Proverbs 19:17 – “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.”
It gives me great pleasure to stand here this evening in gratitude to our Lord God, for safe passage through yet another hurricane season… as it is exactly 20 years ago that we faced the biggest disaster we have faced for many, many years… as a result of the 1995 Hurricane Season and the devastation of Hurricane Luis and subsequent storms, we adapted these thanksgiving services in December 1999 – A very good practice in my humble opinion.
Sometimes we get so busy with our daily lives, our jobs, our friends and loved ones, that there are not that many occasions that we get together and give thanks for our many blessings as well as the challenges which have taught us valuable lessons for growth and humility.
It is truly a blessing that we here on St. Martin have gone through yet another Hurricane season safely. Many others have not been as fortunate as we have been this season, so we must not only give thanks for our good fortune despite the excessively dry season, but also keep those in the neighboring islands, especially our sister island Dominica, who have been seriously affected in our daily prayers. Besides praying, we are called upon to act, and I must thank the many in our community who have stepped up to the plate and in a selfless act of giving, have given generously to the victims of Dominica. While their recovery continues I am sure they will appreciate any help that we can still lend to them. As the Proverb I quoted at the beginning of this address says… to give to those in need to give to the Lord.
There are many right here in St. martin who are also in need, not because of hurricanes or other natural disasters, but due to man-made choices and decisions which have created disasters in their lives and difficulty for their existence. Many have pride and do not ask, do not register for social assistance and suffer in silence. Look around and lend a helping hand and give a ray of hope to your neighbor, your friends, total stranger who you may know that are in need today.
It often takes tragedy to wake us up, to make us reevaluate our lives and appreciate what we have. The reason for this is that when tragedy strikes, everything becomes instantaneously prioritized. WE realize what matters most to us and what we truly care about … and anything that is not essential is ignored.
Yet when things are going well, it can be easy to overlook the blessings in our lives. We sometimes take for granted: our health, our ability to work, our homes, or the relationships we are fortunate enough to have and rather get caught up worrying about our mounting bills, a dripping faucet or being stuck in traffic and other daily challenges.
The tragedies we have faced this year have not been so heavily affected due to the hurricane season, but the social economic situation for many on this island is very bad, the group of persons living below the poverty line continues to increase, while St. Martin’s economy continues to grow and a small section of our community continues to thrive. This, I believe, has led to a serious increase in the negative influences on our island, and a rise in violent crimes in homes, businesses and in the community as a whole.
We cannot continue to point fingers or waste more time trying to patch this growing phenomenon which moves further and further away from our strength historically and culturally as St. Martin people to always look out for each other, sharing and giving of the little we have, the village raising the children, practicing respect for others, working hard for our bread, relying on education and entrepreneurship to improve our economic standing in society. We have to all contribute to the change we want to see in a society. I envision a St. Maarten that is a Nation at Peace, where each man, woman and child has Opportunity for Prosperity, where each man, woman and child sees him/herself as an agent for change, and a contributor to making St. Maarten what it can be.
Be the Active, Responsible, Respectful Parent, Aunt, Uncle or Grandparent, Teacher, Preacher or Community Activist to each child you encounter in your daily walks of life. Live the life we want the youth to emulate. They might rebel, but the Bible clearly says, teach a child the way it should go and when he is man he will not depart from it.
The Government also has a major role to play in providing equal opportunity for all in education, regulation of the labour market and cost of living regardless of social status, creed or race…. This we aim to do. It is your duty to hold us accountable for these things.
The holidays are quickly approaching. As we struggle with hustle and bustle associated therewith, compounded by December’s traffic, it is important to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same. There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions. So my wish for US ALL IN SXM is that the focus of this Christmas season and all others to come will be the reason for the season … Jesus, our Gift from God, and what He came to teach us: LOVE, HUMILITY, SHARING, HEALING, LEADERSHIP, DEDICATION, DETERMINATION & FAITH!
I wish you all peace of mind, peace in our communities, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours and prosperity throughout the year.
In closing, I want to say thank you for your attention and to encourage all of you to share what you have, and to live with an attitude of gratitude each and every day in your life you are alive to make a difference. Big or small, it doesn’t matter, each act of giving or sharing is a blessing and an important reminder that our lives are filled with blessings and miracles.
I give thanks for our blessings of 2015, and pray for Peace within the hearts of each person living on our island. I wish you all a blessed Christmas Season when it comes – Give thanks at all Times!!!
God bless us all, and God bless St. Martin. –