THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
JAMAICA LOOKING FOR SHARE OF FAITH-BASED TOURIST MARKET—05/31/08
Edmund Bartlett, Tourism Minister, says that Jamaica wants to improve its offerings to faith-based tourists. This market has seen significant growth of late. According to Bartlett, a faith-based tourism committee has been created. Its goals will be to promote Jamaica, showcase the island as the capital of the gospel music world, and encourage the development of attractions to meet the needs of faith-based travelers.
JAMAICA PLANS TO REVIVE RAILROADS WITH HELP FROM CHINA—05/31/08
Michael Henry, Transportation Minister, says that Jamaica will revive its railroad industry, and China will help to offset increasing costs of fuel and provide a transportation alternative. The government of China will provide the funding for 85 percent of the US$354 million railroad project via a loan to the Jamaica Railway Corporation. The project, which involves building 18 new rail centers across Jamaica, will take about three years to finish. It is unclear when the construction will start.
JAMAICAN FARMERS TO GET AID FOR ORCHARD CROPS—06/01/08
J.C. Hutchinson, Minister of Agriculture, says that the Fruit Tree Crop Program will help about 200 farmers establish between 400 and 450 hectares of orchard crops during fiscal 2008. Hutchinson also noted that the project provided similar aid in 2007, establishing more than 200 hectares of fruit tree orchards on holdings of farmers. In 2008, the program is expected to create jobs for more than 1,500 individuals.
SOUTH FLORIDA KEY TO JAMAICA’S ECONOMY—06/02/08
Jamaica’s new government believes that small businesses can sell more overseas and help to bring in enough money to pay down the island’s huge debt. The government is relying on South Florida, which is home to the second-largest Jamaican community on foreign soil, to market the products and provide necessary development.
JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT PROPOSES PRIVATE SECURITY FOR HWT—06/03/08
Jamaica’s government is thinking about spending $1 million per week to provide private security for the Half-Way Tree Transport Center (HWT). The plan has already received the approval of the National Contracts Commission and a Cabinet subcommittee, but it must be endorsed by the full Cabinet before going forward. Protection and Security, a local company, won the contract, which has a value of $52.7 million.
GOVERNMENT WILL OPERATE ST. JOSEPH’S HOSPITAL—06/04/08
According to Rudyard Spencer, Minister of Health and Environment, the Jamaican government will sign an agreement to acquire St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kingston. The hospital’s acquisition will allow the government to expand health care to meet the needs of the growing populations of Kingston and St. Andrew.
LEWIN TO RETAIN POLICE POST—06/05/08
Hardley Lewin, Jamaican Police Commissioner, had resigned in the midst of a corruption scandal, but he has since changed his mind and will not leave his position. The resignation came as over 30 Jamaican police officers were arrested for corruption to date in 2008. When hearing of his decision to stay on as Police Commissioner, Bruce Golding, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, seemed to give Lewin a vote of confidence.
EDUCATION MINISTER “DISAPPOINTED” WITH GSAT RESULTS—06/06/08
Chief education officer Jasper Lawrence at the Ministry of Education says he is disappointed with the student results in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) for 2008. The national averages were low, but Lawrence says measures are being implemented to improve students’ performance. Test results determine student placement in secondary schools. The averages for all subjects were not made available, but the tests showed an improvement in mathematics for 2008. In 2007, the national average had been in the 40s.
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN WANTED FOR MURDER IN TAMPA—05/31/08
The Tampa, Florida, police are looking for Davion Parson, 19, in connecting with the shooting of two Tampa disc jockeys and their associate. Parson, a Jamaican migrant, was reported to have fled the scene of the murders at the Thunderbird Bar by borrowing money from his mother and
Taking a flight to Jamaica.
JAMAICANS IN BRITAIN INTERESTED IN LOCAL REAL ESTATE—06/04/08
Earl Jarrett, general manager of Jamaica National Building Society, notes an increase in the number of Jamaicans living outside of Jamaica who want to buy property on the island. Several thousands Jamaicans who live in the United Kingdom attended a real estate fair held by the organization together with other firms in Jamaica’s real estate sector.
JAMAICAN ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGE TO FACE FATE—06/05/08
Renford Clarke, 45, was arrested on four drug related charges following his detention at the V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua with 4.5 pounds of cannabis. Clarke pleaded guilty to two of the four charges, admitting that he was in possession of cannabis and in possession of cannabis with the intent to transfer the drug. There was no evidence offered on the other two charges, which involved importation of the drug and intent to supply.
NEWTON JAMES RECEIVES MARITAL ARTS HONOR—06/06/08
Shihan Newton James of Jamaica began his martial arts karate career in 1968 in Kingston and has since taught the martial art to others and traveled around the island performing demonstrations to raise money for the YMCA and less fortunate children. He migrated to the United States in 1978 and will be inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He was also given the title of “Hanshi” and promoted to 9th Degree Black Belt. He is the first Jamaican to achieve this accomplishment.
JAMAICAN WOMAN A PIONEER IN MOTORCYCLE RIDING—05/31/08
Bessie Stringfield was born in Jamaica, but then orphaned in Boston, Massachusetts. She died in 1983 at the age of 82 after spending 60 years riding motorcycles in the United States. She started riding in a time when women were not supposed to be doing such things, especially black women. During her life, Bessie owned 27 Harley Davidson bikes. She founded the Iron Horse Motorcycle Club and was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame after her death.
BOLT SETS WORLD RECORD IN MEN”S 100 METERS—06/01/08
Jamaican Usain Bolt, 21, set a world record with his running of the men’s 100 meters at 9.72 seconds in New York. Bolt achieved his time at the Reebok Grand Prix meet at Icahn Stadium. Bolt’s time improves of that of his countryman Asafa Powell, who set the record at 9.74 in September 2007.
BOLT NOT DECIDED YET ON BEIJING—06/03/08
Usain Bolt has not yet stated whether he will run the 100 meters at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China in August. Bolt, who has just set the world record in the 100 meters, has previously said he will run the 100 in Beijing, but now says his coach has not made the decision yet. Bolt’s specialty is the 200 meters.
CAMPBELL-BROWN HAPPY WITH PERFORMANCE—06/04/08
Veronica Campbell-Brown, current Olympic 200-meter champion, achieved a world record at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York. She clocked 10.91 for the 200-meter run and says she is happy with how her performance is progressing. Her objective, she says, is to run faster than last year, and since she accomplished that, she is happy.
Faith: How Much?
At one point or another we’ve all done it. Struggling under the weight of a situation, and facing a crisis of faith, we’ve prayed words to the effect, “Lord, increase my faith.” I’m reminded of the narrative in Mark 9 in which Jesus met a man whose son had a “dumb spirit”, and who when stricken, engaged in all kinds of destructive behaviors. The disciples had tried but couldn’t cast the spirit out. Jesus “asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!'” (vv. 21-24, ESV).
At first glance, the statement ‘I believe; help my unbelief’ may seem a bit of a contradiction but it really isn’t. This father, having seen his son victimized on numerous occasions, and seeing the disciples failure, didn’t have much hope that anything could be done. So as any distraught parent would, he said to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” That was not an exercise of faith. Sure he wanted to believe, but the evidence was stacked high against him. Let’s not overlook Jesus’ emphatic reaction to the man’s qualifier; “If you can!”. In other words, “What do you mean ‘If I can!'”? Knowing that Jesus was capable of doing more than he could imagine, the father, facing a crisis of faith, found a way to activate the little that he had. As the narrative tells us, he quickly found out that it wasn’t the amount of faith that mattered, but the activation of the amount he had.
Jesus reinforced this principle in a narrative recorded in Luke 15. “The apostles came up and said to the Master, ‘Give us more faith.’ But the Master said, ‘You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it” (vv. 5-6, The Message). The astounding thing is that no one can say they lack faith as Paul affirmed that “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3b). So as we can see, the issue is not whether or not we have faith, but rather our inability to activate “the measure” we have been given.
It is important to note that faith can only be activated in the presence of the Word (Romans 10:17), so as we deal with our respective challenges, we have to believe that God can do the things He says He can do. It is only then that we can lay claim to the substance of the things hoped for, and the evidence of which we have not yet seen. In other words, faith connects us in the now with those things which are yet to come, all the while being fully persauded that we already have them, regardless of the external evidence. “All things are possible for one who believes”; all it takes is faith the size of a poppy seed. If Jesus said it, that’s good enough for me. Is it good enough for you?
The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.