‘I have a message to carry’

IN September 1988, after Hurricane Gilbert slammed into Jamaica ripping the roofs off 80 per cent of the nation’s 500,000 houses, 100,000 of which could not be repaired, insurance salesman Errol Rattray, in the devastated hush that followed, got an offer he could not resist.

“When it happened [September 12] the following day as I walked in my community in Kingston I heard a voice say, ‘people’s lives are like Jamaica, broken, shattered and I am calling you to give life to people, to restore them.’ I looked around, about to dismiss it, and it said, ‘I am calling you to bring change into the life of people.’ ” Rattray told the Jamaica Observer.

He had worked in the insurance industry as a life underwriter for 10 years and in the bauxite and sugar industry reaching dizzying heights. While an insurance salesman he had observed that individuals would share about their life with him and would ask him to pray. Then almost routinely they would report that whatever he prayed for had come to pass.

But something was missing.

“Even though I was making good money in the insurance industry, as an insurance salesman, I could buy a home every five years. I could buy a new car at low or no per cent interest. All my family members got the opportunity to migrate. I got the opportunity to do so and did not.

“There was something in me that was saying, this is where I was born. I am very patriotic, very loyal to country, to family, to God,” said Rattray.

That small voice that blustery September morning settled the matter. Although his colleagues thought him quite ‘mad’, his wife of more than 40 years, who he describes as his “sounding board, best friend, confidante and the wind beneath [his] wings,” at the time told him “I knew this was going to happen but if we have to breadfruit and ackee and salt fish and drink sugar and water I am prepared to support you”.

According to Rattray, he started his life of Christian ministry because he was called and he realised that he was called to help.

“I could not walk away…my whole life has been that,” he told the Observer.

Since then, Rattray founded the Errol Rattray Evangelistic Association (EREA), an entity focused on finding solutions to the spiritual and moral issues challenging Jamaica. His ministry as an evangelist has spanned denominational lines and country borders.

“I am an evangelist and as an evangelist I seek to communicate the life-changing message to help persons live a better quality of life,” he said as he added that murderers, drug dealers, prostitutes are among the people he reaches for.

“I am not in it for money or popularity,” he stated as he pointed to his upbringing in a Christian home where he learnt the virtue of giving to those in need even while having personal needs.

Now at 75 years of age and “still in the faith”, Rattray, who says there is still more unclaimed territory for him to conquer, was on Sunday elevated to the rank of pastor by the board of the EREA in an ordination Service in St Andrew.

“This country is God’s country and as God’s man I have a message to carry,” Rattray stated while emphasising that even though an ordained “pastor” he will not be tied to any local assembly.

“I will be going to the nations,” he said resolutely.

Rattray, who is the man who spearheaded a national clean-up campaign in 2007, said he believes it is the duty of the church to address the state of moral decay in the island.

“The place is dirty Jamaica has more churches per square mile than any other country and so if the place is dirty, it is the Church’s duty to clean it up,” he said resolutely.

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