A Pentecostal minister was moved to tears on Thursday as he implored those bent on a life of crime to turn to God.
Pastor Daniel Ramdial, of the Full Gospel Tabernacle, delivering the sermon at the funeral service for murdered MI4 security guard Mark Nurse at the parade square of the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, Tobago, said criminals must know there is hope.
"I want to send a strong message to those who have chosen to walk the road of crime," he said.
"For some reason or the other you walked the wrong path. I don't know what you have been through. Given the time you grew up, you were forced into a life of crime.
"I may not know what you have been through to reach this path in your life but I am here to tell you something today. I am here to tell you that there is hope for you (criminals). I am here to tell you that God loves you."
Ramdial said the tears of the mourners were not cries for justice for Nurse but for the grace of God to enter the hearts of criminals.
"I am saying to those members of society who have chosen to walk this path, there is hope for you in God. I want you to know today that God loves you. You must say to yourself: 'I have gone the wrong path.'
"But, I am here to tell you that God loves you. I don't care how far you have gone. His grace is sufficient for you. I beseech you with every drop of blood in my body today, to stop and turn around, God loves you."
Ramdial said members of society have the right to live.
"God did not give us the power in our hands to take lives. But today, I want you to know there is room on the cross for you, wherever you might be."
Ramdial then urged mourners, who included members of the Tobago House of Assembly, to hold hands as he prayed for end to the country's crime situation.
Nurse, 40, an MI4 security officer, was shot in the head around 3.30 am on December 20, 2019, during a robbery at Penny Savers Supermarket on Carnbee Main Road.
The officer and a colleague, Atoyia Charles, were collecting the day's sales from the supermarket when the assailants approached them and ordered the cash be handed over to them.
Charles was shot in the leg and shoulder but Nurse died on the scene.
An autopsy was performed on his body only last week because there was no forensic pathologist on the island to carry out the procedure.
On Thursday, crime was the common theme among those who paid tribute to the father of two during an emotional three-hour service.
Vocalist Alvin Pierre urged citizens to unite in the fight against crime.
"Let us come together as a country and strengthen each other. Stamp out the negativity and ask God to place positive energy in us."
The Rev Rajkumar Mayhew, of Central Mission International, Talparo, described the crime situation as an "evil trend that bothers and disturbs us in Trinidad.
"I declare the blood of Jesus over our nation," he added.
A member of the Boys' Brigade and Cadet Force, Nurse was remembered as loyal, dedicated, willing, respectable and trustworthy.
Vocalist Sharon Phillips, Speyside Cadet Unit, Donna Parks, Warrant Officer Andre Alfred and former community development supervisor Irene Beach were among those who paid tribute to Nurse.
Nurse was buried at the Bacolet Public Cemetery. He leaves to mourn his wife Clarissa Joseph-Nurse and two children, aged 18 and one.