Dear Ministry Partners,
The Lord has really blessed this month. We are so grateful to Rex and Jan Harmon for having been so generous with their time. Their willingness to make a trip to Ocho Rios has allowed us to jump ahead to the next step in our ministry faster than would otherwise have been feasible, and our getting into our own apartment so that we could begin attempting to make contacts is really paying off.
It is not really my nature, or Tammy’s, to be especially outgoing, so we have just been walking into places where we knew Jamaicans would be and began introducing ourselves, our intentions, and making, what I am sure, are awkward attempts at developing acquaintances. We’ve walked from booth to booth at the Ocho Rios souvenir market and had lengthy conversations with vendors (Nicole, Andrea, Gladys, Arlene/Birdie, Zaro, Coco, and others), we sat down with a university student yesterday (Dominic) and had lunch, we’ve walked into shops at a nearby strip mall and made friends (Divine at the African clothing store and British at the Barber Shop), and today, Nicole and her cousin Troy committed themselves to finding us an affordable place to begin having meetings of some kind.
That brings us to a very significant prayer request for this month. We’re desperately wanting to find a meeting place so that we can begin having Sunday morning meetings. Because it is in a relatively small gated community, our apartment, though large enough, will not work. There is not enough parking, and the other tenets wouldn’t likely tolerate it.
That said, there are two real challenges for us. #1. This side of the island is full! What I mean by that is that there is very little available for rent here. Though several places are vacant, they’re not available for a church meeting place. #2. What properties are available are incredibly expensive. Nicole’s friend at the market told us today that very small storefronts are going for $4,000-$5,000 American dollars per month right now. We’re hoping to get something that will accommodate 20-30 people that we can rent for $500, or less, on a month-to-month basis to get started.
I know 20-30 people doesn’t sound like much, but that would be a very substantial biblical work here, and it looks like it could be a good while yet before the government will allow more than 30 people in a service anyway. Even now, a person needs an official letter from his church to present to the police to prove that he has permission to be at church and the Sunday curfew is 2:00pm (Afternoon!). The important thing right now is getting started. We’re ready to minister as a local church.
Please, therefore, make our finding the right place to meet at the right price a prayer priority. There are people we believe we’ll reach in a local church context that I don’t think we’ll reach otherwise because of the cultural context. Please pray that we will be having Sunday meetings when we report to you again next month.
John & Tammy Cooley