Report on 2007 Caribbean Prayer Conference
The day finally came, after a number of radio interviews with Sr. Harbajan and Bro. John Robb, chairman of the International Prayer Council, in order to promote the public meetings. The day sessions were closed sessions for the delegates.
The registered delegates arrived representing 9 islands – Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and Bro. John Robb, from the USA.
The opening session started – praise and worship led by Revival Time Worship Ministry. Senator Sandra Husbands and Rev. Joseph Atherley, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office were in attendance along with ministers of the gospel. Minister Atherley in his greeting to the audience exhorted us to think of the islands more as “districts” and the Caribbean as one “nation”. He expressed that the practice and posture of II Chron. 7:14 in its context has to do with the healing of the nation and a nation’s attitude towards God. Nation-building must include growing in relationship with God.
Bro. John Robb, Chairman of the International Prayer Council gave a brief address giving a Global perspective. He shared many testimonies of answers to prayer evident in nations where the IPC and other prayer initiatives have been. Harry Mayers writing in The Nation reported Robb’s presentation, “The conclusion of the conflicts prompted Time magazine to declare that peace had broken out in Africa. But nobody had paid attention to the persistent and fruitful work of prayer networks that has sprung up all over the continent”. (The Nation, Sunday Sun, May 6, 2007, p. 5) He pointed out that Isa. 49:1,8,9 could be addressed to the islands: “in an acceptable and favourable time, I have answered you.”
Pastors Paul Watson, Christopher Brodber and Apostle Adrian Bannis led the delegates in thought-provoking inspirational devotions which prepared the way for the days’ events. Restoration Centre worship team (Dominica) led in awesome worship with Jodi Andrew, a young anointed psalmist. The day sessions allowed reps from each of the islands to share five (5) of their most urgent national and Church-related prayer needs. After sharing, the entire delegation would focus prayer on that island, praying and speaking whatever the Holy Spirit led. As each island was being blessed, it was not long before we realized, as Frank Porter from Caribbean Prayer Network summed up in his presentation, that we all had common problems and very similar needs in the islands.
One very significant aspect of the intercession offered after these presentations was the asking of forgiveness by the presenting island for sins or ways in which their “district” offended other “districts” and allowed the enemy access into other nations. Haiti apologized for the spread of their voodoo culture, Jamaica for the spread of Rastafarianism to the nations, Trinidad for Carnival and Suriname for thinking that no good thing could come out of the Caribbean. Guyana, in a moving moment, dealt with the racial divide within their own nation and had both races represented make a move in proxy, for reconciliation.
The delegates asked the Lord during those times, that He would do specific things for us as a region – namely, to bring down the cost of airfares so the Body of Christ could easily and inexpensively travel while we seek to network and expand His Kingdom; to decrease the cost of international calls especially since it is so expensive to call within the region.
As the day sessions progressed we looked at “Building Effective National Networks”; “Children In Prayer”; “Networking The Caribbean”; Global Day of Prayer”; Issues of the Caribbean” and “The Way Forward”. Each session was enlightening and gave us practical tools to help us in our various ministries as we return to our “districts” (islands). The Way Forward was the climaxing session. The delegates asked for an extension of the final session in order for them to make clear plans for the future.
These plans included:
- The forming of a Caribbean Prayer Council (CPC). Each island present elected someone to sit on the Council for their island.
- The planning of another Caribbean Prayer Summit and making the event an annual one, moving it around the region. A host island was proposed and we await a visit to that island to meet with the spiritual authorities in order to share the concept and allow them to invite us in.
- • Ongoing networking and continuous building of relationships. Create a link between territories through technology.
- • Working at including islands which were not represented at this 1st. Summit.
- • Funding – the sharing of the vision with leaders in districts/churches to receive funding along with gifts from members.
- • Youth district committees networking in various islands. Include youth and children on weekend at the next Summit.
- Work to have GDOP (Global Day of Prayer) in each island.
Appropriately the first evening session, held at the Mount of Praise Wesleyan Holiness church, addressed the issue of slavery and was given the theme, “Pulling Down The Strongholds of Slavery”. This was significant in light of the fact that Barbados was the first stop for the slave ships from Africa with their human cargo, and this year the Caribbean nations were commemorating the abolition of the slave trade. What transpired signaled God’s intention to meet with His people in a powerful way to liberate them from the strongholds that bound them.
Many persons could not put into words the deep and lasting experiences they had in that session, as in a move towards forgiveness and reconciliation, Joseph Zintseme born in Cameroon, West Africa begged the African Diaspora, now living in the Caribbean, to forgive what his ancestors had done by selling their own brothers into slavery. Trevor Yearwood, writing about the event in the Midweek Nation newspaper, reporting on Zintseme’s message to the congregation wrote, “He estimated that slavery took a heavy toll on Africa’s development, as it removed some of the most talented people. “The continent is missing your love and your affection…The continent is missing your blessing.”’ (Midweek Nation Extra, Wednesday, May 9, 2007, p.1). Harry Mayers in another article entitled, “Saying Sorry” in The Nation Sunday Sun wrote, “Zintseme said he still experienced certain tensions between people of colour and he believed that there were mental and emotional conditions that had to be broken by prayer and forgiveness.” (The Nation, Sunday Sun, May 6, 2007, p. 5)
Rowlee Whitehead, representing the Europeans, expressed deep sorrow at what his forefathers had done in buying and subjecting our forefathers to slavery. It was a moving moment when the men came forward and hugged Joseph, reminding us of the reunion with Joseph and his brethren in the Scriptures.
Rev. Devon Harbajan, as he stepped on the platform to stand with his wife, expressed a feeling of walking into a haze with his eyes burning and smelling a fragrance he could not identify. The closest word he could use was that it reminded him of incense. At that time, Maria Harbajan could hardly stand as the presence of the Lord was so heavy and she too was having problems seeing. Sis. Tomlinson, one of the delegates and a member of the planning committee noted that the presence of the Lord was so strong, one was afraid to even move! As the delegates traveled back to the hotel that night, there was not the regular talking but instead worship. It was a delight hearing the Haitian brothers worship in their own tongue as the other delegates did so in English.
Friday night brought the youth together for a public session on “Youth In Prayer”. Imran a young man, delivered a serious soul-searching message which challenged the youth to a deep commitment to the Lord. There was somewhat of a struggle among the young people to break through and the Lord sensitized the older ones to what the problem was. Many of young people could not make a connection with God because they had no earthly father with whom they made a connection. There was much of what a Christian psychologist terms, the “father wound”. Bro. James Medford of Operation Intercession on the island of Barbados was asked to stand in-the-gap for the fathers who had failed the young people. After he apologized on behalf of failing fathers and prayed, the breakthroughs began. Some of the youth shared afterwards that they had never felt the presence of the Lord in such an intense manner as they did there. Some had “visitations” that they will not forget.
It was interesting to note the personal breakthroughs and answers to prayers that delegates were receiving within days of the Summit ending. Committee members and even one of the ministers who shared in the time of devotion, got a major breakthrough that he had been waiting for a few years, on the same day he shared at the Summit. And the testimonies continue. Those who attended will never be the same, not because of any one individual but because of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit from the beginning until farewells were done and also the willingness of those who were in attendance to break down spiritual and personal barriers for God to be glorified.
With the permission and invitation of the Christian leaders, we were able to move to our next destination for the CPS, Suriname. A committee was set up and the vision was rolled out in similar format as was done in Barbados. This time however, the children and youth would not be left out. A one-day meeting was planned to include them on the weekend when they would not be in school. One highlight of that Summit was having the President of Suriname, President Ronald Venetiaan address us in our Opening Session and for us to receive a beautiful bouquet from the presidential palace. Another highlight was having the Haiti representative in a kneeling position, repenting and asking for the forgiveness of the nation representatives for his nation exporting “voodoo” to the nations. In response the nation reps repented for rejecting and seeking to exclude Haiti from the affairs of the region.
The Council reps in Suriname then voted for the next CPS to go to Jamaica based on a prophetic word brought prior to the Summit where a “fire” was seen coming out of Suriname and Jamaica then spreading throughout the Caribbean moving across the globe. Maria Harbajan returned to her nation with the same mandate of calling together an organizing committee, visiting the Ministers Fraternal group in the area in which the Summit would be held. The Ministers gave their blessing on the Summit and a Church in the area was chosen to host two evening services for the Summit – a Reconciliation Service and a Youth Service. A hotel was chosen for the day sessions.
(Compiled by Maria Harbajan, Member, International Prayer Council / Coordinator, Caribbean Prayer Summit)