by AT News Team

“The nation is in serious problems as it relates to poverty and morality,” Pastor Merrick Walker of the Washington Gardens Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Andrews, Jamaica, told The Gleaner, a leading newspaper in the Caribbean nation. “There is too much poverty, immorality and mental slavery in Jamaica. I would really like to do more for people in 2013.”
The pastor was elected president of the Ministerial Fraternity by his peers in the East Jamaica Conference. He expressed attitudes typical of Adventist clergy in the developing nations where nine out of ten of the denomination’s members live.
“I pray that God will grant our national and community leaders the will, the wisdom and the wherewithal to fix our nation,” Walker told a reporter. He described “shortfalls in … the quality of life and morality” that he observes in his country where the Adventist Church is the largest religious denomination. Radical changes are needed to bring prosperity, he said.
Walker sees a link between prayer and social action. “I believe that prayer will lead to action,” he stated, emphasizing “we must do more than pray.” Prayer “has been the architect of change throughout time,” he said, because “when the heart is open in prayer, it is more receptive for change.”
The model of ministry that Walker practices he attributes to the ministry of Jesus as described in Luke 4:18: “To heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives … to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Walker firmly believes that “it is God’s desire that people are liberated mentally, spiritually, financially and socially” and God’s people must focus on “alleviating suffering.”
“Too many people are blaming others without doing much to grow our nation,” Walker said. He would like to see “all church leaders and their organizations” get involved in nation-building. He told The Gleaner  that he prays that people with diverse religious views will be more tolerant of those who hold views contrary to their own. “Each person is entitled to his or her views and must not be subjected to physical or verbal abuse” or other pressure “because of their views.”