June 15, 2020 | Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands | Cayman Compass | By Andrel Harris
With each passing week, the true extent of need and financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more evident.
The Economics and Statistics Office estimates as much as 10,000 jobs have been lost as a result of the collapse of the tourism industry. Although the government has promised financial assistance to those in need, not everyone qualifies to receive the aid; and those who do must join long queues at the inundated Needs Assessment Unit.
The Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church in West Bay is one of several churches that have stepped up to help assist members of their community during these difficult times.
“Some people are really struggling, especially those in the tourism industry that have lost their jobs,” said Roxnell Salmon, a member of that church, which has identified 47 families in need of food.
In some of the most-extreme cases, the church has assisted with paying their rent.
“One of the hardest-hit communities happens to be in West Bay,” said Joshua Lawrence, the first elder of Berea SDA. “We have to assist them, and to deal with the most urgent ones. We do so every two weeks.”
The church has put together its own COVID-19 Action Taskforce, which goes out and identifies the various needs of people within the community.
Berea SDA Pastor Vaughan Henry, who is also the pastor for the Bodden Town SDA church, said, “This is the type of ministry that Jesus would do, … where he goes out and serves those in need. He healed the sick, he reached out to those who are mourning, bringing comfort and solace to them, working miracles, turning water into wine, feeding them with fish and bread. All those who are in need, Jesus definitely reached out to them, and as a church, we are here to reach out to those who are in need.”
However, like other charitable organisations, Berea’s funding is limited and the needs the church group are identifying continue to grow with each passing day. The Cayman Islands Adventist Conference has provided financial assistance to help the Berea church continue its outreach.
Lawrence said the church is not able to meet all the needs of everyone in the area and is urging other members of the community to help.
“We are hoping that those who are listening will take care of their friends and their neighbours,” said Lawrence.
Those who wish to make a contribution to the Berea SDA can contact Joshua Lawrence at 325-8537.