St. Lucia is a small tropical island in the Caribbean Sea located about 400km north of South America. With a very mountainous terrain, the majority of the population of approximately 180,000 live in cities and towns around the coastline. Most are of African and Indian descent along with influence from the French and British who controlled the island in past centuries.
The Lord moved to bring several individuals from Canada and the UK to spread the gospel in the 1970s and 1980s. On arrival, there was a single assembly in the capital city that would trace its history and commencement back to the 1930s because of the labour of English missionaries. An open door was set before that second group of evangelists and, in the grace of God, individuals were saved in multiple communities and were willing to be taught the truths of gathering to the name of the Lord Jesus. In time, six other assemblies were established in testimony to our Lord and Saviour. Since those years, the gospel has been faithfully proclaimed in many parts of the island. This is a history to be thankful for.
In 2017, Trena and I, along with our three children, left Winnipeg, Canada, to begin serving the Lord here. For myself, it was a ‘return home’, having been raised in St. Lucia by my parents, Jack and Ruth Gould, who had laboured here. In praying about the work, we had a burden both for building into the existing local assemblies, as well as working outward into towns and villages that did not have a true gospel testimony. Since arriving, we have continued in supporting three assemblies in the north of the island in their weekly meetings. Most assemblies are smaller in number, and responsibility falls on a very few. It is our desire to teach and shepherd, as the Lord allows, including personal visitation and hospitality.
Working outward in the gospel has been concentrated around a fishing village named Anse la Raye. Before COVID restrictions, numerous weeks of children’s meetings saw many children come through the door of a small, rented building. These are times of continued sowing and praying for the harvest. Personal work on the streets and in homes has continued most weeks even through the past few years of restrictions. Numerous religious beliefs and practices have entered the island in recent decades, adding to what in the past had been a strong Roman Catholic following. So, while Bible texts, tracts and magazines are generally well received and appreciated as God’s word, sadly the understanding of salvation simply by repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has been distorted. In this environment, ‘we preach Christ crucified’, 1 Cor. 1. 23, seeking to bring the lost to an understanding of the glories of our Lord and Saviour, and the work of the cross as all that has satisfied God on account of our sin. Through the years, the Lord has brought across our path many individuals from all walks of life. Yet we would desire true fruit for our God from good ground, as we often see evidence that the seed has fallen on the other three types of soil, Matt. 13. 1-9.
A change the Lord brought to us with the closing down of public group outreach work has meant an ability to make time to focus on the teaching of younger believers. During the ‘COVID era’, sets of weekly Bible Classes each Saturday have been conducted on Zoom, but also, at times, in our home, as regulations allow. We have been encouraged by the growth and interest in learning.
The need for the consistent, and consecutive teaching of God’s word never ends, if others are to learn and appreciate scriptural truths and make them their own. Other labours with younger believers include those newly saved, to whom biblical truths must be taught, such as baptism, gathering to the name of the Lord, being a disciple, living as a Christian and many others.
Our prayer is for faithful testimony to shine brightly for our Lord until He returns. In general, assemblies are older in age profile with not many of another generation willing to bow to the Lord in true discipleship. Among the few younger believers, we pray for their continued growth and guidance from the Lord in seeking to continue to teach and shepherd. We long to see many more souls saved and willing to take on the mantle of future responsibility in the local assemblies. While much has been allowed to continue over the past years with COVID, we do seek the return of pre-COVID labours, including ‘in person’ gospel series, children’s work, summer vacation Bible Schools, and expanded personal visitation and hospitality. Finally, a new aspect of the work that began in 2021 is the on-island printing of scripture calendars, and we seek a blessing from the 5,000 that were distributed for the 2022 year.