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Jamaica, Usain Bolt and Christ
published: Thursday | August 21, 2008

Richard Ho Lung - Diary of a ghetto priest

In recent years, it seems that so many reporters and secularists enjoy bashing the church. Yet, it seems that the Christian churches have brought forth over the centuries a nation that is warm-hearted, civilised and educated. It is only in recent times, with the push towards hedonism, materialism and individualism, that our Christianity and nationhood are being threatened.

There is no more beautiful a national anthem than that of Jamaica's. It is a prayer with a majestic melody and lyrics written by the Rev Hugh Sherlock; it stirs the heart each time we sing it, "Eternal Father, bless our land, guide us with Thy mighty hand."

A prayer

Even as other anthems praise its countries and heroes, and some seek to remove God from their anthems, Jamaica's anthem remains a prayer to the eternal Father.

If we remove our nation Jamaica from the protection of our Heavenly Father, we will be on our own, disowned by God Himself.

Running with the Lord

As Usain Bolt prepared for his 100-metre race in Beijing, China, he gave clear testimony to the Lord. Many athletes, indeed, made a sign of the cross before their performances. Usain, however, placed the crucifix to his lips, and definitively made the sign of the cross. And he ran with the Lord and under the power of the Lord, driven by the power of the Lord.

And what of our three magnificent young women? Wasn't it a twist of God's working that never before has there been three women of the same nation (and such a tiny nation) winning a gold and two silvers in the most prestigious of Olympic events? Jamaica gave birth to triplets the very next day of Bolt's victory for the whole world to see. And, the success and happiness of each one was written over all their faces: Shelly-Ann Fraser, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart. They wrapped themselves with Jamaican flags, and warmed themselves with the crowd's acclamation of their great achievement.

Yet on this day, on Hanover Street, as I worked in my office, a loud crash could be heard of a vehicle impacting a human body. Immediately, the brothers rushed out of the gate. An old man, 60 years or so, named Harry, was plowed into by a car which had gone out of control. Harry was ground into a wall and lost both legs, crushed by the front of the old car.

People looked on, and went on their way. "I have an appointment." "I have to go to work." "It's dreadful but I can't do anything about it." And on they went.

Lack of concern

Our brothers were amazed at the lack of concern, and deeply hurt because we consider every Jamaican our own brother and sister. Brought to the hospital by the brothers to the emergency room, Harry spoke, though in great pain. He thanked them, then begged the Lord to save his life. It seemed as though he might live. But to our amazement, he was dead when we visited him at 4 p.m.

Where was Christ in the passers-by? When will we take responsibility for one another, especially our poor brothers and sisters? Will modern civilisation and the drive for success and money rob Jamaica of our very soul and source of life? We need to spread Christ more and more and make it more real in our island.

In our joy, there is sorrow. Our country is most wonderful. But sadness lies in my heart. We love the great and strong, but not the weak and broken-hearted.

The very Rev Fr Richard Ho Lung is founder and Superior General, Missionaries, of the Poor.

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