A church on every corner. The second highest murder rate in the Western Hemisphere. . . . A description of America? No, Jamaica.
Ever since AiG board member Carl Kerby visited this tiny Caribbean island in 1998 (see “Jamaica—Vacation or Evangelism?”), our ministry has felt a great burden to reach this beautiful, troubled nation with the gospel. Dr Terry Mortenson just returned from a trip there, and he gives an encouraging report about AiG’s ongoing “experiment in creation evangelism.”
Same Problem . . .
Jamaica is a perfect testing ground for the problems that the church faces in every nation. A British colony for over 300 years, this island enjoyed a flourishing church and all the “benefits” of Western culture. In fact, this self-proclaimed “Christian nation” has more churches per square mile than any other nation on earth.
So why is the murder rate so high? Why all the drugs and violence?
In country after country, our international outreach has heard the same sorts of testimonies about collapsing morals and rising evil. Terry discovered,
While I was there (just two weeks) 15 people were murdered, three of them police officers. Drug lords use Jamaica as a conduit for getting drugs into the USA. There are more murders in Jamaica (population of 2.5 million) each year than in the city of Chicago (11 million). Most homes, even very modest ones, have iron grating over all the doors and windows. Many of the churches do, too. The country has the potential to erupt in chaos like Haiti has.
It is very sad to see the fruits of so much unbridled sin. The only hope is the gospel, but as in so many other countries, so much of the church is riddled with unbelief or biblical illiteracy and shallow emotionalism, that it cannot effectively and convincingly present the gospel to an increasingly pagan culture that has a veneer of religiosity.
Many Christians complain that nobody is listening to the gospel anymore, and they’re not having an impact. Terry heard several stories of wrecked faith on his trip.
After services at one church, a mother told me her daughter used to go to the church but because of her university studies no longer will come to church.
At the same church, a man told me that his son, who’s studying in England to prepare for university, is learning things that have caused him to doubt his faith. His dad and mom did not have answers. But that morning they bought the Answers Book and Refuting Evolution, and the dad is going to England on business soon and will give them to him.
While the church pretends that Genesis and six-day creation don’t matter (see “The Necessity for Believing in Six Literal Days”), young people go off to school, hear the claims of evolution and a fossil “record of death” over millions of years, and leave the church.
The challenge is heightened by teachers within the church who undermine people’s faith in the historical foundation of the gospel in Genesis, while they attempt to share the good news from the New Testament.
. . . Same Answers
Just as we find in the UK, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand (where AiG has separate offices), countries like Jamaica have the same basic needs—and solution. “Jamaican culture is brainwashed with evolution, just like everywhere else,” Terry found. “Even while I ironed my shirt on Saturday morning, I heard it laced into the children’s cartoons on TV.”
It’s not enough to attack the symptoms of moral collapse, such as divorce, drugs and school violence (rampant in Jamaica). We need to address the heart of the problem. The greatest lie of our generation is belief in a history of death over millions of years, a false teaching that directly contradicts the plain teaching of the Bible.If people can’t believe the Bible’s message about the historical origin of sin, why should they believe the Bible’s message about morality and the need for restoration through Christ, which are also based in history? The evolution versus creation controversy is really a conflict between two histories of death.
The solution is “creation evangelism”—taking people back to Genesis to establish that God is the creator, His Word is literally true, and Adam’s sin is responsible for the death we see in the world.
It’s slow work, rebuilding the foundation of a nation that has been wrecked by shallow church teaching and compromise. Ken Ham, president of AiG-US, likes to call this “pre-evangelism,” clearing out the brush and weeds that choke the seed, so that the gospel has “good ground” in which to thrive. (See “Road Work Ahead.”)
AiG’s efforts at creation evangelism in Jamaica have taken several forms over the years. For instance, we’ve provided hundreds of free books and materials to pastors and leaders, including one special young pastor named Devon Linton, who is on fire to preach the creation message throughout Jamaica and saturate the country with AiG literature. Moreover, AiG speaker Carl Kerby has returned to the island four times, and in 2001, he joined Ken Ham at an exciting pastors training conference, all at AiG expense (made possible by generous donations of like-minded Christians).1
Dr Mortenson continued the work during his recent trip. In two weeks, he gave 31 talks, speaking at a Bible college, a seminary and two churches.
Teaching Teachers the Truth
Most of Terry’s time was spent teaching a modular apologetics course to 10 teachable students at Fairview Baptist Bible College, west of Montego Bay. Unfortunately, many Jamaicans are poorly educated because school is only compulsory through 6th grade, so pastors in rural areas have the additional challenge of building biblical literacy and spiritual maturity. The Bible College plays an important role in training young Christian leaders.
Four Great Truths
Terry also had an opportunity to record four radio programs. Given such a limited opportunity to make an impact, what should he talk about? Terry chose these topics:
- Did God create in six days or over millions of years? (Find the answer.)
- Why is there suffering and death in the world? (Find the answer.)
- Who was Cain’s wife? (Find the answer.)
- Dinosaurs and the Bible (Find the answer.)
“These questions are at the core of AiG’s mission,” Terry explained. “I found that they’re just as intriguing to Jamaicans as they are to other people, because they get at the heart of what it means to believe the Bible in this scientific age. In fact, the radio station’s technician, who recorded me, requested a copy of the tapes as I was leaving. I pray that many people will call the Bible College for more information when the programs are aired next month.”
Training Laymen, Pastors, and Future Missionaries
After Terry’s talks at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Kingston on three subjects, many people told him afterwards that it had greatly encouraged their faith in God’s Word. One man in his thirties eagerly remarked, “Thank you very much. You answered so many questions I had in my mind.”
The pastor said that the talks were helpful to him personally, especially to see how the idea of millions of years came from godless, anti-biblical men in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.2 When Terry spoke at the Jamaica Theological Seminary and Caribbean Graduate School of Theology (CGST) in Kingston, Terry said of one bright, appreciative young man who bought several books, “He told me that before I spoke he had basically thought it was okay to accept the millions of years but afterwards he clearly saw that he cannot do this. He has a passion for medical missions, and now he sees the foundational importance of Genesis.”
An older woman at the CGST meeting was, until recently, the head doctor at a pediatrics hospital in Kingston. She still has many contacts at the University of the West Indies. She was very appreciative of Terry’s lectures and very burdened to have the same topics presented on campus.
The president of CGST was very interested in having Terry come back to teach more on apologetics and creation.
In addition to the beauty of the blue ocean and the white sandy beaches, Terry found the people very friendly and hospitable.
Obviously the culture was a bit different. Though everyone speaks English, the accent was difficult for him to pick up. But recognizing the culture’s problems—and explaining the solutions from Genesis—crosses all cultural barriers.
Terry found it easy to get this message across. He vividly recalls one example: “At one of the churches where I spoke, a girl from the university came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I have so many questions related to what you spoke about. This is just what I needed to hear.”’She also bought several resource books.
That’s what creation evangelism is all about—reaching people one at a time, with a personal contact, and leaving materials for people to study and hand on to others.
Thanks for your prayer and financial support to help make such ministry trips possible. Your support helps AiG to continue such “experiments in creation evangelism,” which include translation projects in several languages, as well as unique missions projects like to the upcoming Summer Olympics outreach in Athens.
We trust that Christians in every country will take up the challenge to share the creation/gospel message—and distribute Bible-upholding, low-cost materials that will answer the crying needs of our day!