Members of the clergy; members of the island council; fellow members of the Executive Council; honorable dignitaries; brothers and sisters in Christ….
This evening, we participate in what is becoming a common practice during the first month of the year; it is a time when we, as community, act as well as display our collective understanding of and appreciation for prayer.
So, it should become our goal that we would participate in the National Day of Prayer, as a way to impact our lives.
Sixteen hundred years ago, Saint Augustine said, "We hasten to Christ not by running, but by believing."
The prayers of a nation have always been a powerful force. There are stories enough of how when situations seemed ominous beyond redemption, prayer is believed to have been that one decisive action which changed the course of events.
Today the need for prayer is as great as ever. Our island has been blessed with much success, but faces immense challenges. We must therefore ask the Lord to bless the community, business and government leaders and ask him for guidance, wisdom and protection and most importantly, the courage to follow his guidance.
We must pray that we will have the fortitude to overcome the challenges at hand.
And there’s no better way to demonstrate, to act on our belief, than through prayer. And no one is more able to solve our concerns than the Almighty One we pray to.
And so, let us pray and continue to pray for all those that should and must play a great role in overcoming the challenges we face.
Let us pray particularly for the youth, the family, the church, the educators and the media. Let us ask for his guidance as we need to calm the various social ills, reinstituting moral values and ethics and save our community, our nation now and so for the future.
On this national day of prayer, let us all take a pledge to start changing the present face of St. Maarten by beginning to change ourselves first.
We can for example begin by embracing general interest above self-interest; by embracing empathy above apathy.
We must move away from selfishness and really start thinking beyond Me, Myself and I.
This would certainly be in keeping with an excerpt from a presentation entitled ‘Intellectual Apathy: The Cause of Social Ills’ by Ramendra Kumar;
"Bringing about changes, calls for a pledge not to change the world but to change ourselves; a pledge not to move mountains but to shift pebbles; a pledge not to ride the waves but to create ripples; it is only by changing ourselves that we can change the world; it is only by shifting pebbles that we can conquer mountains; and it is only by creating ripples that we can ride the waves. Then and only then will we create a world in which this pledge will not remain a pledge but will become a reality".
May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. May He continue to pour his richest blessings upon us!
In conclusion, on behalf of my family and I, I would like to wish the entire public of St. Maarten a happy and prosperous New Year.
I thank you.