The following is a talk Nicholas Brathwaite gave at the South Bay Community Church in Fremont, CA on September 16, 2012.
Over the past few years, I have had the honor and pleasure of working with Pastor Long on a number of initiatives aimed at improving underserved communities by directly impacting the lives of people who have no resources and very little hope.
Pastor Long is a true ambassador of the Kingdom of God and continues to demonstrate his commitment and dedication to serving the poor and marginalized whether here or elsewhere.
Having the opportunity to hang around him has strengthened my commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.
Grenada is a small island nation in the Southern Caribbean with a population of just over 100,000 people. It is a poor country where the unemployment rate is about 30%. But, among young people, the unemployment rate is even higher at around 40%. This means that 4 out of every 10 young people who want to work cannot find a job. This does not include people who have given up looking for a job. It should be noted also that even a large percentage of people with jobs, barely make enough to survive. In some of the poorer villages, therefore, there is a sense of hopelessness.
I was born in Grenada. Pastor Long, Janice and I decided to start a Foundation to work in the poorest villages because we believe that if we could impact the lives of individuals and help them improve their communities we can help to change the world. Several of our friends, including my friend Lauriston Hosten in Grenada, have joined our board and are helping to lead some of our initiatives. These include a few members of this church - Jennifer Clay, Michelle Lewis and Ruby Long.
This church has been a great source of support and encouragement and we are making a difference. Pastor Long and I have been traveling to Grenada 2 - 3 times a year to teach classes in Leadership. One of the challenges facing many less developed countries (and even some of the more developed ones) is a lack of effective leadership. There are lots of people with either the skill or the character but very few who have both the skill and character to be effective leaders.
We believe that this investment in leadership education will help develop leaders who can help change their communities. About 50 individuals, including church leaders, business leaders and government technocrats are participating in these classes. In addition to participating in our classes, they have also been teaching what they learn to others. So far these 50 individuals have taught an additional 150 others. Can you imagine the influence we can have on the world, if one day, we end up with political and other leaders around the world having been directly impacted by the activities of our church?
Pastor Long has become a mentor to pastors of several churches and is starting an on-line theological training program to help develop pastors and other church leaders. We have adopted one of the "statistically" poorest villages on the island and have provided full scholarships to some young people in that village to pursue undergraduate degrees. We are now financing a couple of those individuals in master's programs.
We adopted an elementary school in another village where we were told that a large percentage of the students have not been going on to high school. We found out that many of these students were going to school hungry and could not afford school books. We are now financing a meals program for the students and we provide finances to purchase books for about 25% of the students in that school. Through the support of members of this church, we have also donated computers, books and Kindle readers to that elementary school. In total, we have provided about 85 computers to schools, poor families and a homework center where young people can go to get help with homework.
We helped to financed the initial implementation of a dental care program involving New York University's School of Dentistry. More than 2 dozen dentists from New York University have been traveling to Grenada to provide free dental care, primarily to children but also to adults. We have, so far, provided free dental services to over 1,200 poor children, many of whom, had never been to a dentist before.
We have been building, repairing and painting homes. We built a modest home for one elderly lady and repaired the home of a grand mother who is raising her grand children. We have now started a program to repair and paint the homes of several elderly people in another village.
Through your generosity, we have donated clothes to families and in partnership with Crocs, we have provided brand new shoes to about 1,400 individuals.
In September 2013, in partnership with a Canadian Ivy League University, we are initiating a full scholarship program with that school. This will include, tuition, housing, books and other expenses. This scholarship is valued at about $40K to $50K per year, per student.
We are working on other similar initiatives with other universities.
This is a small example of how God can use a ripple to create great waves.
Sometimes all it takes is for us to accept the call to serve and get started.
Once again, please accept our sincere appreciation for your generosity, support and prayers. Through your support, many are being blessed.
Thank you all for allowing God to use this church as an instrument of His
Love and Blessings.