Lara Pickford-Gordon firstname.lastname@example.org
Think of the persons who are eccentric or weird or who raise your blood pressure and get you ‘vex’ (angry); the persons who when they walk into a room you feel to leave. These, the “least of our brothers”, are the ones you are called to love, said Deacon Sheldon Narine.
He was the featured speaker at the St Anthony’s Petit Valley Parish outreach crusade which began April 8 at the Valley Harps Pan Yard, Morne Coco, Petit Valley.
Deacon Narine’s talk was based on Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”. Living Christianity is not easy but it calls for Christians to help people in need and show mercy because the Church is a “mother of mercy” in which all are welcome—prostitutes, criminals, vagrants, homosexuals.
Narine said, “You never know when God will turn around their lives…That is why we should not judge; we should not condemn; we should not criticise; and we should not bad talk people.” He likened the criticisms targeted at others to the crowd gathered to stone the woman caught in adultery. “You pick up the big stone again, ready to pelt, and say according to the law that person should not be in church,” he commented. “Our greatest temptation is spiritual pride.”
Narine said for many years Christians have become comfortable with coming to church and going through the motions and rituals but lacking genuine care. “We are nice people but we are not kind people. And the Lord Jesus is challenging us to be kind…because when you are nice for show it is very superficial, there is no caring, no concern; there is no change.”
Deacon Narine encouraged Christians to “mature” in their Christianity and change the world through their love and mercy. Each person is important to God and Christians have a responsibility to bring others to know Jesus, not to condemn. “Everybody who comes into your life comes for a reason or purpose and they must leave your life in a better way,” he said.
Narine mentioned Abraham, Moses, David, Sampson, Jonah, St Paul, the woman at the well all humans who had disobeyed God, but they were not condemned. They had a purpose. Jesus gave the best example of friendship because he was a friend to everyone and he also spoke out, never condoning wrongdoing. Christians are called not to compromise their values if they saw things happening in their communities like child abuse, domestic violence, racism and illicit drugs being promoted. Narine said, “Satan loves it when we say we don’t want to get involved: ‘it is just me and my God and I am praying to my God every day’.”
To fulfil the new commandment to ‘love one another’, the man and woman of God must stand up and try to intervene where there is suffering and injustice.
“Once you respond in that mature way, the power of God comes upon you. Once you do what is right and you generally try to follow God, God will equip you,” Deacon Narine said.
The deacon, known also as the ‘Crazy Catholic” in comedy had members of the audience greet each other and smile. “Many people cannot smile, cannot laugh because they do not know Jesus…We are all ambassadors for Jesus. No screw face, no swell-up face, no frowning…”
The crusade started with the NLCB Valley Harps Steel Orchestra playing Gospel songs. It continued to April 12, with Archbishop Jason Gordon celebrating Mass.