‘I want to build back the Church’

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Orantes Moore Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

PORT MARIA, St Mary: LIEU­TENANT LEROY Lawrence is a lik­able young min­is­ter and mu­si­cian who re­cently took charge of The Sal­va­tion Army Church in Port Maria, St Mary. His wife is also a pas­tor, and to­gether, the newly-weds are hop­ing to broaden the church’s ap­peal by en­gag­ing with more young peo­ple and en­cour­ag­ing for­mer mem­bers to re­turn.

Speak­ing ear­lier this week, Lawrence, who orig­i­nally hails from West­more­land, said he was par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about work­ing with chil­dren and young adults across the par­ish.

EARLY IN­FLU­ENCE

He told Fam­ily and Re­li­gion: “I de­cided to be­come a pas­tor be­cause when I was younger, I saw how the pas­tors in my church op­er­ated and the in­flu­ence they had on my life and the lives of oth­ers within my com­mu­nity and con­gre­ga­tion.

“How­ever, be­ing a pas­tor is not what I wanted to do. I sum up my call­ing to min­istry to be a pas­tor as a series of dis­ap­point­ments that I faced in my life. But that’s when I re­alised and started lis­ten­ing to how God called me and melted my heart to His ser­vice.

“My plan here is to build back the church be­cause from what I’ve ob­served and been told, there are a few peo­ple per­sons who had seem­ingly lost in­ter­est in church or had left for a pe­riod of time, but now they are com­ing back, and I thank God for that.”

Lawrence, who plays a range of in­stru­ments, in­clud­ing the key­board, drums, and the trum­pet, de­scribes his wife as “a pow­er­ful singer” and be­lieves that mu­sic is an in­te­gral el­e­ment of the cou­ple’s mis­sion in St Mary.

He said: “Maybe a lot of peo­ple don’t know, but The Sal­va­tion Army is very big on mu­sic and known for its brass band. As a mu­si­cian, I try to in­fuse mu­sic, and other ar­eas of the cre­ative arts into my min­istry, and I’m very pas­sion­ate about youth min­istry.”

Dur­ing the in­ter­view, Lawrence re­vealed plans to host a con­cert in Port Maria in Fe­bru­ary and hopes to use the show to help en­thuse and in­spire the town’s young peo­ple.

He ex­plained: “I think the big­gest prob­lem fac­ing young peo­ple to­day is a lack of iden­tity. A lot of them are not en­tirely sure where they are, and once they reach that teenage-adolescent stage, they’re lit­er­ally at a cross­roads, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing what I de­scribe as a cri­sis of faith.”

FAITH CRI­SIS

He con­tin­ued: “They be­come un­sure and start say­ing things like ‘I’m not sure if I want to be a part of this God and church thing.’ I re­mem­ber ob­serv­ing some­thing sim­i­lar with per­sons from my age group when I was back home at my church in West­more­land. When some of them left to go to col­lege, some­thing took over their minds be­cause when they re­turned, they ques­tioned God and ev­ery­thing about the Bi­ble.

“I think the best way to ad­dress these is­sues is through one-on-one con­ver­sa­tions, but many times it’s a strug­gle to be a spir­i­tual in­flu­ence in the lives of young peo­ple be­cause that’s not what they’re look­ing for. Of­ten­times, they just want some­one to con­fide in and talk with and to know that per­sons will give them good ad­vice.” Lieu­tenant Leroy Lawrence, pas­tor, Sal­va­tion Army Church, Port Maria, St Mary.

PHOTO BY ORANTES MOORE

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