By Carl Stagner
Over time, ministries that were once powerful and effective can grow stale with little or no impact. Of course, this process is usually unintentional, but cultural shifts and other external factors deal unanticipated blows to what was once healthy and of eternal consequence. Thankfully, the God that brought life to such ministries in the first place can breathe new life into dry bones. Such is the case with the national men’s ministry of the Church of God in Jamaica. A new focus and new island-wide strategy have already demonstrated the timelessness of this divine work to reach and engage men at home, at work, in church, and in society.
Neslie Wright attends Blenheim Town Church of God in the parish of Manchester. As a layperson in the congregation, he helps with a variety of ministry areas, including communications and preaching. But it is his role as president of the men’s ministry for the Church of God in Jamaica that is especially meaningful to him today. Though the men’s ministry was in existence prior to assuming the leadership role, the impact of, and overall involvement in, the ministry was in need of a new focus. God placed a burden on Wright’s heart to refocus the men’s ministry, and the impact of the steps of faith that followed have paved the way for many exciting years of men’s ministry ahead.
“The men’s ministry in Jamaica was active before I became president,” Wright explains. “However, the synergy was declining, hence a new focus and strategy was introduced to re-energize an island-wide thrust.”
Encouraged to move forward with the refocused plans by the national church’s executive council and a few male leaders committed to the cause, Neslie Wright implemented the changes inspired by the vision God had given. Because the men of Jamaica are especially enthusiastic about working on projects and being involved in social activity, several key steps were taken to ensure these components are central to the new national men’s ministry. One of those steps was the creation of emergency response and restoration programs.
“We have done a number of trainings and publications on natural disaster, in support of MERRP (Men Emergency Response and Restoration Programme),” Wright explains. “Due to the diverse culture of our local regions, we are using sports, prison ministry, socials, and banquets in support of the NSIP (National Social Integration Programme).” Simply put, social activities—including ministry activities—are done with purpose and for a cause. This kind of intentionality has had great appeal with the men of the Jamaican Church of God, and the resulting involvement has been very encouraging for Neslie Wright.
One of the prominent ways to get involved in the reorganized men’s ministry is through prison ministry. Using a ministry strategy for which Neslie Wright credits Church of God Ministries’ Handel Smith, the men are motivated to help inmates “belong, become, and believe.” Additionally, the guiding principles of learning to “cope” and discovering “hope” in prison have given the incarcerated practical tools while helping men from the Church of God congregations find purpose in personal ministry. The prisons and correctional centers have taken notice, and have demonstrated their appreciation in very visible ways. “The access to these prisons and correctional centers was divinely favored,” Wright reflects. “We were granted permissions for unusually high numbers of visitors, visiting during unusual hours, all which mean unusual processing time. We’re thankful because this ministry speaks to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:36. Despite the physical restrictions on the inmates, they can be spiritually free. Hence, it is incumbent upon us to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone, irrespective of the environment and circumstance in which they dwell.”
To further augment the unity among the men of Jamaica and beyond, they’ve established “Brotherly Day,” a special experience scheduled at different points on the calendar to bring together Church of God men from across the Caribbean-Atlantic region. Their first event was held on the Thursday before Easter this year, and involved a video slideshow that was circulated, celebrating what God is doing through these godly men of the region in fellowship and outreach.
“The spiritual and social affairs of our brothers in the church, family, and society are paramount,” Neslie Wright concludes. “Hence, we use this day to pray with, and support, each other. Our unity will break down the walls of race, color, socio-economic class, age, education, and personality. All of this is to demonstrate the spiritual brotherly love, care, and appreciation for each other in the Christian faith.”
Learn more about, and get involved in, the work of the Church of God around the world at www.chogglobal.org.