Local church brings hope to those in need

Published 11:36 pm Friday, July 16, 2010

Members of the Church of Christ at Canal Heights took a mission trip to Jamaica this month, and came home with a good feeling about what the mission accomplished.

The trip got off to a rough start, getting their airplane tickets mixed up and leaving not on the planned July 2 date, but leaving early on July 4.

“What we would have normally done over several days, on Sunday, we did all of our shopping for supplies, and on Monday, the work started,” said Justin Paschall, the minister at the church.

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“We actually went out into two areas. There is the Highgate area, where we normally go, and we went into another area called Benbo. We worked both of those areas Monday through Friday (July 5-9).”

The Demopolis church made the trip with other Churches of Christ, including congregations in Elmore, Ala., and Elijay, Ga. The mission was to provide spiritual comfort to the poor and destitute in those areas of Jamaica. While the country is known for its resorts, much of the population is poor, living without hope in the shadow of luxury.

“The work that we did there involved going out and inviting people to the crusade at night,” Paschall said. “We would have worship services at night. We studied the Bible with a lot of people and actually helped a few of the families, one needed building supplies, and we helped with food and other things.

“We had five baptisms over the course of the five days. The highest attendance — we had over 300 present one night, which is the most that has ever been in that building.”

Paschall said that it was cooler in Jamaica than it was in Alabama, which he said was rare, and that it rained most of the time that they were in Jamaica.

“All in all, despite the hiccups at the beginning with the travel arrangements, we got there and accomplished what we wanted to,” he said. “It ended up being a really good trip.

“One of the most memorable nights, about 30 people came forward during the invitation song. We counted 30, and there were still people coming forward. That was pretty amazing to see, because you don’t see that on a regular basis, at least in the United States!”

Although the trip did not improve the economic conditions for the poor of Jamaica, it did improve the spiritual conditions for many of the people.

“We’re looking forward to making the trip again next year,” Paschall said. “A lot of others who went with us feel the same way.”