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IN THE CANDID CORNER – Comprehensive school prayers


Matthew D. Farley

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Somebody prayed for me; they had me on their mind, their sacrifice their time . . . and prayed for me. – Nazarene SilvertonesON MONDAY, August 30, the educational community was lathed in prayers in a manner that has never been seen or felt before. We are eternally indebted to a group who call themselves Partners Who Will Push. The organisation that is buttressed by the philosophy, “pray until something happens” conceptualised a prayer vigil and candlelight ceremony to coincide with beginning of the new academic year. On behalf of the entire educational community, I express sincere gratitude to these “women of excellence” who mobilised many mighty men of God to cover one of the most important sectors in national development with prayers.What impressed me most was the intimate understanding of the problems and issues that confront education in Barbados which they exhibited. The ceremony heard Bishop Wesley Dear making a powerful intercession on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development. The prayers were not just general petitioning, but Minister Ronald Jones, the Acting Chief Education Officer Mr Laurie King, who was present, the deputy chiefs and all the supporting staff of the Constitution Road headquarters were called by name and washed in prayers “from the crown of their heads to the sole of their feet” as my grandmother used to pray. It was as if the cloudy windows of heaven were opened and the blessings were coming down as the prayers were going up.Then it was my turn, not to pray but to feel the avalanche of God’s blessings take hold of the Mount Of Praise sanctuary in a way that has left me feeling that in spite of all the problems that beset our system, nothing will harm us now. Rev. Dr Carlyle Williams prayed for principals, Deputy principals and all school boards. My colleagues and I who are at the helm of close to 120 educational institutions welcome this inundation of the sector in prayers.As I stood there in the presence of the mighty men and women of God, I felt like I was on holy ground. I determined that I had to be there since I too have deep-seated concerns that there are many evil forces competing for the minds of our youth. As principals we are in the front line of the battle and we take the brunt of the criticism. While Jeff Broomes and his adversary Mary Redman and Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union were not present, Barbados can be assured that the spirit of disharmony which has threatened the St Peter institution has been broken, “in the name of Jesus”. This certainly was the assurance we all felt as the Rev. Paul Watson petitioned and claimed victory on behalf of the Alexandra school. Minister Ruth Hinds asked that God empower school counselors with wisdom and patience, acknowledging that one per secondary school was far from adequate. After the worship team created an atmosphere of interdependence with the chorus I Need You, You Need Me, Bishop Patricia Holder prayed for the spirit of unity and co-operation among all stakeholders in the sector, citing parents, non-teaching and ancillary staff. Mr Ken Layne, a teacher, and Shaunda Watson-Holder, a student, shared the prayers for teachers and students as they touched each other’s lives in a community of learners.Bishop Marlon Husbands, Bishop Ophneil Forde, Rev. Ferdinand Nicholls and Prophetess Judy Dunner made the intercession, reiterating the biblical notion that “if two of you agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done . . . ”. As the congregation raised their hands and voices in confirmation, we believe that no weapon that is raised against the nation’s children shall prosper.Powerful prayers against the anti-god spirit that is permeating the school system, as well as against pornography, fornication, lesbianism, homosexuality and bestiality came like torrents from Pastor Sandra Johnson and Elder Suzette Husbands. Rev. Enric Connolly and Rev. Edwin Bullen viciously but reverentially attacked substance abuse and gambling, their negative impact on our students and gang violence respectively.Last but by no means least, Pastor Sherwood Howell pleaded the blood on the predatory spirit that manifests itself as bullying, and Pastor Thelma Greaves confronted the negative influence of music on our youth. I commend the Acting Chief Education Officer Laurie King for being present and applaud Senator David Durant for officiating during the candlelight vigil aspect of the ceremony and for sealing the night of prayer as he encouraged educators and all stakeholders present to “take their candle and go light their world”. It was indeed a night of comprehensive prayers for our schools. Trust me, oh how we do need it!

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