A Society’s Outpouring of Kindness

A Society’s Outpouring of Kindness

The plight of a 33-year-old mother was shared on the television news subsequent to the COVID-19 pandemic reaching the shores of Jamaica. She was laid off from her job as a domestic helper as the pandemic took its toll. Consequently, she was unable to provide for her eight children as a single mother. The deplorable and unsafe condition in which they lived was not left unnoticed, and many later witnessed the outpouring of compassion and love in response to her situation. She received more than she bargained for in gifts and goodies from kindhearted people at home and abroad. Most importantly, she is the beneficiary of much-improved living accommodation for herself and her children. What was most admirable in the news story about this mother is the quality of home schooling she offered her children who are performing ahead of their peers.

This happens to be one of several ways people have been cared for in the midst of the economic challenges and anxieties caused by COVID-19. Many organizations gave support through care initiatives during the early stages, allowing people to better handle the sudden impact and the uncertainties ahead. These acts of compassion and care were as follows:

  • The Private Sector Organization (PSOJ) contributed $150 million toward the purchase of ventilators. Ventilators are critical to pneumonia patients, which aid in restoring their oxygen levels, thus preventing them from dying.[1]
  • The Montego Bay-based Carlisle Inn owned by the Sandals Group was offered as accommodation for patients recovering from COVID-19.
  • Sandals Resorts had also decided against laying off its permanent workers, opting to pay 40 percent of their basic salary fortnightly and retain benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation leave despite the temporary closure of all its resorts in the Caribbean.
  • The National Water Commission offered a $500 million debt write-off for customers struggling to pay their bills.
  • Scotiabank and JN Bank suspended repossession and resale assets for customers falling in arrears.
  • The Student Loans Bureau waived application and processing fees.
  • JPS Foundation donated COVID-19 test kits in addition to offering support to the elderly and disabled persons.
  • The government provided compassionate grants and care packages for the needy, and street people were provided with two meals daily. 

The pandemic presented an opportunity for being there for each other, bearing one another’s burden, and being our brother’s keeper (Galatians 6:2). 

Given the attending challenges of COVID-19, it presents a stark reminder of our vulnerability when it comes to diseases, demonstrating that while things such as wealth and education may make us seem better than others, this pandemic has taught us otherwise. The coronavirus has extinguished any classism and division within our society, transcending all class, race, and stages in life, barring none for its purpose. Moving on, this reflection will help us to understand how the demonstration of compassion and justice in our society is significant to our survival and wellbeing in various aspects of our lives.

COMPASSION

Compassion is defined as “a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it,” according to the Collins English Dictionary.[2]It is derived from the ecclesiastical Latin word “compati,” which means to “suffer with.” Scripture teaches how God demonstrates compassion through mercy, love, and forgiveness. This is made evident in various ways:

  • First, compassion is forgiveness that offers tolerance and understanding for our mistakes to free us from the guilt of poor decisions and wasting of resources that would be available to us in times of crisis. As the pandemic hit, some persons, such as our popular entertainers whom would have seen the good times prior, felt the economic brunt. Many in the society blamed them for being ill-prepared, citing that they should not benefit from the government’s care programmes. However, as a society with shortcomings and vulnerabilities, we are called to show mercy and love as the story of the Prodigal Son reminds us (Luke 15:11-32).
  • Second, compassion is intervening in the human condition of hunger and lack of the basic needs for survival. Radio Jamaica’s Hotline host, Emily Shields, initiated the Hotline for the Elderly Programme from which many have benefitted through care packages and assistance with varying social needs. The elderly are one of the most susceptible groups in relation to the coronavirus, so with this in mind, she reached out to this group in a special way. The Word is, “Do this for them, and you do it also for Me.” (Matthew 25:40).
  • Third, we need compassion in our distress of physical and emotional pain. There was the case of a “Good Samaritan” highlighted on the television news: a man saw the plight of another man on the roadside within the vicinity of the Kingston Public Hospital. He was obviously outraged and demanded that the hospital provide the attention and care for this ailing man who was subsequently admitted for medical care. We may not be able to eliminate certain pain and affliction, but through words of encouragement, prayer, and seeking professional intervention on behalf of others, this can make a difference. God works through us to be close to the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

While showing compassion is good, it does not stop there. There is the need to take it further by advocating on behalf of those who lack the necessary resources and defending the oppressed and victimized. In other words, assist in pursuing justice to end the cycle of dependency and reprisals. 

JUSTICE

Justice is defined as just behavior or treatment; the quality of being fair and reasonable; and the administration of the law or authority in maintaining this, according to the Oxford Dictionary.[3] Therefore, one will agree that part of justice is showing compassion, such as in social justice, a call for the respect of human basic rights, and showing care and concern for the needs of others who are faced with injustice. Justice may be represented as follows: 

  • First, in a well-ordered society justice is seen to be done. One will be judged for an offence committed against the law with the relevant penalty applied. The Disaster Risk Management Act exists to contain the spread of the coronavirus. For example, those who hold illegal parties against the COVID-19 guidelines are brought to book. Justice is handed down for the protection of the society and to preserve lives (Isaiah 56:1). 
  • Second, society must speak out, and not remain silent in cases of injustice, breaches of the law, and mistreatment. In such cases, it is working with the enforcers of the law by reporting the crimes you observe, such as the illegal parties and those endangering the health of others by not wearing a mask. Do your part, preserve the law, do what is right (Psalm 106:3). 
  • Third, lobby on behalf of the less fortunate to ensure they have the rights and benefit of basic needs, decent accommodation, and a livable wage. It is about advocacy. Given the challenges of the pandemic, there are many people who cannot afford masks and hand sanitizers, let alone to change a mask every day or more frequently as required. Organizations such as the Church advocate within their membership to contribute these items toward care packages as part of their community outreach initiatives. It is speaking up for the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31: 8-9).  

[1] Private sector pledges $150 million to COVID-19 fight, (Jamaica Gleaner, 2020), http://jamaicagleaner.com/article/news/20200322/private-sector-pledges-150-million-covid-19-fight

[2] HarperCollins Publishers, (Collins, 2021), https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/compassion

[3] Lexico (powered by Oxford 2021), https://www.lexico.com/definition/justice


Prayer

Our Father and Protector, you have brought us thus far. We pray for your sustaining grace and strength to carry us through this crisis as we remember those who are affected – whether from contracting the virus, by caring for an infected loved one, or lost a loved one as a result. Lord, let our total trust be in you as we do our part in combating the virus and protecting the most vulnerable among us. In Christ Jesus’s name we pray. Amen. 

For Reflection and Discussion:

  1. What will it take for this momentum of kindness to continue?
  2. What have you learned from this crisis? How can this guide you to handle future crises?
  3. Do you think stronger measures are necessary to protect the population in crises of this proportion?
Gratitude

Gratitude

BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1972-07.1

Mrs. Helen Fling, Chairman of the Resolutions Committee appointed on Thursday night, presented the following:

BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the members of the BWA Executive Committee, publicly express gratitude:

For the blessings of God that have come to our lives individually and corporately during these days of our deliberations in Jamaica;

For the prayerful leadership and detailed planning of our President, other officers, and the entire BWA staff;

For the generous hospitality and entertainment of the Jamaica Baptist Union, remembering the splendid preparation and untiring work of its officers and staff, and also recognizing the wholehearted cooperation of the Union;

For the warmth and spirit of the churches as well as the wonderful participation of pastors, laymen, women, nd youth alike, with special mention of the delightful Jamaican meal at the East Queen Street Baptist Church, and in a different vein, with special mention of the inspiration of the International Rally at the National arena with its privilege of united worship;

and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we go from this memorable and meaningful meeting to offer ourselves anew to God to be used in His Mission of Reconciliation of man to man and man to God.

MOTION was made by Mrs. Fling, and seconded, and carried, that this resolution be adopted. Mr. McKenzie was asked to report this action to those in the Jamaica Baptist Union who had done so much to make the meeting a success.

Keywords

BWA; Appreciation; Jamaica; Reconciliation.

Citations

Original Source Bibliography: Denny, Robert S., editor. Baptist World Alliance: Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee Held at Kingston, Jamaica, July 27-30, 1972. Washington, D.C.: Baptist World Alliance, 1972.

Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Robert S. Denny, ed., Baptist World Alliance: Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee Held at Kingston, Jamaica July 27-30, 1972 (Washington, D.C.: Baptist World Alliance, 1972), p. 40.

Online Document Full Citation: BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1972-07.1 Gratitude; https://o7e.4a3.myftpupload.com/resolutions.

In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1972-07.1).
For more information about Baptist World Alliance resolutions, visit BaptistWorld.org/resolutions.

Since its formation in 1905, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the global Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.

Gratitude

Appreciation

BWA General Council Resolution 1992.8

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica, July 4-12, 1992;

EXPRESSES to the Jamaica Baptist Union sincere appreciation and genuine gratitude for the splendid preparation and warm hospitality of Jamaica Baptists;

ACKNOWLEDGES the honor of being welcomed at the opening dinner by a fellow Baptist, the Prime Minister, the Honorable P. J. Patterson. We further acknowledge the honor of receiving greetings in the opening session of the General Council from the Governor General, the Most Excellent Sir Howard Cooke, and His Worship Arthur G. Gilchrist, the Mayor of Montego Bay, and Dr. Roy Henry, President of the Jamaica Baptist Union;

COMMENDS sincerely the Jamaica Baptist Union and the local arrangements committee chaired by Rev. Sam Reid for their outstanding job in planning and conducting a very successful Baptist World Alliance gathering;

GIVES a special word of thanks for the wonderful cultural experience and witnessing opportunity of joining Jamaica Baptists in the March for Jesus Rally to Sam Sharpe Square, downtown Montego Bay; and,

WE CARRY with us, as we leave the beautiful island of Jamaica, a fresh vision of the love of Jesus Christ so prevalent in the hearts and lives of Baptists in Jamaica!

Citations

Original Source Bibliography: Lotz, Denton, editor. Baptist World Alliance 1992-1993 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory. McLean, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 1992.

Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Denton Lotz, ed., Baptist World Alliance 1992-1993 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory (McLean, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 1992), pp. 174-175.

Online Document Full Citation: BWA General Council Resolution 1992.8 Appreciation; https://o7e.4a3.myftpupload.com/resolutions.

In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA General Council Resolution 1992.8).

Gratitude

The Evangelization of the Peoples of Africa

BWA General Council Resolution 1993.1

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe August 6-9, 1993,

ACKNOWLEDGES with gratitude to Almighty God the movement of the Holy Spirit seen in the dramatic expansion of the churches in the continent of Africa, and in particular the growth of BWA member churches of approximately 50% over the past five years;

CALLS UPON the Executive Committee of the BWA to give special consideration to ways of supporting the All-Africa Baptist Fellowship in the terms laid out by the President of the BWA in the report and in the spirit of partnership spelled out in the 1987 Declaration of Ibadan; and

URGES the worldwide Baptist constituency to continue to support our African brothers and sisters as partners in mission, acknowledging the crucial role of Africans in winning Africans to Christ and doing everything possible to increase resources for their work.

Citations

Original Source Bibliography: Lotz, Denton, editor. Baptist World Alliance 1993-1994 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory. McLean, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 1993.

Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Denton Lotz, ed., Baptist World Alliance 1993-1994 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory (McLean, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 1993), p. 107.

Online Document Full Citation: BWA General Council Resolution 1993.1 The Evangelization of the Peoples of Africa; https://o7e.4a3.myftpupload.com/resolutions.

In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA General Council Resolution 1993.1).

Gratitude

Liberation Legacy of Sam Sharpe

BWA General Council Resolution 2013.5

BWA General Council Resolution 2013.5 Liberation Legacy of Sam Sharpe

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Ocha Rios, Jamaica, July 1-6, 2013:

HONORS the occasion of the 181st anniversary of the execution of Jamaican national hero and liberator Sam Sharpe on May 23, 2013;

CELEBRATES the life of this Baptist deacon and preacher, an enslaved person and leader of the so- called Baptist’s War in Jamaica, 1831-1832, who contributed significantly to the emancipation of Caribbean people from chattel slavery and ultimately to the abolition of slavery across the British Empire;

EXPRESSES solidarity with persons living under oppressive regimes across our world today;

ACKNOWLEDGES the actions of Baptists in our own generation who champion freedom from oppression;

RE-AFFIRMS our historic Baptist commitment to freedom and justice for all, as exemplified by the sacrificial life and ministry of Sam Sharpe;

URGES governments and international authorities to respect the right of all human beings to be free from oppression;

ASSURES those who are suffering continuing vigilance and prayerful support of the global Baptist family; and

CALLS UPON Baptist churches to join the struggle for liberation and social inclusion for all, and to take concrete action against injustice wherever it is found.

Citations

BWA General Council Resolution 2013.5 Liberation Legacy of Sam Sharpe

Original Source Bibliography: Callam, Neville, editor. Baptist World Alliance 2013 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory. Falls Church, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 2013.

Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Neville Callam, ed., Baptist World Alliance 2013 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory (Falls Church, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 2013), p. 141.

Online Document Full Citation: BWA General Council Resolution 2013.5 Liberation Legacy of Sam Sharpe; https://o7e.4a3.myftpupload.com/resolutions.

In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA General Council Resolution 2013.5).