THA Chief Secretary and interim political leader of the Tobago People’s Party Farley Augustine believes the war on crime and other social ills plaguing the country can be fought through prayer and thanksgiving.
He was delivering remarks on Thursday at the opening of the gospel night at the Tobago Jazz Experience: The Return at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex.
Referring to the Book of Second Chronicles, Chapter 20, in the Bible, Augustine recounted the story of King Jehosaphat and his people, who were preparing to go to war.
He said during that ancient period, the weapons of choice would have been shields, swords and arrows.
“In our time, when you are fighting a war you may need to get more guns. The police will tell you they need more firepower and they need more vehicles,” Augustine said.“But God told King Jehosaphat to do a strange thing, to bring out men and let them sing lustily. Let them sing praises unto the most high God and King Jehosaphat did just that and they saw God defeat the enemies for them because God wanted to teach the children that the battle is never yours but the battle belongs to the Lord.”
He believes this same principle can be applied to TT, which is grappling with several social issues, most notably spiralling crime.
“We see what’s happening with our young people. We see that they are often selecting negative vices as opposed to those that are positive. And I am saying that the war that we have to fight on all fronts may not require us to spend more money on police cars or guns or more money on cameras. But it requires us to spend more money time on our knees praying to the most high God and singing praises onto God in thanksgiving.”
In his remarks, Augustine also said the THA plans to invest more heavily in Tobago’s gospel fraternity.
“In our island we have always invested heavily in the arts. Sometimes, I feel we invest more in the secular arts than we invest in those that sing praises onto God and having gospel as part of this year’s feature was to send a clear message that we are going to invest in those who sing praises onto the Most High God.”
Among the line-up of artistes at the show were Tobago-born singers Positive (Joel Murray), Shantal Lindsay, Blessed Messenger (Tyronne Dominic Williams) and Nicola Dalrymple.
Augustine publicly lauded the contribution of the island’s artistes within the Caribbean’s gospel circuit.
“The best, most recognised, most popular gospel artistes in the Caribbean by majority comes from Tobago because for such a small island to produce so many well known gospel artistes who are respected across the region, it means that the church in Tobago has been able to do something that secular sector in Tobago cannot do. And that is to produce gospel artistes of repute and we must be proud.”
Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Tashia Burris said the country’s social ills, citizens still have much to be thankful for.
“While we are grappling with a crime situation that seems to be getting out of control, we must never forget that God always remains in control, regardless of how bad the situation may seem,” she said in welcome remarks.
She said Augustine is fighting many battles on behalf of Tobagonians.
“Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Our chief secretary is a man who, at this time, is fighting many battles on behalf of the people of Tobago, his secretaries and assistant secretaries are fighting many battles on behalf of the people of Tobago.
“And for any one person out there who thinks we are not able, for any person out there who thinks that we cannot succeed, there are tens and hundreds and thousands of people out there who are praying for us and who are rooting for us and who will continue to pray for us.”
Burris said the planning for this year’s Jazz Experience started since February 2022.
“One of the things that we insisted was that we start the festival off with celebration and praise, to give the persons the opportunity who prefer to sing and dance and clap and give glory to God the opportunity to be part of the Tobago Jazz Experience on its return after covid (19). So we have much to be thankful for and even more to pray for.”