The emotional and riveting testimony of a Dominican student living in Barbados after surviving Hurricane Maria, was the highlight of the inaugural Children’s Rally this morning.
The rally formed part of the National Prayer Festival staged at the Abundant Life Assembly, Bank Hall, St Michael where more than 200 students from 11 primary and secondary schools gathered.
“We couldn’t hold a prayer festival for the nation without including our school children,” coordinator of the event, Senator Rev David Durant told Barbados TODAY.
He said the event was important to ensure the youngsters had a solid moral foundation, given the challenges of drug abuse, gun violence and peer pressure they faced daily.
However, it was the impactful words of strength from Dominican Michelle Jean-Jacques that reinforced the message of prayer and faith to the students.
Jean-Jacques insisted it was God who spared her life during the passage of Hurricane Maria last month.
The 19-year-old-student from Copt Hall, St George, Dominica, has temporarily relocated to Barbados to complete her studies. She recalled that on the night of the hurricane, she was hunkered down at home with her parents and from all accounts, expected a Category 1 or 2 cyclone.
However, in a matter of hours, Maria became a Category 5 system with winds of more than 180 miles per hour. It tore the roof from Jean-Jacques’ home.
“After the eye passed and we were on the other side of the hurricane . . . that was the worse . . . . My mum and I were in the kitchen to protect ourselves and that started to go so we had to run to the living room because my mum said that was the safest room.
“While in the living room we heard the roof start shaking . . . . I screamed ‘mummy we can’t stay here’ and we went under the bed. And we stayed there for over three hours with the rain falling and soaking the mattress.
“During the storm we were praying, thanking God for life because even though we lost our earthly possessions, at the end of it all, we are grateful that we had life and we prayed and had a worship session.
“I am extremely grateful God kept us alive and I believe it is because He had a purpose for my life,” Jean-Jacques told fellow students.
Meanwhile, Durant told Barbados TODAY: “This service is more of a motivational guide to inspire the students, to encourage . . . to strengthen them and to be a blessing to them. It is also intended to prayer for them, to bless them and their teachers.
“We feel it is so important to have them as part of any prayer initiative that we have in this nation. We need to cover them. We need to trust God to protect them,” Durant added.
During the two-hour programme students were given the opportunity to go on stage and sing choruses, offer words of inspiration or prayers.
It also featured the group Nefarious Dancers. Though known for its secular performances, the young men showed versatility in keeping with the tone of the event.
Meantime, Durant expressed satisfaction with the response to the initiative, which was almost aborted due to administrative hiccups.
“Although it came out late, we were able to gather 11 schools here and over 200 students and this is just the inaugural [event]. After this is finished we will be [looking to] next year so we will have more time to plan this and to execute it with a greater excellence,” he noted.
The festival ends on Sunday.