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Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Ce­celia Camp­bell Liv­ingston Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

“Ed­u­ca­tion­ally, the ma­jor­ity are ei­ther to­tally il­lit­er­ate or func­tion­ally so. Many of these per­sons live ei­ther in ten­e­ment yards, poorly con­structed shacks or in the ‘maid’s quar­ters’ of mid­dle-class houses. In short, the peo­ple who make up the con­stituen­cies of Pen­te­costal churches rep­re­sent the most poorly ed­u­cated, worst housed, low­est paid and most vic­timised in the pop­u­la­tion,” Smith ARCO NEWELL is a liv­ing tes­ti­mony to how God has lit­er­ally been the only father fig­ure he knows. Since age 12, he has had to fend for him­self to sur­vive and make his way through high school. With the odds stacked against him – not hav­ing a sta­ble fam­ily back­ground – he has had to work twice as hard to not only fund his way through high school, which proved too much for him even­tu­ally, but to keep hunger from the door.

“I didn’t have life easy at all. Go­ing to high school was very dif­fi­cult for me be­cause I had to work very hard on a chicken farm to send my­self to school. I didn’t even fin­ish be­cause of fi­nan­cial prob­lems. I had to re­sort to full-time work as a teen in the com­mu­nity I grew up in,” he shared with Fam­ily and Re­li­gion.

Aban­doned, with no guid­ance from any adult, it is any won­der he didn’t fall vic­tim to the streets’ in­flu­ence.

“I knew what hun­gry felt like. I knew re­sent­ment. I knew re­jec­tion from mother and father – alone days and nights, at times don’t even have a place to sleep,” he said.

But in his weak­est mo­ments, God pro­vided him with a friend – Daniel Brown – now de­ceased, who helped him to keep his fo­cus in his weak­est mo­ments.

Newell said there were days he felt like giv­ing up and even com­mit­ting sui­cide.

“I would sit some­times won­der­ing, ‘What’s the eas­i­est pain­less way to end my life?’ I re­mem­ber one day I wrote a note and left it un­der one of my friend’s door and I was head­ing to­wards the train line to just lay across it and be crushed. Then, while walk­ing there, I heard a voice say­ing to me, ‘I am God. I made you for a pur­pose and it has to be ful­filled, so what you are go­ing through, I al­lowed it, so go back home,’ and that was an en­cour­age­ment for me,” shared Newell.

Shortly af­ter that, he gave his life to Christ and got bap­tised at age 16.

‘ROOTED AND GROUNDED’

Newell said at the time he was ‘rooted and grounded’ and as a young adult with no parental in­flu­ence, it was not easy. So he still ended up do­ing as he pleased. It wasn’t long be­fore he was ex­pect­ing to be a father.

Tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, he shared the news with the church. That proved to be a mis­take as he said he was re­jected and treated badly and he had to leave and wor­ship at an­other church.

To­day, he is giv­ing God thanks that he could pos­i­tively aa­fect his son who is now 14 and per­form­ing well in high school as a young Chris­tian.

Over the years, Newell said God has made Him­self real to him. But the mem­ory that stands out is one that he is still amazed at even to­day.

“I re­mem­ber I was work­ing in an in­dus­try and was work­ing alone one night, which is a no-no. I slipped into one of the tanks and I felt the hand of God hold me and pull me back be­fore I fell into the chem­i­cal. I was so fright­ened! I cried the whole night be­cause there was no one there but me. I still re­mem­ber it like it was yes­ter­day,” he said.

Cur­rently, Newell is pur­su­ing a mu­si­cal ca­reer in play­ing the key­board and bass gui­tar. He has recorded songs such as Divine Re­cov­ery and Ja­maica Prayer and is now work­ing on his al­bum, which he hopes to be re­leased by Jan­uary 2017.

It is not an easy in­dus­try in which to make it, but for Newell, the same God who has seen him through the hard­est times in his life will help him to spread the word mu­si­cally far and wide.

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