Family, Children and Adolescent Ministries Director of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Dr. Lorraine Vernal is appealing to the church community to report criminal and abusive violation to help put an end to the various vices affecting Jamaica.
“We live in a Jamaica where this week (last Thursday) a young woman was raped and burnt near to her home and although she was crying rape and persons heard she died a grueling death,” said Vernal as she addressed Family & #EndItNow Conference at the Kencot Seventh-day Adventists Church in Kingston on Saturday, August 25, 2018.
Vernal argued that although it is an uncomfortable subject for many people it has become more and more obvious that abuse is a serious problem for Christians including Seventh-day Adventists.
“I ask that when we are made aware of any such atrocities the response cannot be about saving the job or reputation of the perpetrator. Do not sacrifice our children and youth for somebody’s job or reputation. Do not cause them to feel guilty about talking about things that hurt them or make them uncomfortable. Do not pass judgement such as “is play he/she was playing” when you didn’t investigate. Report the cases. Do not worry about “informer fi dead” because we can make reports anonymously,” she pleaded.
In reference to the sometimes common notion that the abuser are always males, Vernal warned, “Don’t laugh when our men and boys are victims of abuse. No abuse is funny. When a woman abuses a male it is not cute or okay.”
She emphasized that as leaders, the church must see attacks on children, adolescents and adults as evil and so it (the church) must live ethically and pay attention in making their homes, churches and other institutions safe places for everyone especially the young.
“We are resolute in our stance about breaking the silence associated with abuse and violence. Not only do we encourage all citizens to be advocates but we offer our expertise in helping victims and perpetrators,” Vernal added.
Support the fight against human trafficking
Also addressing the conference was Mrs. Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, who also challenged the Church to do its part in ending crime, abuse and human trafficking.
“I want to charge the Church firstly with recognizing that it has responsibility for the welfare of our young people. We need to ensure that all persons who relate to young people including their parents, care for young people. We want the Church to get involve in what we are doing…advocate for the dignity and sanctity of every human life. Ensure that it’s a top priority of the Church is for the care and welfare of children.”
“Secondly, I am inviting the Church to partner with us as it relates to human trafficking. I am being told many times that if you want to know where you are in Jamaica you should look for an Adventists sign, so I want you to help us to get the message in every “nook and cranny” of Jamaica to end trafficking in person. Help us to raise awareness in each of your congregation.
According to a 2018 International Labour Organization Report, the trafficking in person is now worth more than US$300 billion.