Dear Ministry Partners,
Thank you so much for your prayers and support as we continue toward getting Villa Road Baptist Church autonomous…again. No, that is not a typo! Grace Baptist is now Villa Road Baptist. We’re in the process of filing for new incorporation under a new name as part of our push forward. The paperwork has, to be honest, been a nightmare. Simply put, the government is, generally, non-responsive, and does respond only when it is put under pressure by bad publicity (I applied some bad publicity and succeeded in moving things forward!).
The good news is that the people of the church have done more work, they contributed more, in June than they have in several years. We’ve been hauling stone and dirt up a ramp, a wheel-barrow at a time, into the building to fill in over 2,000 sqft. of crawl space in preparation for replacing the former wooden floors with concrete. It has been difficult work, but it is slowly getting done.
Part of our move toward autonomy is, of course, installing a Jamaican pastor. The picture you see to your right is Karl Smith, presently our co-pastor but eventually our senior pastor. You also see a picture of two of Karl’s five children. Sarah and Sasha are 20-year-old twins. They’re both attending a university here on the island and helping us work on the building
right now during their summer break. Karl is a taxi operator and also works part-time at a call center. He’s a hard worker, not making much, but, somehow, putting his girls, and a younger son (Jonathon), through school.
Both girls are very polite, are very attentive at church, and I think they’re both intellectually sharp. That all matters to me, because I recognize, having been in Jamaica for a while now, that the opportunities they’ll get as a result of having attended university in Jamaica will be limited. Because we want the very best for Brother Smith’s family, I have been burdened to do something about the girls’ future. Brother Smith has absolutely no idea I’m even thinking about this, he has never asked for my help, nor even suggested his girls have ambitions to leave Jamaica for schooling. They can’t afford it, so it’s not on their radar, but it is on mine!
Tammy and I have never made an even similar appeal, but I’ve been wondering if there isn’t someone in one of our great supporting churches who has information, or connections, or might even be involved in a stateside university where these girls might be eligible for some kind of scholarship and financial aid that would make their studying in the States cost free, including their room and board. We don’t have funding to send them, and their family certainly never will, but I can’t help but think what kind of impact their studying in the States might have on their family and, therefore, their parents’ ministry.
The very idea sounds like too much to hope for to us, but we have the greatest supporting churches in the world, and not even mentioning it would mean not giving anyone a chance to respond. This is not taking a pastor on for support, but giving his family a better opportunity to make their own way. I won’t say more. If the Lord is in it, I know someone will pick up the ball from here. Thank you for being the kind of people we can share big ideas with.
Lord Bless Your Ministry!
John & Tammy Cooley, Jamaica