The Best Week of the Year

“This week is the most meaningful week of my entire year.” That’s what my friend Brian says each time he and I join others from The Crossing on a one week mission trip to Harmons, Jamaica. I have to agree that it’s a pretty special time and one that is very different from the other 51 weeks of my year.

What makes it special is not the weather (it is very hot and humid and there is no air conditioning) or the accommodations (bunk houses with no A/C and only one, two-minute cold shower a day) but that you get to work alongside people from The Crossing and make a real difference in people’s lives. This week I’ll share part of the big picture and then next week more details on what we did.

The Big Picture
Harmons, located in the interior of the island, became a haven for runaway slaves during the British occupation. It is devastatingly poor. Third world poverty is unlike much of what I’ve seen in our country.

We are part of a small mission group called Won by One that has been in the area for almost 20 years. Their continued presence for two decades has created an environment of trust between the community and the visiting Americans. It has also allowed real and lasting change to come to the area. Won by One is a great partner because they have the right vision for ministry–a vision that enables people to help themselves and promotes their human dignity instead of dependence.

The visiting American teams help create jobs for Jamaicans in an area with very few employment opportunities. And when the Americans work, we always labor alongside Jamaicans.

The heart of Won by One’s economic and mercy ministry is building houses. Our team built 2 houses (a 10 x 15 concrete room with 2 doors and 2 windows) and two foundations.

Within the past few years they’ve constructed three greenhouses that grow vegetables that can be sold on the island creating revenue and jobs.

Like the greenhouses, the fisheries produce a product that can be sold.

Thrift Store
Each American brings two suitcases of donated clothing and personal supplies that are sold very inexpensively in a thrift store run by three Jamaica women.

About two years ago, Won by One hired a Jamaican pastor, Clinton, to plant a church in the community. It’s pretty amazing to meet people who have come to faith in Christ and now attend the church. The Crossing is one of Clinton’s financial supporters and recently gave a sizable donation that will allow him to purchase basic music equipment.

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