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ON REFLECTION – Has church forgotten the needy?

Ricky Jordan

ON REFLECTION – Has church forgotten the needy?

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ARE BARBADIANS SERIOUS about assisting the most vulnerable ekeing out a living among us?
What is to be done about desperate women like Keisha Brathwaite who, with two needy children to support and another on the way, decided recently to seek shelter in a vacant National Housing Corporation (NHC) unit?
Without stating the obvious fact that she’s breaking the law, the milk of human kindness should make us look at the extenuating circumstances.
This is a classic example of the cycle of poverty in motion, and if nothing is done now to halt it in this particular situation, then this woman may, in the next five years, probably have five more mouths to feed, may be in even worse circumstances, and may by then be a burden on the society.
This woman should not fall through the cracks, I believe, and I’m not even calling on the powers that be to step in. There are too many churches per district in Barbados for people to continue this dependency syndrome which either targets family or the Government of the day.
Furthermore, were one to judge readers’ reactions to this woman’s plight last week, the immediate conclusion of even the most casual observer would be that Government handouts are the sole solution to the cycle of poverty in Barbados in the 21st century.
But what about the church? Is it that the church does assist the downtrodden and disadavantaged but does it so quietly that hardly anyone is aware in this small society or, like the biblical precept, is it that the church does not let its left hand know what its right hand is doing?
Or is it that the church is so busy building spacious sanctuaries, music rooms, choir lofts and so on that it has overlooked the need to build a few shelters as temporary bases for the homeless and others in circumstances similar to Keisha Brathwaite’s?
Does the church feed only the Word – which rightfully should be its first, but not only, priority? Could this also be the reason why priests and pastors “reason” religiously every Sunday afternoon on national television about theological concepts but never discuss caring for the fatherless, the orphans, the widows or the homeless?
These are tough economic times and church leaders should be the head, and not the tail, in formulating plans for congregations to pool resources and cushion the impact of high prices.
Instead of holding annual services at which several denominations gather to fellowship and feel good afterwards, some networking should be done, geared, of course, towards making life easier for the most needy in their various congregations.
Ideas on transportation can be worked into a plan that would make daily travel cheaper; a discussion on using non-fossil fuel-generated energy in churches could result in putting resultant long-term savings back into charity work; using resource people in churches to teach members a trade could also be done in a systematic way, possibly by working alongside skills training organizations.
There is much that can be done but much of it may sound unnecessary and even herculean at this time because severe hardship has not struck the majority of Barbadians, natural disasters have spared us, and we’ve been blessed by the stability that some countries can’t even comprehend, far less realize.
At the same time there are several out there, like Brathwaite, surviving at the whim of some man’s largesse. To them, Independence means nothing and mere words, from a pulpit or platform, sound hollow.

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