God had laid on my heart to take my entire family on a mission trip. I was able to connect with Dr. Matthew Dunnaway of Tuscaloosa, who heads up “Cruise with a Cause” to get this rolling. On May 28th, my family and I loaded a 15 passenger van and drove down to Miami for the cruise. We boarded the ship on Monday, May 30th, and was on our way to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
This cruise was so powerful and the spirit on this boat was just amazing. The first night, we kicked things off by hearing Pastor John Hagee speak and his son Matthew Hagee sing. It was a powerful start to a powerful week. There was such an amazing lineup of speakers and artists, ranging from Bishop Paul Morton to Casting Crowns. I was even honored to be a speaker on this cruise.
We ported in Montego Bay early Wednesday morning. I headed out with the men in my group and about 30 other men and women to Kingston, the Capital of Jamaica and also one of the most dangerous areas. We were going to speak with the men and women in the prisons, who are some of the most hardened criminals in Jamaica. After we arrived we faced some difficulty, but were finally able to get in. What we saw will forever change us. The conditions in these prisons are unimaginable. This is nothing like prisons here in America, where you have rec rooms, free time, three meals a day, and all supplies you need. While we were there, they were served a small bowl of something that we couldn’t even recognize. They are not even supplied with items for their basic needs. They have to buy them from the store, but most of them have no family who visits or sends money. Some of them said they just wish they could buy a toothbrush and toothpaste. It really makes you realize what we take for granted. I was able to speak to these men for a minute and then we split off and shared the gospel with them. There were several who gave their lives to Jesus and it was truly a blessing. We brought Bibles with us and they were begging for them. What a shame that here in America we have Bibles so freely lying around, but so many of us do not even take the time to read and study them.
Wednesday night we had Jamaica Fest on the beach, where many of the speakers and artists performed for the people in Jamaica. We had thousands of school supplies that everyone had brought and we handed them out to the parents and kids. This event was very powerful. There were over 60,000 people there! It was unreal and the power of God fell on that beach, changing so many lives that night.
On Thursday, we loaded a bus to visit the schools. My group was supposed to be going to an all girls high school, but after sitting outside the gate for about 45 minutes we were unable to get into the school. God had really spoke to me about how much we were needed in that school, but Satan was at work as well. So we decided to join the rest of our bus at Chetwood Memorial Primary School. As soon as we stepped off that bus, God just truly blessed. Those children had our hearts instantly. We split into separate classrooms and were able to share the gospel with these children. There were over 200 decisions that day! Before we left, we gathered into one classroom and those precious children started singing praises to Jesus with such passion. They were jumping up and down, waving their hands in the air, smiling, and singing at the tops of their lungs. They were just so happy to be praising Jesus. They were packed into a small dark classroom, they had no air, and it was so hot. They didn’t have the supplies that we have here. They played basketball with a bag filled with sand in a broken hoop, but they never once complained. They were so happy just to be there. I learned so much from those precious children and they stole my heart. We returned to the boat to board and depart back to Miami.
It was bittersweet leaving Jamaica, but we will be back. We continued to be blessed by more amazing speakers and artists as we headed back to Miami. On Friday, we had our celebration service and found out there were 22,000 people saved during our time in Jamaica! PRAISE BE TO GOD! 22,000 people who gave their lives to Jesus. This Cruise was such an amazing experience and Dr. Matthew and all the people behind the scenes did an amazing job organizing this event. They are planning another one in 2013 and I highly encourage you to take part in this. You can find out more information by searching Cruise with a Cause on facebook and liking their page.