MISSION STORY - JAMAICA
Adopted by God
My adopted parents died when I was 17, and I began looking for my biological parents.
By Raglan Waite, as told to Andrew McChesney
Today’s story is by Raglan Waite, the 50-year-old caretaker of the Good Samaritan Inn, a Seventh-day Adventist center that assists the homeless in Kingston, Jamaica. Ask a man to share the first-person account.
I grew up in a children’s home and was adopted into a Sunday-keeping home at age of six. My adopted parents died when I was 17, and I had little food to eat. Desperate to find a way to survive, I began looking for my biological parents.
I returned to the children’s home, and I learned the name of my biological mother. But no one would tell me where she lived.
Next, I went to the local Poor Relief Department, a government agency responsible for identifying and assisting the destitute. The woman working there told me that my mother and other members of my biological family were on the list of people receiving assistance. She even said my biological brother was at my high school. She declined to give additional information, citing privacy concerns. But she promised to contact my brother so he could find me if he wished.
One day I was watching a soccer match and one of the high school teachers touched my shoulder. He said, “Are you Raglan? We are brothers.”
I was so happy!
Carl was seven years older than me, and he wanted to take me home.
I packed up my few belongings and moved to my new home. I saw my mother for the first time. She suffered a mental illness and didn’t seem to recognize me. But I was glad to finally meet her.
My brother was a Seventh-day Adventist, and he invited me to go to church with him on Sabbath.
Church members helped me a lot. I could not read well, and they taught me to read and write with the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. They helped me attend a summer course at the Adventist university, where I learned how to give Bible studies.
By the age of 22, I was married, had a child, and was working at a gas station in the tourist resort of Montego Bay. I also was an ordained elder and active in the church. Church leaders asked me to open a branch Sabbath School in a rural area that once had had a strong Adventist presence. We tore out pages from Sabbath School study guides and distributed them to former church members as a way of outreach. That’s how poor we were. We reclaimed 50 former church members.
My personal life began to fall apart when I was 36. I divorced and got remarried. After a dispute with a church leader, I walked away from the church. I continued to keep the Sabbath, but worshipped at home.
Three years ago, I moved across the island to Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, and set up a business with a partner. My wife stayed with relatives in another town as I tried to get the business up and running. But the business collapsed after my partner and I had an argument, and I struggled to find another job. Eventually, I lost my home, and pride kept me from turning to my wife and other relatives for help. I slept on the street for three months.
One day, I sat in a park, talking with another homeless man about where I could take a bath, get a change of clothes, and find some food. He told me, “Go to the Good Samaritan Inn, and they will give you a meal.”
I said, “I want to go there!”
The people at the Good Samaritan Inn were kind to me, and they fed me and gave me a change of clothing. Soon I learned that the Good Samaritan Inn was owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and run by church members.
I started coming to the Good Samaritan Inn regularly, and I felt compelled to give something back. So, I started cleaning the yard. Then I began attending the Adventist Church again, and I was rebaptized.
Today, I am 50 years old and the caretaker of the Good Samaritan Inn. I have my own office and living quarters here. I have reconciled with my second wife.
It was tough on the street. It is good to be adopted—and readopted—by God.
Part of the 2015 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering went to renovate the Good Samaritan Inn in Kingston, Jamaica, and expand its work to include a free medical and dental center for the homeless.
Thank you for helping the Good Samaritan Inn reach out to people like Raglan.