There are so many testimonies; we cannot begin to tell them all.
By Phil and Michele Edwards
For many years, well-wishers have been taking food packages, money, furnishings, and clothing to a largely uneducated and unskilled community in the Clifton Hall, St. John community. They gladly accept it all—but nothing changes. They wake up day after day, wondering what they will find to feed their children and themselves. Is there any wonder they weigh heavy on Father God’s heart?
We have heard the call to serve this people group in Barbados with more than just material supplies. Jesus has shown us how He longs for them to come to Him, be restored and live more abundantly!
This call from the Lord has been in formation for many years. After serving with the DOVE church The Living Room (TLR) since it started, we went on a mission trip to Haiti in in 2010. Phil provided the farmers with much needed information on crop diversification as Michele assisted the medical team. Phil returned to Haiti on several more trips over the next few years providing much needed coaching, fishing boats and tackle for the fishermen and agricultural techniques, tools, and seeds for the farmers.
When Impact World started planning their 2018 campaign, I joined the team. This led me to outreaches in the rural parish of St. John. We were then sent by The Living Room (DOVE church) to reach out to those living far under the poverty line. The team included ourselves, another couple and three single ladies, all from TLR. The work officially became a DOVE church plant “Love Like Jesus” in late 2019. We are still on a journey of loving like Jesus. We have seen many glimpses of God’s glory along the way.
When we started serving the community, Jesus answered prayers fast! It was initially difficult to engage the young men who were looking in on our meetings. But we followed the 3-step opening questions suggested by the Impact World Discipleship program: What are you thankful for? Are there any areas you think we can help? Are you interested in knowing the One that can help? Readily they all said, “We need jobs and skills training.” We told them we didn’t have the power to give them either but knew who did! We prayed. God answered immediately. First one young man got a job, then another and then another and one of the teenage girls got a permanent placing too! Our faith soared!
The room became too cramped, so one man said we could meet in his tiny front yard which had a fenced off front to the road. It was safe there. He proceeded not long after, without us asking, to pave the area and build a garden bench for us to sit on. This same man is very gifted with plants and gardening and has a delightful garden. Members of the team have provided him with pots, soil, fertilizer, and plant cuttings so that he can now grow small plants to sell.
His sister has been encouraged to start a small sewing business. LLJ team members donated a sewing machine and over time provide her with all the supplies for making handbags. One among us lovingly gave of her time and expertise to teach her how to make the handbags! She has now been getting large orders. Glory glimpse again!
There are so many similar testimonies; we cannot begin to tell them all. People who were filled with envy, jealousy, mistrust for each other and strangers like us are slowly opening up to the love they are experiencing. Children run out of their houses to give us hugs on arrival. Adults text and call us. Men and women are praying for each other. One older gentleman has asked to preach twice, and delivered great messages each time. Wilson is very hard of hearing but with the help of hearing aids that members of the team thoughtfully obtained for him, he is now able to hear the worship songs and the preached Word! Many have given their lives to the Lord and have been baptized in water.
We have seen many glimpses of glory at work. Through the setbacks and disappointments, we have learnt so much about ourselves, about leadership and about loving like Jesus!
During the recent shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to keep in touch with the families by phone and deliver food packages weekly.
We are serious about raising another leader from within the group who will take care of this church in the future, even as we become coaches and move on to the next assignment God has in store for us.
Each miracle brings us a step closer to community transformation and the entire team is undergoing personal transformation as well. The Glory of the Lord is falling all around in Clifton Hall!
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About Phil and Michele Edwards
Phil and Michele, married for forty-one years, have a professional background in shipping/agriculture and nursing/automotive industry respectively. They are founding members of the DOVE partner church, the Living Room, Barbados. They now lead the church plant there, Love Like Jesus.