Church's Prophetic VoiceMarch 02, 2014
Jamaican Baptist Union (JBU) recently held it annual General Assembly. A news release from JBU highlighted comments by the group's president, Luke Shaw (the photo is one I took of Shaw last summer at the Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering). His remarks address religious and political issues in his nation and the need for churches to be engage in society more. His remarks also also good reminders for Christians in the U.S. Here are a few highlights from the JBU release:
The Church, Rev. Shaw asserted, has its own special role to play. "The church in Jamaica is called to be the prophetic voice calling our people and nation to repentance even if we are ridiculed and pushed to the margin," he told the hundreds gathered at Boulevard Baptist Church in the parish of St. Andrew. "We must examine ourselves as members of the church of God, both individually and corporately, questioning whether or not we are people who declare faith but are devoid of its true expression."
He asked whether Christians remain unmoved "while we experience political, religious, social, moral, judicial and economic failure in our nation." He questioned why Christians remain silent while unemployment increases, and there is a climb in the incidents of crime, abuse of our children and elderly.
The church should assume leadership in confronting the nation’s ills, Rev. Shaw declared. "Who will cry out in compassion for justice denied, justice delayed in the lives of so many persons, families and communities in Jamaica? How long church! How long before we wake up!"
He said Baptists should draw on the legacy and history of past Baptist heroes and heroines such as "Sam Sharpe, George William Gordon, Mama Hall and many mothers and fathers in the faith to stir us on to greater works." Baptists "cannot sit at ease when our children are slaughtered, when human life has become cheapened in Jamaica and more and more persons become hopeless."Amen! During my time in Jamaica last summer, I was impressed to learn about the religious-political prophetic heritage of the Baptist community (especially the story of Sharpe, who I wrote about here and here). This message of an engaged gospel needs to be heard beyond just Jamaica.