Seventy-two hours of prayer and reflection in response to the recent spate of crime and violence that led to Barbadians seeing red in January started today with a powerful worship and prayer session being held at the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Warrens offices.
Following a minute of silence at 12 p.m., members of the Ministry engaged in just over an hour of praying and singing.
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde said the nine murders four of which were gun-related, over a dozen shootings and half a dozen stabbings, recorded in January, had much to do with a major shift in culture and values in society.
During her passionate remarks, Minister Forde said traditional Barbadian values and family structures have been disappearing from society.
Forde said too many people had “raped” the villages that raised them because of their upward social mobility, and had failed to peep back at where they came from.
“And we see great-nephews and nieces and distant relatives fall into crime and violence and sometimes we are so afraid to let down the car windows, as though the car windows and the cars are bulletproof anyhow.
“To say to them stop now. I do it every day. Within the last week, I have lost three young men, I worked with them to the best of my ability and some were even Scouts so you know they had a foundation. But the negativity and the get rich or die mentality has taken them away from us . . . But I am begging you, do not give up the fight, all is not lost.
“I ask the youth and the other wicked ones among us, men and women as well, to lay down the arms and pick up the word of God, and speak it in volumes wherever you go,” Forde said.
Minister Forde said the decision was made to spread the prayer over a course of three days to accommodate the worship traditions of all denominations, as she urged all religious groups to play their roles in contributing to the national effort.
“There is nothing more painful to know that up until last night, 44 lives had been lost [in Trinidad and Tobago], inclusive of three senior citizens. It says the wave of crime and violence is sweeping across the world and we are not going to be separated from it.
“But we have got a foundation already that is steeped in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must not let up, we must not be afraid to speak out. We must keep the faith, keep the foundation and keep that moral fabric,” Forde said.
Meanwhile, second vice-president of the Barbados Evangelical Association, Pastor Patrick Drakes, who delivered the sermon called on Government to exercise its power to address the issue of crime and violence in society.
“The institutions must do their jobs, the lawyers have their work to do, but the state must also do its work, so we have got to engage them in measures that send a very strong signal to those who believe that we can now have a government within the government,” Drakes said.
The man of God who prayed for peace to reign on the island noted that it was a process that would take time.