The island of New Providence is just a shade under 80 square miles, and while it is one of the smaller islands in the Bahamas it is the largest (by far) in terms of population. I have only lived here for two and a half months, but with each passing week I am gaining a greater sense of the need of the people here—it is massive.
Last week I was able to meaningfully connect with two of the missions on this island. On Thursday, I drove out to the All Saints Aids Camp to tour their facilities and to meet those ministering to the people there. One volunteer described the camp as “a modern day leper colony”—a group of people that society doesn’t know how to cope with. These people are not unwell enough to require hospitalization, but they are not healthy enough to reasonably care for themselves. The camp is in a fairly remote area of the island and cannot be seen from a main road. I might have never heard of the Aids Camp if it weren’t for the fact that a bus load of U.S. volunteers working at the camp showed up at the Kirk a few Sundays ago.
A ministry from the United States, Next Step Ministries, has been sending down teams of volunteers all summer long. These groups have built two new cabins, repaired the “bath house”, and have rebuilt one of the concrete walkways. In addition to the very practical assistance Next Step has provided, these missionaries have also been a loving and caring presence to a group of people with emotional and spiritual needs.
As the summer season closes out, the work of the Aids Camp is largely left to a U.S. missionary couple, and a few paid administrators. I understand that the Aids Camp already has a couple of connections to local congregations, but I’m hoping and praying that at least one more connection can be made.
This past Saturday I had my second visit to Ranfurly Homes—a residence that provides a safe, structured environment for children who have been orphaned, abused, neglected or abandoned. I’m just getting to know the children there, but my intention is for my support to be long term. On Saturday, we mostly played basketball—what a delight it was to do this, and to see how playing sports can offer a boost to a child’s joy and self-esteem. The age of the boys playing ranged from 10 to 18, so this old pastor thought it made sense to try and cover the 18 year-old. Turns out that I chose poorly as this “kid” is a bit of a phenom. He dunked over me once, which was one part impressive and one part terrifying.
I recognize that my effectiveness in these contexts is diminished unless I make myself a regular an reliable presence in these children’s lives. I want to do that. I recall that James says in his letter, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
God cares about the most vulnerable, and so should I. But I also realize that I ought not to act alone. I need to think about meaningful ways to enlist and equip others to share in this work. The mission is huge, but this means that our potential for Gospel impact is also huge.
I am encouraged by the words of Jesus who recognized the immensity of the task at hand when He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2).
I will be praying for this. I will be praying for a new generation of Christ followers to come alongside the most vulnerable, and to offer them the love of Christ and the eternal blessing of His Gospel.