Thursday, May 27, 2010

Accompong, Jamaica.....

It has been our goal since we moved to Jamaica in August 2008 to visit every Assemblies of God church on the island. This endeavor helps us in the classroom, helps build relationship with the pastors, brings an awareness of the Bible College to the churches, has become our weekly culture lesson and is a fun excursion for the three of us. No doubt if there is a beach nearby we take advantage of that too!

This past Sunday we found ourselves in Accompong. When Renee first saw a direction sign, she said the name correctly and told us some history that she learned in her school about this place.

Accompong is a Maroon settlement. The Jamaican Maroons were runaway slaves in the eighteenth century. They first fought the British in 1655. They fought against slavery. When they first ran away, they ran to the mountains. I thought I knew about mountains growing up in Pennsylvania, until I moved here. Jamaica's mountains are REAL mountains! In these mountains they formed "safe" communities. There were five safe places. Accompong, Trelawny Town, Mountain Top, Scotts Hall, and Nanny Town.

Some Maroons were captured and taken to Novia Scotia and then later exiled to Sierra Leone. As a matter of fact, one of Jamaica's national heroes is a Maroon and the only national hero that is a woman. Granny Nanny. She died in 1733. Nanny lived and died in Nanny Town. She possessed a fighting spirit generally associated with the courage of men. She was a fearless Asante warrior who used militarist techniques to trip up the British.

In 1739, the British governor of Jamaica signed a treaty with the Maroons. The British would give them acreage and the Maroons would live in five locations with their own chiefs under British supervision. They would no longer be able to harbor slaves and would be paid a bounty of two dollars for each slave returned.

In 1795, a new governor was in power, the slaves were mistreated and the Second Maroon War broke out. The Accompong Maroons stayed neutral and the British left them alone and today they are the only ones that remain. All the other settlements were destroyed.

Today the Maroons are autonomous and separate from Jamaican culture. Interestingly, Accompong is the most inaccessible place on the island and has a community of 600 people and an Assemblies of God church. Of that I am proud! The name of the church is Ta Ta Denue Assembly of God. Its pastor is Cynthia Knight. She is the lady on the left.

Here we are climbing to get to the community.

The road kept getting narrower and narrower, I must have been terror stricken because I didn't get any photos! Needless to say when the white folks arrived, everyone stared. That's okay, we are used to it!

Sunday School was just ending when we arrived and immediately we were welcomed by the pastor and her sister, Cynthia's able assistant.

The worship was great, the only accompaniment were the drums, by the way. Because of the gun battles that were beginning to take place last weekend in Kingston, the rest of the service was dedicated to prayer. Intense prayer for the nation, the government officials, the gun men, the children, the church. It was a wonderful prayer service, before the prayer had begun, they asked us to greet the church, which isn't unusual, but I knew Renee particularly enjoyed this church because she spoke of how she sensed they were "crazy for God." This was a term I hadn't heard her use up until this point, so I knew that she had sensed something in this particular place.

After the service before the rain began to pour, a gentleman, upon seeing "foreigners" ran to the car to ask if we would like to see the museum. Here is Mark walking us through the artifacts and paintings to describe the Maroons history. There would have been more to see outside, but that will have to wait for another day, torrential rains burst out of the sky for the next couple of hours.

The painter of the murals didn't use a photo to paint. He simply painted what was in his mind from history. Incredible.

The horn is still used to sound for a gathering or tragedies or important meetings. I thought it was cool that the horn was also used for the entrance to the community.

Such a fascinating experience, history come to life.

A missions team had come to this community and painted on the little Sunday school wall. Anna, the pastor's sister is so proud of her Sunday school wall! Little things that people do mean so much in a country where these sorts of things would not be possible.

And still to think there is an Assemblies of God church there, incredible!


  1. Debbie,

    That was a very interesting post and contained much that I did not know!

  2. Very interesting. We are glad you had a fun day in Jamaica.

  3. Good for the Maroons. Glad a group was strong enough to fight off the White EVIL slavery system!