By Carl Stagner
In April 2014, Jim Lyon joined the Church of God in Jamaica to celebrate one hundred years of ministry. During the Jamaican General Assembly, a ground-breaking took place on the site of the Olson Memorial Chapel—named after the family that came from the United States in 1907 with the message of the Church of God. On the last Sunday in July, the Church of God in Jamaica celebrated once again as construction on the church was completed in an amazing six months. Though the journey was not easy, Adinhair Jones, executive chairman of the Church of God in Jamaica, saw evidence of God at work the entire way.
Since the centennial celebration, Adinhair reports a process that drove the Church of God there to their knees, confessing full dependence on God. “The challenges of fundraising and finding good terms for the mortgage were daunting, to saythe least,” Adinhair recounts. “We always knew that taking on a project of this magnitude was going to require depending on God, dreaming and working together, making the sacrifice repeatedly, and staying the course when things got difficult.”
Many in the Church of God know precisely what it’s like to undertake an expansion project or a building campaign. Adinhair cites several things that came together at just the right time under the providence of God. First, the contractor was especially patient and generous. Second, important contributions were made when it seemed hope had vanished. Third, the timing of the mortgage agreement was just right in spite of barriers that came up along the way. “Sure there were anxieties,” Adinhair reports. “There was even test of our unity around the project. However, our God-endowed hope and resilience kept us aiming toward the goal.” And on July 26, everyone who gathered marveled in what God had accomplished through them.
Adinhair sees the new church as a tribute to the Olsons, who sacrificed so much for the ministry of the Church of God in Jamaica in its early days. He believes the city and nation need to be reminded of their dependence on God. “It should remind us not to lose sight of what God intended and accomplished through the faith of the Olsons and our responsibility to build on that legacy,” he explains. Additionally, the Church of God in Jamaica envisions the new church location as a focal point in the community, a golden opportunity to expand the kingdom of God, and ultimately, a location for the national offices of the church.
Most amazing about the story of the Olson Memorial Church is that it grew from a core of just a few families a couple of decades ago. It had been meeting at the Ardenne High School, also founded by the Olsons. But at the school, there was a lingering sense of “homelessness” and “restlessness.” The location of the church’s newly constructed building is especially busy and used by residents from near and far. Hospitals, universities, and iconic cultural establishments exist there. Now, so does the Olson Memorial Church.
In the next five years, Adinhair Jones also looks forward to the possibilities nationwide for a groundswell of kingdom advancement. He longs to see the Church of God double in size in the next five years. He prays for strengthening of the national and regional structures, as well as growth in resources. He desires to encourage the all congregations to carry out the “good works” that accompany faith in Jesus Christ.
“I am excited that there is new fervor regarding growing the church and that we are all asking the right questions of ourselves, and of God, as we find our way.”