Outside view of the new Life Hope Center that will facilitate addressing the needs of the poor and homeless in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica. The center was was inaugurated on July 13, 2019, located on the compound of the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mandeville, Manchester, Jamaica. Photo by Andrew Johnson

August 12, 2019 | Mandeville, Manchester, Jamaica | Damian Chambers/IAD News Staff

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Central Jamaica recently inaugurated a new center for the poor and homeless in Mandeville, Jamaica. The Life Hope Center, located on the grounds of the Mandeville Adventist Church, will welcome the homeless of the community as a one-stop location where they can shower, receive a meal, receive clothes, and get prayer, counseling and medical attention.

The center is the first of five centers of influence that the church is planning to establish across various cities in central Jamaica, said Pastor Levi Johnson, president of the church in the Central Jamaica Conference. “We discovered that all the town centers in central Jamaica are growing,” said Johnson as he referenced to the nearly 400,000 people living in the seven major cities and towns in the region.

Pastor Levi Johnson, president of the Central Jamaica Conference, addresses the congregation during the opening of the Life Hope Center at the Mandeville Adventist Church. Photo: Andrew Johnson

“This puts serious strain on limited infrastructure and resources and can impact negatively on the quality of life of persons who are poor, vulnerable and displaced,” said Johnson. “We are expecting that people who visit the Life Hope Center will receive special care and love and have their needs met, whether those needs are counseling, medical, dental or otherwise.”

The latest available report by the National Committee on Homelessness is from 2012, with hundreds of persons who are homeless island-wide. The growing homelessness has been considered a chronic problem ever since Hurricane Gilbert brought widespread destruction on the island in 1988.

Councilor Jones Oliphant representing Peter Bunting, Member of Parliament for Central Manchester, said that the new center of influence is the third such institution, established to address the needs of the poor in the city of Mandeville.

Mr. Jones Oliphant, Councilor for the Central Manchester Division greeted the congregation during the service for the opening of the Life Hope Center. Mr. Oliphant spoke on behalf of the Member of Parliament for Central Manchester, Mr. Peter Bunting. Photo: Andrew Johnson

Oliphant congratulated the Adventist church for establishing the center and said that he will take a resolution to the next meeting of the council that this newly established center of influence be listed under the Bureau of Supervision that can get the help needed to carry out its functions.

Oliphant expressed the desire of the Council not to allow feeding of the homeless on the streets. “They prefer these persons taken to a home or shelter where they can eat with dignity, have a bath and have other needs met,” said Oliphant. “If you need to feed the homeless, get in touch with one of the three centers that are established to addressed these needs. Not because they are homeless or mentally challenged, we need to let them know that they are valued.”

Pastor Everett Brown, president of the church in Jamaica, congratulated the local church leadership and said he was pleased to share in the opening of the Life Hope Center. “The church must respond to the needs of people in the community…we must be a good cooperative citizen,” said Brown.

Mrs. Maxine Mitchell, a Canadian philanthropist and guest speaker at the opening ceremony for the Life Hope Center addresses the congregation. Photo: Andrew Johnson

Guest speaker Maxine Mitchell, a native of Manchester who lives in Canada and who has contributed to education in Jamaica for many years, spoke during the ceremony and reminded church and community members that Jesus is the example of service to the poor and the needy.

“Jesus has commissioned us to care for each other,” said Mitchell. “This center is a prime example of how Jesus ministered while He was on earth. Jesus ministered to people’s needs and loved them before He shared the Word with them.”

Church and community leaders toured the 3,000 square-foot center which includes a shower, reading room, clothes distribution room, prayer/counseling room, and a restroom. The Life Hope Center is run by the Adventist Church in Central Jamaica and is managed by Mrs. Ursula Sharpe.

Ursula Sharpe of the Mandeville Adventist Church gives a tour of the facilities at the Life Hope Center. Photo: Andrew Johnson

To learn more about the church in Central Jamaica, visit centralja.org

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