Members of the clergy, friends, and family, today I celebrate 90 wonderful years of living. I welcome you all to my home and I am most honoured that you are all here to share this day with me. As I look around I see people who have loved and cared for me throughout the years. My wonderful children, my loving relatives, and my friends, some of whom have adopted me as their father, who have the utmost concern for my well-being and health, who have championed for my cause more than ever, especially in assisting me in raising funds for the needy at Christmastime, a project that was started years ago by my grandmother.
I must relate to you a dream that I had when I was just a boy living in my grandmother’s house – the old house you see across the path. In my dream, I saw a rainbow coloured ladder reaching down from heaven, and on the ladder, there were several little angels with beautiful wings ascending and descending -much like the Bible describes the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream. In that dream in Genesis the Lord made a promise to Jacob to bless him and his descendants. I never forgot that dream, and it stayed with me throughout my 90 years. It was then that I knew I was a special child, and that God’s blessing was upon my life. During my childhood, I had an accident that injured my right knee. I was unable to ride a bike, run a race, climb a tree, or do any of the activities that a boy would normally do. Despite this disability, I always knew that God was directing my path. Throughout my life there have been numerous challenges, ever since I was a little boy, but of one thing I was always assured was that God would always see me through. I am here to tell you that I have proven God time and time again in my life.
My infirmity also kept me from joining the Royal Air Force when I was a young man. I was so despondent when I realized I could not join my friends because of my “physical defects.” I was also jealous of all my friends who left to join the Air Force. Later on in life I realized that this persuasion was not to be my path, and I am thankful that God did not lead me down that road.
However, friends, I could go on and on about the challenges encountered throughout my life, but today my focus is on thankfulness, friendships, and family. I met the love of my life at the young impressionable age of 22 years old. That’s the same age of some of my grandsons here. At the time, there was another girl from the community vying for my attention and affection. She was an attractive girl but I chose Esmine. I married her soon after and my friends it would be the best decision I ever made. We raised our family together, laughed together, argued, prayed and worshipped together. She was a strong woman both mentally and physically and she gave me the best years of her life as well as a beautiful family and home.
My children and grandchildren continue to be a tremendous source of joy and comfort to me in my old age. They are many (between the two generations they number over 40) but each has their own personality, different quirks, likes and dislikes and together they make an interesting bunch of persons of whom I am very proud. My first-born Norman has become more than a son to me and more like a friend and confidante. Norman has been and continues to be my hands and feet and he even helped me raise the first set of children. He was the one tasked with taking them to school, going several miles to visit them when they were boarding out at high school, and just caring about their well-being. Each member of my family has their own special place in my heart. I am looking forward to spending quality time with my great-grandchildren (now 7 in all) and hearing them fill my home with shouts and laughter again.
My relationship with God is a constant source of joy and comfort in my life. His love for me and the demonstration of that love continues to amaze me. He sustains me, provides for me, and is always my “present help in times of trouble.” When I first accepted Jesus as Saviour at the Walkerswood Methodist Church, I was filled with so much zeal to serve in His house. I have been class leader, lay preacher, a circuit steward; president of the Men’s Fellowship, sang in the choir, property steward in charge of maintenance and upkeep of the church and served in other areas of need. Now that I am older, I have relinquished most of those positions, but I am still working friends. The Walkerswood Methodist Church is dear to me as I attended elementary school in that same building. I am currently involved in a project to replace the roof of the church, a venture that is going to cost us upward of 2 million dollars. Any help friends would be greatly appreciated.
I look around today at all of you my friends and family and I must tell you how much I appreciate each and every one of you. I have with me my adopted son Rev. Benguche and I want to welcome you back home Rev. I have my niece Karen here. Since we have rekindled our relationship, you have brought me so much joy. My many sons and daughters and friends from UWI, I am always so happy to see you. You hold a unique place in my heart. Those days when you take time out your busy schedule to stop by the house for a chat and more, it brings me immense pleasure. Friends who have travelled from overseas to be here for this celebration; how can I express how much you mean to me. My life is fuller and richer because of you all. During last year, I lost sisters-in-law, brothers of the faith and many friends; I guess that is the burden of old age. However, I have gained many friends and for that I am grateful to God.
If I can leave you with any lessons today my family and friends, it would be summed up in two words “integrity and hope”. Those are the principles whereby I try to live. I implore you friends live your lives knowing that your actions and your decisions speak to who you are as a person. Seek to be honest and honourable in all you do. My male fiends this advice is particularly for you-let your word be your bond. I have heard so many young women, my own granddaughters included, who claim they can’t find or meet honourable men. Place your hope in the true and living God your Creator and Saviour. One of my favourite scriptures is Romans 5:5 “ And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”. I have lived long enough to tell you that the love of God is the only unchanging thing in this world.
Last but not least we are in the season of Lent and I implore you all to be mindful of all that Jesus accomplished for us by His death and resurrection.
Thank you all for coming. Thanks to the cooks and all who worked tirelessly to make this day a success. My beautiful granddaughter Sandy, I see your hands and creativity all over this. Continue to enjoy the day, and for those travelling back home today or later this week, go safely. I love you all. May God bless you!