Dear Ministry Partners,
Thank you so much for keeping us in Jamaica throughout 2022 and now to start 2023. We are, finally, starting to see some real fruit. We always try to find a positive kernel of substance in every potentially fruit-producing opportunity in order to motivate ourselves to keep pushing forward, but the Lord has now given us an adult convert who has been baptized and joined the church, we had 18 in attendance for church on New Year’s Day, and at least a couple of people in the church have begun making an effort to connect us with their friends in an effort to get us an opportunity to evangelize them. Things are really looking up!
Some challenging realities just don’t seem to change though no matter how familiar we become with the culture or the government. That said, as the heading on this letter indicates, we have found ourselves in a dilemma, not of our own making, but due to the institutionalized inefficiency of the government. What I mean by “Institutionalized Inefficiency” is that the difficulty in getting significant official paperwork approved and filed seems to be by design.
After being rejected and refiling paperwork over a period of about 8 months just to get our first visa approved when we first came to Jamaica, we are now waiting anxiously for the Ministry of Labor to come through with the approval of our Work Permit Exemption so that we can get that visa renewed, and time has become critical. Our visa runs out on January 13th, just a little more than a week from today, and our exemption approval has still not been completed even though we filed it in October of 2022 just to make sure that this didn’t happen. It was supposed, according to their own policy, to take six weeks, or less, for them to complete the approval process and get our paperwork back to us. It has, obviously, been much longer than that and we cannot renew our visas without that approval.
No. We’re not entirely surprised. The permit for our church sign in Ocho Rios, which we applied for a year-and-a-half ago, has still not been approved in spite of a promise that it would be completed 90 days from our turning it in and paying for it. We have since, of course, moved away from Ocho Rios, but you get the point.
Making the situation even more stressful is the fact that once the Work Permit Exemption paperwork is officially approved by the Ministry of Labor, even if they do not get it to us, the clock on the window that we have to then get our new visa approved, based on that exemption, begins immediately so that if we do not get it done in that window, we lose both and must start over.
We’ll be leaving the country for a brief visit to the States to visit a few churches and get some much-needed medical attention in just two weeks. Though we are going to make good use of that trip, it too is required by the government. All of that said, we need prayer that the Lord would, in spite of the “Institutionalized Inefficiency”, put our Work Permit Exemption and visas in our hands ASAP so that we can sleep again and focus on the very important tasks we must get accomplished in the States so as to come back to the field fit and ready to move the ministry forward. Lord bless you for investing prayer in getting this done!
John & Tammy Cooley, Jamaica