Thursday, January 12, 2012

Montego Bay homeless receive early Christmas gift

Some homeless and indigent persons in Montego Bay received an early Christmas treat courtesy of The Acts of the Holy Spirit Outreach Ministry assisted by Flow.  The initiative brought joy and social assistance to many dispossessed persons in the Montego Bay community.  The Acts of the Holy Spirit is a ministry led by Pastors Paul and Dorrette Blake whose work includes hosting weekly church services in Sam Sharpe Square, communing in music, prayer and providing words of inspiration and encouragement to persons living on the streets.

This treat was the first of a series of special outreach activities that Flow and its business arm Columbus Business Solutions is doing during the holiday season.  This year, in lieu of sending gifts to corporate partners, the firm is making donations on behalf of the corporate partners to organisations providing care for orphans and children with mental and physical disabilities. The beneficiaries of the initiative include Best Care Foundation, Jamaica National Children’s Home, Windsor Lodge home in Manchester and Mustard Seed - Widow's Mite in St. Ann. The initiative has received significant support from clients and employees who visit with the children and care givers at each location sharing stories, Christmas carols and giving kindly of their time.

For the activity in Montego Bay, a group of Flow employees from Montego Bay and Kingston joined the humble church congregation for their praise and worship session which included singing of popular gospel songs, prayer and sharing of the Word by Stephen Blake After the church service the Flow team served a special buffet Christmas lunch to the street people. The afternoon concluded with the Flow staff distributing packages of groceries and personal care items to their lunch guests.

Pastor Dorrette Blake expressed pleasure and gratitude at the support from Flow.  She explained, “The recipients feel that the wider society cares when they are feted like this. Usually they might get packaged meals for them to take away, however this dine-in spread provides an atmosphere of a family dining together. I don’t know how often they sit at a table and I am sure it’s a blessing for them. They are excited, Christmas is a time of giving and so we really appreciate it.”

The Acts of the Holy Spirit have been hosting a street church in Montego Bay since 2006.  The outreach programme also includes visits to the hospitals and weekly visits to the prisons in the Montego Bay area.  Pastor Blake sees her ministry as a rescue mission for dispossessed individuals. “We really go to those who are neglected, abandoned and rejected, hence the street church,” she said explaining the work of the ministry. “We have a regular church service after which we feed participants. We give them spiritual food and then natural food. We also, as much as we can, provide clothing and jobs,” she said.

Denise Williams, Director of Corporate and Government Affairs for Flow, believes the programme is a commendable stabilising initiative for the community. “The work of the Acts of the Holy Spirit Ministry is inspirational and exemplary.  Each member of our team was touched by the experience of this fellowship with the people of Montego Bay. We just want persons without the traditional family support to know that there is hope and many in the society who genuinely care for others,” she explained.

The Acts of the Holy Spirit Ministry provides an avenue for rehabilitation to persons who face extreme challenges in the Montego Bay community. Many have sought assistance with fighting their drug addiction and stabilising their lives after difficulties and hardships. Pastor Blake noted that, “A couple of our members were on drugs and were on the streets strung out crazy; one is now rehabilitated and works in the St Ann Rehab Centre giving back to those who were in the same position. Another gentleman was on the streets on drugs for 25 years and as a result of our ministry he is recovered. He is now gainfully employed and still attends street church. It is where he got his deliverance and he continues to come despite being a member of another church.”

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