Five hundred Unashamedly Ethical (UE) commitment forms were signed and many more sign-ups were made online during an exciting 5-day visit to Jamaica by South African businesman and UE campaign founder Graham Power.
What began simply a little over a year when John Roomes, CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators Caribbean invited Power to speak at a Christian Business Leaders’ Banquet was transformed into an intensive series of events over five days.
“It was felt by our closer business friends that we should do much more with this visit and they asked that we widen the events to include as many business leaders as possible, meetings with church leaders as well as with leaders of state,” says Power who is also founder of the Global Day of Prayer (GDOP).
What was a real surprise to the organisers was the overwhelming response of top business leaders as they committed their companies to providing financial sponsorship for the expanded itinerary — sending a clear signal that they wanted an end to corruption in Jamaican affairs. Power was warmly and positively received by all sectors resulting in a major first for the campaign, as the Governor-General, His Excellency Sir Patrick Allen; the Prime Minister, Honourable Mrs Portia Simpson-Miller, along with her Cabinet; the Leader of the Opposition, Honourable Andrew Holness; as well as top business and church leaders all gave their commitment to be “unashamedly ethical”.
From the time of his arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Graham was ushered to several high level events, including a meeting with state leaders; a pastors’ breakfast; a business leaders luncheon; an Unashamedly Ethical forum that included a panel discussion with the newly appointed representative of Transparency International, Professor Trevor Munroe, as one of the panelists; speaking opportunities at three church services; as well as some press and television interviews.
Another highlight of the trip was a courtesy call on Minister of National Security, the Honourable Peter Bunting. Jamaica is ranked 85 on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and this is evident in many areas of Jamaican life. One of the disturbing indicators is the high levels of criminality in the country. In some situations, unethical behaviour is seen as the acceptable norm and business as usual. But, by virtue of the great support for Power’s visit and the high levels of anticipation and interest at the various events, Jamaicans are desiring change. They are disturbed by the fact that their friendly island of sun, sea, sand, music, laughter and great cuisine is being spoilt by growing incidences of corruption.
“Courage to commit”
The Steering Committee behind the introduction of Unashamedly Ethical, which is led by Robert Levy, the main sponsor of Power’s trip, and Oral McCook, Board Chairman of Wycliffe Caribbean, regard the voluntary sign-up by church, state and business leaders as a clear demonstration of “courage to commit” suggesting that there is real hope for a better future for the nation. A team has now been formed to plan the next steps in establishing an Unashamedly Ethical community in Jamaica in order to advance the campaign deeper into the nation. This promoting and monitoring group will also lead the drive to identify and engage an Ombudsman for the movement.
While addressing the Jamaica Observer Press Club, Power stated that one of his deep concerns is that 2015 is going to be the year of the whirlwind where growing persecution of Christians and the resultant instability and turmoil could lead to increased political upheaval and instability, such as that witnessed in Nigeria, North Africa and elsewhere. “We’re going to see a lot more than what we have seen historically. I don’t wish for it; I certainly pray for the opposite, but I’ve had this burning concern,” he explained.
On a more comforting note, the Unashamedly Ethical founder also spoke about the visible demonstration of the power of prayer in South Africa and North Africa. Describing what happened after the 49 000 capacity Newslands Stadium had been rented for the first prayer gathering in 2001, Power explained: “At the time we had 22 pipe bombs going off in our country over an 18 month period in Cape Town (1999/2000), we had a lot of violence. South Africa had opened up, post-apartheid, and there were a lot of Mafia style gangsterism and fighting. The day of repentance and prayer was quite a historical gathering as the largest [prayer] gathering previously held in our city was about 4 000 people… Since that 2001 gathering, not a single bomb has gone off in Cape Town, a certain proof to me of ‘the power of prayer’.”
In his usual humble and transparent way of talking, Power used his platform in Jamaica to share his testimony about his conversion in 1999, which was followed by a dream/vision he received to start the GDOP that resulted in the historic prayer service at Newlands Stadium in 2001. About five years later he received another vision, to start a global campaign challenging people to commit to ethics, values and clean living, which was launched as UE (www.unashamedlyethical.com) in 2006. By 2010 the GDOP had expanded to 220 nations, and this day of repentance and prayer is marked annually on Pentecost Sunday. In 2014 the GDOP anchor service was held in Chennai, India. Jamaica has been participating in the GDOP since May 2005 and a number of major prayer groups in that nation do attribute their founding largely to the influence of this movement.
Power expressed his gratitude for Jamaica’s forthright stance against apartheid and the significant roles the nation played in seeing this evil in South Africa eradicated. This humble servant of God won the hearts of Jamaicans everywhere as he apologised for the horrible treatment of their ethnic brothers and sisters during that shameful period and sought their forgiveness on behalf of his nation. It is no wonder that he was so well received, his shared vision from God for transformed nations so warmly embraced and that people everywhere he went committed, with great anticipation, to be “unashamedly ethical”.