“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.