Lord You Are Merciful: Twenty One Years and Still Struggling
Twenty-one years after the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted decimating the population and scattering the people of Montserrat over the entire world, Montserratians continue to give thanks.
The 2016 National Service of Thanksgiving was held at the Faith Tabernacle Church in Brades under the theme ‘You Are Merciful’, organised by the Montserrat Christian Council (MCC) and attended by representatives from the Christian community.
Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo expressed his thankfulness to God and brought greetings on behalf of his government. According to him, he is seeing the evidence that “All things work together for them that love God.” He referred to many of the things that Montserrat had lost, to include 75% of our people – some of our best fishermen, farmers, police, doctors (not all) and declared that God was going to restore and heal the country. “I foresee” he said, “that God will bring back to us, persons who would have never had the chance to study and get the qualifications they have; qualifications we will need in a new Montserrat, in a new modern economy … God will bring blessings from this. … Our worst enemy, the volcano, will one day be our best friend”. His parting request was the people pray “that the eyes of the people will be opened to the hand of God being so kind and loving to us amidst all the negatives, and that we as a people will one day come in larger numbers to give thanks to Him for His goodness.”
Pastor Kellar Mc Farlane of the Wesleyan Holiness Church and chair of the MCC the main speaker, made a passionate plea for Montserratians to return to godliness. She reminded the audience in the sanctuary, as well as those in radio land and those listening via the internet that we serve a God who is merciful; that things could have been a lot worse and it is because of God’s mercies that we are not consumed. She encouraged them to give to God thanks every morning, and to return to him what belongs to Him. God, she said has a purpose for everything which they have endured. She reminded the audience that they are a resilient people and the fact that they were gathered there is a testimony that God’s grace and mercy has brought them through. She urged them not to boast in their accomplishments, but to recognise that they are a gift from God.
In light of the ills in society, she issued the call “Let there be light in our society.” She appealed to spouses to be faithful to their marital vows; for parents to take up their God given responsibility of training their children; and to all sectors of society to work together. She concluded by stressing that “We want the land to be filled with our Father’s glory”.
Chairperson Bishop Dr Melroy Meade reflected that twenty-one years had passed and we are still struggling. The age of twenty-one (21) he said, suggests maturity, and we should be taking care of our own business; however, despite all that had transpired, “we have come this far by faith”. He called upon Pastor Sherwin White of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to offer a prayer of re-dedication. Pastor Sherwin White declared on the authority of God that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to all people”! He implored God to continue to bless the island of Montserrat, that the people would put aside differences, that there would be faithfulness in execution of our duties and a return to primitive godliness. He appealed to God to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive them.
At the closing, the audience was invited by Fr Mark Schramm to take a moment for reflection before he offered the Benediction.