A coordinated approach to providing services for people in need of food or shelter, has proven to be an effective method for reaching vulnerable populations. When a non-profit organization on St. Croix sought a partner to implement its social programs, the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church agreed to lend a hand. Together, the Lighthouse Mission and the Peter’s Rest SDA Church supply nutritious meals to any homeless, hopeless or helpless resident in the town of Christiansted.
The Lighthouse Mission is described as a faith-based, community service center which is committed to enriching the lives of people by serving, encouraging, teaching and challenging children and adults, alike, to find meaning and purpose in life - through faith. The Mission once provided a haven, with after-school activities, for children. That service has been discontinued, pending a refurbishment of the building, which was affected by hurricanes, in 2017. The Lighthouse Mission, located at the corner of Times Square in Christiansted, touches many people through its programs of compassion.
“We praise the Lord for the partnership we have with the community. It’s great to share the space, to make a difference in the community,” said Pastor Abraham Kennedy, Pastor of the Southgate Baptist Church, on St. Croix, and manager of the Lighthouse Mission. “I have been here for 13 years, and the Lighthouse has been around for 27 years. It is a common ground for people to come around and share ministry.”
When Pastor Earl Daniel, former pastor of the Peter’s Rest SDA Church who is retired from denominational work, requested approval from the Church Board for the partnership, the Church Board agreed, unanimously. Pastor Daniel added, “You could sense the Holy Spirit in the room, in that board meeting. How could we not serve the community?”
Dr. Henry Peters, Sabbath School Director of the North Caribbean Conference, was pleased with the enthusiastic response of the local church. He expressed, “The church must respond to the needs of people in the community…we must be a good, cooperative citizen. Jesus has commissioned us to care for each other. This initiative is a prime example of how Jesus ministered while He was on earth. Jesus ministered to people’s needs and loved them before He shared the Word with them.”
Sister Lillian Jeffers is the Sabbath School Leader at the Peter’s Rest SDA Church. She formerly volunteered at the Lighthouse Mission before the partnership began with the SDA Church, in August, 2021. She stated, “For the past two years … I have personally volunteered at the Lighthouse when I lost my job in 2020. It’s very gratifying to have my church come alongside this ministry… We serve 20 to 30 meals whenever we go – sometimes more. The church is assigned the second and fourth Sundays, every month. The people who look forward to the hot meal, frequent the Christiansted town area, sleeping wherever they can lay their heads. When they come in the morning, you can see they are not rested."
Sister Kathleen O’Garro is a Youth Ministries Leader at the Peter’s Rest SDA Church. As a motivational presenter, she inspires young people to give back to the community, that nurtured their development. Sister O’Garro shared, “It’s been a tremendous blessing to our church. We are experiencing what it means to be part of a caring community.”
During the Global Youth Day activities in March, 2022, a group of young people selected the Lighthouse Mission as their center for service. They were accompanied by Dr. Vincent A. David, the Youth and Chaplaincy Director of the North Caribbean Conference.
“We desire to have the children exposed to real life situations,” said Sister Jeffers. “As such, we encourage parents to bring their children along for the ministry opportunity. It is good to see happy faces on those who come to the center and receive help. It indicates what we should be doing in our community.” She commended Brother Phil Rogers and Sister Servet Rogers who model family ministry and bring their daughter, Ghaliya, along with them to serve.
The First Elder of the congregation, Elder Herman Ravariere, elaborated, “Partnerships with other community organizations are key, and I think it’s something that Adventists have been deficient in, for a long time. We’re now [building those relationships]. If anyone of us walk down the street and see the people, they know us. These connections are wonderful. It tells people that, ‘Hey, the Adventists do care!’”
Members of the SDA Church engage in hands-on ministry, weekly, as they prepare and serve meals. They have also been forging bonds of friendships with program participants. “We would like to end homelessness; we know that’s not going to happen,” Sister Lillian Jeffers said. “But we’re going to take a big bite out of it.” Those who enjoy the hearty meals, also attend the religious services hosted by the church in a nearby pavilion, whenever the church is assigned the ministry opportunity.