how to live a life with Christ and build deeper relationships with each other.

Medical Clinic:
A walk-in clinic is maintained at the Harmony House with medical supplies and medicines to serve the immediate community residents in need of assistance. Emergency first aid is available and people may be referred to a local doctor or hospital if the need is outside the scope of the help available. At least once a year, a medical trip occurs where medical professionals come to serve in clinics inside and outside of Harmons. The clinic is available throughout the year for individual medical professionals who are serving with a group to help in their area of expertise (Dentistry, Optometry, General Practice, Education, etc).

11423401_831493496900622_1750766706890590654_nClarendon Infirmary Outreach:
Each Parish in Jamaica maintains a public facility that cares for those with physical & mental disabilities and have no one else to provide care. Due to both underfunding and the inherent challenges found in caring for the residents, the conditions of these facilities are quite harsh. Won By One To Jamaica has partnered with the Infirmary that serves the parish of Clarendon in MayPen. Needed supplies, equipment and are provided when available and each team spends time with the residents. A full-time nurse who concentrates on physical therapy and engaging in creative activities is employed by Won By One To Jamaica

Intentional Interaction:
11541054_832323006817671_2565122888785170643_nMuch of the ministry in Harmons occurs through building relationships with the people who live in the community. It may be through talking to someone on the work site or enjoying an evening in the courtyard with them. It may be a personal story told while being hosted for dinner in their homes or conversation while shooting hoops at the Harmony House after a long day of serving. Because these experiences are often organic in nature and more freely happen when an alternative agenda is not forcing the conversation, there are many opportunities or ‘free time’ to enjoy the Jamaicans naturally built into the weekly schedule.

Economic Development:

Despite having a healthy and highly motivated workforce, the Harmons Valley finds itself with an approximate unemployment rate of 75%. When jobs are available, they are often temporary, lower paying, and require costly transportation outside the community.  Although Won By One To Jamaica hires around 50 people each week, those positions only occur when there are team present within the community. Won By One To Jamaica is actively involved in creating full-time employment that both benefits the community as well as being self-sustaining.       

Blessings In Storestore_web

Harmons very own thrift store opened in the summer of 2011 and employs 4 Jamaicans through out the year. Store merchandise is provide by team members who bring donated items when they come for the week. These donations are sorted, prioritized, and then placed in the store, the community’s only place to gently used and sometimes new items.  The store is open year-round, run completely by Jamaicans, and offers affordable individually-priced items to the community.

greenhouse_webGreenhouses

Our four 60′ x 300′ greenhouses began operation in the spring of 2009 and are filled with thousands of pepper, tomato, lettuce, callaloo and other vegetable plants.  They produce hundreds of pounds of vegetables each week, which are sold to local brokers and when run efficiently turns a profit for the greenhouse, The greenhouses produce year-round are also run completely by Jamaicans.  They supply full time jobs for several Jamaican families.

History of Won By One to Jamaica:
Won By One To Jamaica was founded by 1989 by Henry Shaffer. A teacher and contractor at the time, Henry and eldest son, Josh, went to Jamaica to help with relief after Hurricane Gilbert devastated the island. One of the places the visited was the small, remote village of Harmons. With a desire to make an impact on a small community, Henry admits that God led him to Harmons.

Most recently, around 22 weeks of teams plan to serve in Harmons during a calendar year. That translates to over 850 volunteers coming to this small community and, among others things, almost 50 houses built. But from its earliest conception, the ministry is far more about developing relationships with the community, than about any physical structures being built.

We have learned that ministry — true, impacting and lasting ministry — is often messy. But it is miraculous how God uses people, baggage and all, whose lives are open to being changed and who are willing to be an agent of change in the lives of others. We have observed the disconnect that others often have with the people they are serving with which is usually a direct result of a lack of proximity. Our teams live, eat, work, sleep and worship right in the midst of the community we come to join. Team members spend nearly every waking minute with the community they have come to partner with.

Through everything Won By One To Jamaica does in our interactions with people we desire to let them know in words and in actions that they are loved, that they have worth and value as one who bears the image of God. We communicate to others that they too, are invited to join with God in His mission of restoring all the world unto Himself.

jamaicaMore about Jamaica:
Jamaica, a Caribbean island country, is home to nearly 3 million people. It is located on the third-largest island in the Greater Antilles, south of Cuba and west of Hispaniola (The Dominican Republic and Haiti.) Jamaica, like many Caribbean islands, has a mixed topography. It has crowded urban centers, beachside resorts and a mountainous interior. Tourism and agriculture remain Jamaica’s main economic engines along with mining, manufacturing and financial services.

Jamaica is famous for:

  • its musical innovation including reggae and ska
  • its sprinters and other athletes including Usain Bolt, world record holder, Olympian and World Champion.
  • its Rastafari cultural movement
  • its culinary contributions to Caribbean cuisine including:
    • jerk spice
    • Blue Mountain Coffee

Jamaican History:walk_web
Jamaica became an independent nation in 1962. It was originally the Spanish Colony of Santiago after being claimed for Spain by Christopher Columbus in 1494. From the 1510 to the 1660’s Jamaica was a refuge for Jews expelled from France, Spain and Portugal. In 1655, the British forcibly ejected the Spanish and claimed the Colony of Jamaica. During the colonial period escaped and freed slaves called Maroons formed independent communities in Jamaica’s mountainous interior. After Britain abolished the slave trade Indian and Chinese workers were imported to Jamaica as indentured servants. Their decedents continue to populate Jamaica’s urban centers.

Jamaican Demographics:
Ethnic Groups:

  • Black 92.1%
  • Mixed 6.1%
  • Asian 0.8%
  • Other 0.4%
  • Unspecified 0.7%

Religions:

  • Protestant Christian: 62%
  • Catholic Christian 2%
  • Jehova’s Witness 2%
  • Latter-day Saints 0.2%
  • Rastafari 1.1% (males:female 8:1)
  • Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists & Bahai <1% each

Sources:

wonbyonetojamaica.com
wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica
youtube.com: Won by One Video

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