Below is a report of a teaching trip by Dr. John Oakes to the Caribbean July 16-22, 2010.

Jamaica, Barbados, Trididad July, 2010

Kingston, Jamaica July 16-18

This is my first time in the Caribbean.  I was met by Sonia and Greg Baugh, the couple who lead the church here. Actually, the churches, as there is a group in Kingston and several satellite churches in other cities across the island.  Jamaica is a tropical island, about 120 miles east by west and 60 miles north by south.  It is very mountainous.  It is an independent country with a population of three million, half of whom live in Kingston.  This is a laid back city where the saying, "Don’t worry, be happy" comes to mind readily.  My first night here I had a wonderful meal of jerk chicken and jerk pork.  The genuine version is spicy, cooked over charcoal on a grill made of saplings, covered by corrugated tin.  It is very tasty.

On Saturday I met with the leaders of the churches here in Jamaica for lunch.  There is a church of about 350 in Kingston, led by Greg and Sonia Baugh.  There are also churches in Spanish Town/Portmoor (175 members), Montego Bay (60), Maypen (35) and Mandeville/SantaCruz (15).  We discussed difficult shepherding issues and their desire to appoint elders with Julius (Montego Bay), Craig (Spanish Town), Robert and Franklin James, who works with the singles.  I sense that there is a lot of wisdom and Bible knowledge in this group.  I had dinner with Courtney Bailey to talk about the teaching ministry, followed by a lesson for the church on From Shadow to Realilty.  There were about 350 in attendance.  Afterward I spent time with Mark and Lesia Gregory who work with the marrieds group.

Sunday started with the traditional Jamaican food; Ackee, which is a kind of fruit which looks like scrambled eggs, eaten with codfish.  I tasted good to me, but I hear most Americans do not like it.  Next was a meeting of all the Jamaica churches.  There were about 700 in attendance for a lesson on Science and God.  I am told that Jamaica is 92% African and mixed-African.  The church seems at least that high.  The singing is very spirited.  There were a lot of visitors, a real encouragement overall.  I was blessed to lave lunch with Peter and Sandy Swaby, both of whom are medical doctors who work for HOPE here in Kingston.  They have programs for orphans, mentoring of teens and parenting.  In the evening we met with the family group leaders for a talk on Freedom in Christ and an open question and answer time.  Tomorrow I am off to Barbados.

Barbados July 19-20

I traveled Monday to Barbados.  This is the eastern-most island in the Caribbean, about 1500 miles from Jamaica.  It is a former British colony, 21 miles by 14 miles.  The capital Bridgetown is in the Southwest.  The population of the island is 280,000. Barbados is even more laid back than Jamaica.  It has become a major resort area only fairly recently, having been dependent on sugar growing until about twenty years ago.  I was met by Jerry Marshall.  He is part of the church of a bit over 100 members here on the island.  I am staying in a very nice resort, right on the beach.   I am used to working hard when I visit most churches.  True to their resort economy, my orders from the church leaders here is to relax and have a good time at the seaside resort they have me at.  Well, I guess I will have to submit to that.

After a day of swimming and getting caught up on work I met with the church to teach From Shadow to Reality.  The place was packed, with about 100 on a night they do not normally meet.  This is one of the happiest churches I have come across.  They are lead by Damian and Carlene Jean Baptiste, helped by Paul and Dale Williams and the Marshalls.  I leave refreshed by the beautiful island, the friendly people and above all by the encouragement of the Christians of the Bridgetown Church of Christ.


Trinidad July 20-21

The flight by prop to Trididad was only 45 minutes.  I flew in over some beautiful mountains, arriving at the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain.  The population of this country is 1.5 million.  It is nearly an equal mixture of African and Indian immigrants.  Trinidad is a medium sized island, 65 miles by 50 miles, with very good farmland.  It is the business center of the Lesser Antilles, with little tourism, but a relatively thriving economy, largely based on the oil industry.  Tobago is a wonderfully beautiful and relatively less crowded island.  The food specialty here is roti-an Indian style curry wrapped in a giant bread-like thing which is somewhere between a tortilla and a pancake.   These things are great!  Like most of the Caribbean, the races and nationalities mix easily.  True to the Caribbean spirit, this place has a laid back feel.  There is a rather high crime rate here, unfortunately, but despite this people are very friendly.  I was shocked to have beef served in the Indian-run restaurants, but I am told that most of the immigrants from India do not practice Hinduism.  In fact, probably more are Christian than Hindu.

I spent much of the day with two wonderful older gentlemen from the church in Port of Spain, Rodney (just Rodney!) and Bob Peterson.  These guys are real crack-ups.  Bob is one of the two deacons who, along with one other leader, more or less lead this church, as they do not have full-time staff at this time.  This is a bit surprising to me because there are about 275 members between the churches in Trinidad and a small group in Tobago.  The church has a surprising number of mature members, both by physical age and spiritual experience, but they could use a full time leader to help lead the charge here. The other deacon is Gary Arthur.  This group is tied in with a church in Atlanta.  The singing here is very good and the worship is very lively.  It was just plain fun worshiping with the Port of Spain Church of Christ.

Thursday, I am up at 4:15 for the second day in a row for the flight back to the States.

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