It is true that the bloodshed and accompanying fear and uneasiness among those living in the communities affected demand our urgent and earnest prayer. This is the church’s first response to any challenge within or without its walls. It is a powerful and effective tool given to us by God, and we greatly lack when we do not use it as we should.
The Bible beckons, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened,” (Matthew 7:7, 8).
However, it is God’s desire that we do something about our circumstances as well, rather than just pray and wait for an answer from Him. It is therefore commendable that some churches in the St Lucy area have come together to challenge their communities to a more productive lifestyle.
It is true that we need to revisit the old church outreach programmes of the past – be among the people of the community on a more regular basis, just as Jesus did. Having more open-air meetings is a good place to start; along with house to house visitations where we meet and pray with people – really getting to know their needs, their daily challenges, and how we as a church can help them in their struggles. This way, we get to truly know the communities we serve. Actually, it is a return to the doings of the first century church described in the Book of Acts.
Also, in an effort to counteract the block drug culture so prevalent in most Barbadian communities, we need to revisit the role of each community centre across Barbados. Each of them ought to become places of training in several disciplines. Of course, they already serve as gathering points for youth involved in sports. But perhaps, we need to also consider them as training centres where youth on the block in each community can be coached in various skills that can lead to employment such as auto mechanics, auto body repair, masonry, carpentry, plumbing, electronics, hairdressing, and cosmetology, just to name a few.
Youth with a knack for entrepreneurship should also be able to develop their skills under the tutelage of seasoned business practitioners. Therefore, each community centre can live up to its name and original purpose of being the “centre of the community.”
Of course, such a mammoth, national intervention calls for large sums of money! Perhaps, some of the skilled coaches can be persuaded to volunteer their services with the view of giving back to, and saving, the community. At any rate, the financial challenge must be overcome – even in the present austere situation in Barbados. For the downside of not achieving this initiative could mean losing many more of our youth to the drug culture, to crime, and to early deaths!
Finally, it would seem that the residents of Crab Hill are in favour of the recent 12-hour long operation by the police and defence force personnel in that district. Perhaps, there needs to be a police presence in all the “troubled” communities. Not necessarily with the same intensity – but on a continuous basis. And we, the residents, need to cooperate with the police and give them our full support when carrying out their patrols.
We, as a nation, must do everything possible to stamp out the rising gun violence, so that Barbados will always be a free and safe place to live.