On the second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World, he landed on the island of Jamaica, at a place now called Discovery Bay. When he returned to Spain and reported to Queen Isabella, he described the island by taking a piece of parchment and crumbling it up. Laying this on a table, he said that was what the island looked like. What a graphic way to describe the high mountains and the deep valleys of the island.
Jamaica was given to the Columbus family as a super large estate but was not settled until 1509. The Spanish settlers found a peaceful Indian tribe called the Arawaks whom they enslaved. After only 50 years the entire tribe was dead and gone into history due to the cruelty and hard work imposed by the conquerors.
In 1655 the English, commanded by Admiral Penn and General Venables, captured the island and it remained an English colony until 1962 when Jamaica became an independent nation and a part of the British Commonwealth.
The language spoken is English, but it is spoken with a patois dialect, which is a bit difficult to understand by new arrivals.
Jamaica is a tropical island with just two seasons… wet and dry. It is always warm, but most of the time it is just plain hot.
The population is over 95% black, ranging from dark black to pecan tan. The other 5% is composed of different nationalities from the four corners of the world.
Jamaica Christian Mission exists to promote the unity of the churches and to support their work.
Jamaica Christian Mission: Then…And Now
For many years, the only church in Jamaica was the Anglican Church. It is still the largest religious body, but it is losing ground because of the evangelistic fervor of other religious bodies. Jamaica is very much like Athens when the Apostle Paul visited there and found superstitious people, in the sense that they were ready to worship any false doctrine of deity that was placed before them.
The Church of Christ movement began in 1935 when the son of English people, Lt. C.V. Hall, who had been ordained and was serving the Congregational Church came to the conclusion that the church in the Bible was different than the one he served in. He soon left the Congregational body and began to establish congregations found after that in the New Testament. In the Mocho Mountains, in the parish of Clarendon, Brother Hall established a number of congregations, many of which remain today.
In 1938, answering an appeal for help, Mr. and Mrs. Luke Elliot came to the island and established a seminary at Mocho. This seminary stayed open only a brief time as the Second World War forced Mr. Elliot to return to America. In 1945, Mr. and Mrs. Elliot returned and reopened the seminary at Ewarton. By 1947 there were about 50 Churches of Christ and preaching places in Jamaica.
After a fruitful ministry, Luke Elliott left the island due to ill health. In 1950 his work was taken over by Donald and Maxine Fream, who were joined by Woodrow and Marjorie Phillips in 1951. During this same year a terrible hurricane hit the island and many church buildings were leveled or damaged.
In 1952 the seminary was moved to Kingston and a large tract of land was purchased in the Constant Springs area. Over the next few years over 30 students were trained. During 1954 the Grayson Ensign family entered the field and he soon established a weekly radio program.
Harold and Adele Hill arrived in 1955, returned to the States to raise support and came to Jamaica in early 1956. They soon established a Christian School and Harold attended the seminary to learn better the task of preaching the Word of God. In 1957 Fred and Vicky Hintz and their children arrived and settled in the Mandeville area, establishing a strong congregation that has continued to grow. In 1962 Harvey and Nancy Bacus entered the field. Later he became the Professor of Missions as Ozark Bible College.
The Hills were founders and directors of a Christian Preparatory School which served the children of Jamaica for more than 40 years. It was necessary to close the school at the end of the 1997. They also directed a summer Christian Camp which continues to serve the young people of Jamaica to this day. From that camp came the annual Youth Jamboree, which serves all the young people as a forum where they can learn to preach and lead. A Leaders Retreat is also held for older folks to provide them the opportunity to learn more of the Apostles doctrine.
The Mission also holds an annual Mid-Island Rally where most of the congregations come for the purpose of glorifying the Lord. Each Sunday, the men of the mission go all over the island serving the congregations as evangelists.
In 1988 the American Advisory Board for Jamaica Christian Mission was established. This board provides guidance and assistance for the spiritual growth of the mission, and they oversee general needs.
In 1994 Dr. Danny Gabbard, Minister with the First Christian Church of Cocoa, Fl. and member of the Advisory Board, presented the concept of opening a Bible College in Jamaica. In May 1995 this dream came true. With the spiritual and financial backing of the Church in Cocoa, Fl., and the approval of the Advisory board, he was named President of Jamaica Christian College. Dr. Gabbard resigned from the Board and the college in early 1998. Dr. Richard Gerringswald of Lakeland, FL became the new President. Many men from the island have attended this college since its beginning. Seminary and Bible College professors, as well as preachers and other leaders from across America volunteer their time and finances in order to come to Jamaica to teach at the college.
Early in 2001 Brother Harold Hill went to be with the Lord, following a lingering illness. While the loss of his leadership in the work on the island is great, the work continues under the leadership of the Advisory Board and the full-time mission staff, headed up by Brother Winston Scott, Administrator of the Mission. He is assisted by Deryck Williams, Accountant; Lester Thompson, Maintenance Engineer and Accountant Assistant; Randal Craig, Administrative Assistant; and Janice Mercy, Chef. Longtime housekeeper Geraldine Anderson passed away in 2005 after many years of faithful service to the mission and the various mission teams who passed through Kingston. Leslie Mitchell, after faithfully serving in ministry passed away in 2006.
The goal of the Jamaica Christian Mission is to change lives as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to build congregations with Christ-like members through:
- Continuing programs of camps, retreats, convention, and sports
- Strengthening partnerships with other Missions
- Establishing new congregations and strengthening existing ones
- Establishing new outreach programs
- Improving and expanding facilities at 1 Mannings Avenue in Kingston, Jamaica
- Increasing our presence as well as that of our congregations in the Jamaican landscape
- Sending Mission Teams to other parts of the world