Shadows come out for Groundhog Day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 5, 2000

First Assembly of God Pastor Lane Simmons and Children's Pastor John Hall recently made an evangelism trip to the island of Jamaica. They returned with a flag of the under-developed nation as a symbol of their trip and a reminder for the entire congregation to pray for the many people that live there.

Photo by Robert Blankenship

Many people are involved in helping spread Christianity and the word of God to others, but some of those are willing to travel much farther in order to get their message out.

Lane Simmons and John Hall, pastor and children's pastor respectively, of the First Assembly of God recently made such a trip to the island of Jamaica to evangelize and to help plan the construction of a church.

From the moment the two men arrived they began to see how people working together could help those who are less fortunate.

"When we arrived at Montego Bay we stayed one night at Christ for the Nations, a school that focuses on underprivileged people and helping them to find a way to get their lives back on track again," Simmons said.

After the first day in Montego Bay, the two men traveled farther inland to a church where they preached to a large number of Jamaicans every evening.

"When we left there we traveled by cab to Ochos Rios and went to the Four Square Church up in the hills and we remained there from Sunday morning until Wednesday evening. During that time we were involved in a lot of one-on-one witnessing," he said.

Hall said that once they left Montego Bay a new Jamaica began to show itself to the two travelers.

"The scenery was very attractive where all of the tourists are located. But, if you drive 10 to 15 miles away there is a lot of poverty. The government there does very little to help their people. Families have to live together to support one another and in some cases there were a very large number of people living in one small building," he said.

The idea to make the trip to Jamaica came when a contractor made a prolonged trip to Greenville and while here visited the First Assembly of God.

"The trip was made possible by Carl and Martha Hoffman of Birmingham who have a vision for missions and a burden for the lost. Carl was a contractor working here and they offered us the opportunity to take this trip," Simmons said.

During those days at the Four Square Church, Hall said

his traveling partner would preach for many hours, usually until about 11:30 p.m. On Thursday of that week they returned to Montego and Christ for the Nations. While there they met with a missionary from West Virginia who shared with them the plights of the Jamaican people as well as his vision to help spread the gospel.

"Tom Lantz took us to a town called Luce where he is in the process of trying to build a church. We visited with some of his parishioners and we were made aware of some of the living conditions for these people. He also took us to a school facility where they are having church presently. This makes it difficult to get into the church. He is presently training a Jamaican national on how to be a pastor and organize a church," Simmons said.

The missionary told the two Butler Countians about his plan to buy land and to build a church for his congregation.

"He explained to us that it was very hard for them to get access to the building that they are currently using and he took us to some property that he wants to purchase in order to build a church. He was looking at two acres of land for a total of $55,000 American dollars," he said.

Before leaving the island the two men were invited to come back by the mission and both said that they have every intention to do just that.

"We were offered an invitation to come back next year for a children's crusade and an evangelism outreach crusade and we plan to accept the invitation," Hall said.

The trip gave the two men a new appreciation for the comforts that all Americans enjoy and a great respect for those people who have been born into less fortunate circumstances.

"The one thing that impressed me most of all was meeting a people that were so appreciative of what little comforts they have. These are people who do not have the necessities of life, but are happy because they have each other," Hall said.

The men brought a Jamaican flag back with them as a symbol of their journey and a reminder for the people of their church to pray for the small, third-world nation.

"God showed me through this trip that he is concerned about people in these other nations that may not be as fortunate as Americans and I believe what made America great is our concern for other nations," Simmons said.