HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
A new year’s resolution for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, might be to raise awareness and do what we can to tackle the global scandal of human trafficking, police crimes against citizens and the politician’s failures of our political system. – Patriarch Godfrey Gregg
The bells ringing out the old year and ringing in the New Year remind us of how quickly time passes. Even since this time last year, all our lives have changed in one way or another: we’ve seen new faces and places, meeting new challenges, embraced new opportunities, encountered new problems. The turn of the year brings with it a mixture of sadness and hope, memories and dreams, regrets and resolutions. Some people won’t be sorry to leave 2019 behind; others will face the New Year with uncertainty in terms of family, health, relationships and financial pressures. They ask: will 2020 be a good year? It is left to be seen.
At the beginning of this New Year, the beautiful Blessing of Aaron will be read from the Book of Numbers in the congregation of The Mystical Order. Although it is two and a half thousand years old, its verses invoke a timeless message which is perfect for today:
‘22 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:22-27).’
To begin the New Year blessed by the presence of God is to hold on to hope, courage and trust even when we might be inclined to fret, fear or be anxious about the future. Our resolutions to change or do better are born out of the conviction that a fresh start is always possible and that conversion is achievable and good for us. Faith in God’s presence enables us to say: 2020 will be a better year. With the Lord’s face shining upon us in 2020 we can be more present to each moment, each person, every cry for help, every gifted opportunity that awaits us; every day, every hour, every moment can be truly blessed by the love and presence of God.
During the Christmas season, many of us have had the opportunity to be with family, to spend time in worship and to reach out in charity to those less fortunate than ourselves. Others like me spent Christmas Day at work where we brought joy and expressions of happiness to our patients. May these Christmas instincts inspire our resolutions for the year ahead – to spend more time with family and friends; to build our friendship with God; to reach out to the marginalised? To mend broken fences in a country that is so politically divided and full of biases from every side.
In my Christmas message, I reminded you that before us the cruel facts of modern-day slavery: that millions of children, women and men throughout the world are deprived of their freedom and forced to live in conditions akin to slavery. I spoke with bluntness about the greed and corruption which preys upon the dignity of our fellow human beings who are ‘trafficked’ from place to place and mistreated as objects for exploitation and prostitution. Many of them, because of extreme poverty and helplessness, get caught up into a vicious circle, accepting roles and situations that are beneath their human dignity. And sadly, because of selfishness local and global indifference, we can easily remain blind and ignorant of their plight – perhaps even tacitly complicit.
A new year’s resolution for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the church, might be to raise awareness and do what we can to tackle the global scandal of human trafficking, to rally the governments of the region to STOP the rape and abuse against our women and girls and to a greater extent our young boys. We might ask questions of ourselves and our public representatives: where is trafficking happening in our country? What are we doing to make St. Vincent and the Grenadines the land of one thousand welcomes and a cold place for human traffickers? Clearly trafficking, rape and abuse of our female population are a problem to be addressed both nationally and internationally. Right on the front steps of our beloved homeland of St. Vincent and the Grenadines the people that swore to protect and serve the nation are leading the rape and abuse of our women and girls. This is outrageous and it has stuck to the heart of our monarchy where a Prince is defending himself for his association with a convicted sex offender and now deceased Jeffery Epstein and our local governmental authorities. It begins, however, with personal and public awareness of what trafficking is. What is rape, how to spot a rapist, what to do in the event a rape occurs and how it can be prevented?
Aaron’s blessing prays that the Lord may bless us and keep us all safe in his care. If at the end of 2020, some vulnerable trafficking victims feel “no longer slaves, but our brothers and sisters (Philippians 15-16)”, then we will be able to say: it has been a very good year! I will continue to monitor the news and the national bulletins from the regions to see if any progress is made. Do not be deceived, there is a fraction of our society that make a livelihood when crimes are committed and the society should call on these individuals to hold town hall meetings to educate the citizens. That will stop the flow of revenue into their pockets but we must give it a try.