A word to The Messenger
I HAVE ALWAYS ADMIRED devout Christians and have much time for them, especially those with a proven faith in God and others who passionately speak of their relationship with His Son.
One of those people was Ricardo Cumberbatch, once known as the visual artist Ireko but in recent years as The Messenger. In former times, I had a cordial rapport with Cumberbatch and he often encouraged me in my own Christian walk and urged me to use my own writing as an avenue for the promotion of positive and wholesome values.
He even attended the church of which I’m a member on a few occasions and commended the only sermon I have ever given, and rightly stated that God had a hand in my life. He subsequently presented me and veteran entertainer Richard Stoute with a painting each.
But I became slightly suspicious of Cumberbatch’s agenda when he told me that my pastor was a demon and that he himself was able to identify such beings in myriad persons across the social spectrum of Barbados.
Then one day, after some of his many letters to THE NATION had been published, he asked my assistance in getting a volume of longer letters published in this newspaper. I told him I would try but could give no guarantee.
Having left copies of the letters with me, he called back a few weeks later asking about the status of them, and I replied that I had forwarded them to the persons who would decide whether they were worth publishing or not.
By the time he called again, this time with a hint of impatience in his voice, I had no choice but to let him know that I no longer had control over his letters; to which he replied: “Boy, I like I gine gotta prophesy against you.”
I had by then grown accustomed to The Messenger telling me about prominent people in the society to whom he had written letters warning them to get right with God. But my concern became acute when he seemed victorious in his belief that anything that happened to these people had somehow occurred based on his own prophecy. I found that disturbing.
I have no doubt that people, from time immemorial, have felt the wrath of God and will continue to do so, for none us is immune. But for a mortal sinner to feel some semblance of joy and vindication, when something negative occurs in the life of another person whom he believes is not right with God, because he says so, is truly sad.
It is preposterous as well because there is no favour with God under the New Covenant, having sent His Son to die for all people. Wasn’t it Paul, the greatest of the apostles, who said “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”? – Galatians 3:28 NIV.
Today, therefore, it is no surprise that someone has decided to speak out about what have been rightly described as Cumberbatch’s “threatening” epistles. Others have merely mentioned them, but so clearly disturbing were they to the National Assistance Board’s assistant director Andrew Browne that he sought assistance from the police.
Though these letters, of which I have received nearly ten, are filled with biblical text, there is an underlying tenor which can create discomfort or fear based on the possibility of “an experience” or “visitation” from on high.
In fact, I’m sure The Messenger will take comfort in the fact that soon after he first told me he would prophesy against me in 2007, I went through a personal and emotional experience that was second only to the loss of my grandmother when I was eight years old!
I began to wonder whether Cumberbatch was indeed a prophet whose warning had led to my emotional affliction. But having read and given thought to his warning letters, and recently hearing the complaint of someone who appears rational, I cannot help but think that what he is doing is not right; not if he claims to have a relationship with his Redeemer or an ounce of love and empathy for fellow human beings.
Is there any gain for The Messenger in the hurt of others who, like him, are sons, parents and average people trying to survive daily?
There is only one judge where sin is concerned and His judgement will be awesome, perfect, just and final. But for now, I do not believe any one of us has been put here in place of God to judge sin.
Since some of Cumberbatch’s published letters seem quite positive, I would encourage him to use his writings to uplift and enlighten people instead of seeking to discourage and terrify by way of these sustained verbal assaults.
• Ricky Jordan is an Associate Editor of THE NATION.