posted June 7th
Newsletter time! For all the latest news of our missionary work in the Caribbean, please click here
posted June 7th
Newsletter time! For all the latest news of our missionary work in the Caribbean, please click here
A summary of recent news from Fiji & the Caribbean…….
In case you’re having trouble, here’s the text version:
Couple spreading positive message to youth
By LEDEDRA MARCHE
FN Senior Reporter
Every year, husband and wife missionary team Peter and Susan Kingston spend roughly three months of their lives in the Caribbean to speak to high school and college students about the perils of drug and alcohol use.
Peter, 55, who hails from England, and Susan, 51, from France, have dedicated their lives to mission work and have been working as interdenominational missionaries for 37 years, mostly in India, Nepal, Africa, Bosnia and now Fiji.
“We bring schoolbooks, library books, wheelchairs that we give in village schools and various projects with the handicapped and bringing clothes to needy families,” Peter said.
The two explained why they have chosen voluntary work and why reaching the Caribbean has become so important to them in recent years.
“We talk about our own experience as teachers — I took a lot of drugs and was heavily into smoking and drinking. Then we show one DVD about the dangers of smoking and another one about the A to Z about drugs,” said Peter.
“If we can at least prevent one child from getting into drugs, then it is worth it. But, hopefully we can prevent a lot more than that.”
The couple has traveled to Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and Dominica and came to The Bahamas for two months.
The goal is simple, they say, and the message has been very receptive.
“We’re going throughout the Caribbean, country by country, and we have visited 13 of them so far, in order to do these programs,” he said.
Having already spent one month in New Providence, the duo has spoken to a number of youth in Grand Bahama at Bishop Michael Eldon and Tabernacle Baptist Schools and at a youth group at Freeport Bible Church and have a full-fledged program planned for their final two weeks.
This week they plan to speak at St. Paul’s Methodist College and a number of public high schools once they receive authorization from the government.
The A to Z DVD, he explained, goes through the alphabet and talks about a drug that starts with every letter.
Following their pep talk and DVD sessions, the couple opens the floor for a question and answer period.
“It’s a good, successful program. People like it,” Peter said, adding that their husband and wife team is the best possible combination.
Peter and Susan have two children who were travelling with them doing missionary work for quite a few years, but have since taken up residence in France.
The two explained that their missionary work is 100 percent voluntary and, as they work without a salary or regular source of income, they often partner with local organizations and their trips, accommodation and food are donated.
“It has been fairly easy here getting around. We put out our thumb, we hitchhike and people are fairly friendly,” Peter said.
“They stop and often take us further than they were going in order to get us where we need to get to. So they have been very helpful and kind.”
They say the restaurants, too, have been kind to them as a number of them have donated meals.
However, accommodation has been a bit difficult. “That’s our biggest challenge. Because we don’t get a salary, we need to find donated accommodation and that has been very difficult,” Peter noted.
But, a few hotels have donated a few days and one church gave them a week.
Their overall message to the youngsters, they say, is to make informed decisions.
“Be wise,” Peter said. “Don’t just get into smoking or drinking because other people are doing it. Make decisions for yourself and we are here to let you see (with the aid of the DVDs), some of the very negative consequences of drugs and smoking. So think before you act.”
Peter said they had also planned to visit Eleuthera next, but their travel was cut short this year with the passing of his mother.
“We’ll come back next year, hopefully, and go to Eleuthera and Exuma and some of the other islands,” he said.
Peter and Susan say their lives were changed many years ago and that is where they get their inspiration. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ON A MISSION TO TACKLE DRUGS
By DANA SMITH
TWO missionaries who have dedicated their lives to educating students on drug awareness have decided to visit Bahamian schools, for the first time.
Peter and Susan Kingston, originally from England and France, and both former addicts, call drug use a “major problem” throughout the Caribbean.
The couple arrived in the Bahamas two weeks ago and have already visited several schools, including the Ranfurly Children’s Home. They plan to visit more, including CR Walker, this week.
“We wrote to the Ministry of Education and met with the Director of Education and he authorized our programme for the government schools here in the Bahamas,” Mr Kingston said. “We’ve also spoken with the Director of Catholic Education; she authorized us to go to Catholic schools.”
The programme they organize is aimed at informing young people on the dangers of addiction in the hopes of discouraging them from drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol.
“It’s a preventative programme,” Mr Kingston said. “It helps young people to think and shows them, right to their face, the problems that taking drugs can lead to.
“People that start smoking, people that start taking drugs, they don’t think about the future, they just think about having fun.”
They show informative DVDs to students as well as engaging lectures.
“We rely on graphic facts and personal life testimonies”, Mrs Kingston said.
Although this is their first visit to the Bahamas, the couple has been visiting different countries in the Caribbean yearly, for the past five years.
Mr Kingston stated: “It was five years ago, we decided to see what we can do in the way of missionary work in the Caribbean. Once we started, it didn’t take long to see that drugs are quite a major problem.”
“I think drugs are a big problem because the Caribbean is located between the US market and the Latin American producers and cartels”, Mr Kingston said. “They’re in the middle, unfortunately.”
Both missionaries work for free and rely on donations to continue their work.
“We live without salary, we just trust God that he will supply our needs,” Mr Kingston said.
“Once a year, we do fundraising,” Mrs Kingston said. “We also collect donations on our website.”
The couple explained how hotels and restaurants are often willing to provide them with free board and meals once they explain their non-profit programme.
They claim “hardly anyone” refuses them a place to stay and a meal to eat.
“We survive on donations and living cheaply,” Mr Kingston said. “If we can prevent one person from falling into drugs, it’s worth it.”
Mrs Kingston adds: “I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but we enjoy what we do.”
The missionaries are based in Fiji and have been doing non-profit work for 35 years. They’ve travelled to several different countries, including India, Nepal, Bosnia, and many countries in the Caribbean and southern Africa.
By Edona Jno Baptiste, News Coordinator/staff reporter
Originally published: October 15, 2009, Dominica News Online
Many people would need a greal deal of fortitude to do what this couple has been doing for the last 35 years. They are not rich. They are not haughty. Peter and Susan Kingston are very humble interdenominational missionaries who travel country-to-country without a salary or regular source of income, educating people about their work and experiences. The Kingston couple has spent the last four weeks in Dominica and now has another two weeks to complete their mission here.
Peter is from England and his wife Susan comes from France. “Our purpose is to do as many programs as we can, in both secondary and primary schools. So in primary schools we do a program encouraging the children to work hard, to have goals, to be motivated and spend their money wisely. In secondary schools we do a drug awareness program talking about the dangers of the common drugs, and we hope to educate students so that they make wise choices in life and don’t go down the road to drugs and crime,” Peter said in an exclusive interview with Dominica News Online.
They started out at age 18 and 19 conducting small projects, distributing books, clothes and wheelchairs based on need basis. Their drug awareness program is mainly for the Caribbean. So far, they have visited some 15 schools and counting. “We’ll probably visit another 15,” he remarked. Their visits are being facilitated by a collaboration with the National Drug Awareness Prevention Unit. Susan and Peter visited the State Prison on Monday, facilitated a seminar for young offenders on Wednesday and conducted a programme at the Dominica Community High School on Thursday. The missionaries expect to be at the Pierre Charles 2ndry School next week.
Peter explained what they do during their visits to the various institutions, including prisons. “Our programs usually last for one hour. We start off with an introduction about who we are and what we’re doing and then we talk about our own experiences as teenagers.” He shares his experiences of being deeply involved in the use of marijuana, LSD, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Peter is no longer a drug user. “We show a DVD which goes into more detail on some of the other drugs like cocaine and crack. At the end we have questions and answers,” he added.
Peter and Susan spend 2 or 3 months in the Caribbean annually. “We started off by going to Antigua. We went all around Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis and then the following year we went to St. Marteen and Montserrat. So we’re gradually covering the Caribbean, one little section at a time… It’s not that we’ve chosen Dominica over other countries with having more of a problem with drugs. We treat all the Caribbean countries equally,” Peter said.
The Kingstons have worked in India, Nepal, Bosnia, and Southern Africa and for the past eight years have been based in Fiji, in the Pacific. “We don’t like preaching. We prefer to show them a sample; anyone can choose whatever they want with their life. We’re different… we don’t really preach… We are born again Christians but we like bringing a sample, not a sermon. Usually we give them our own testimony, our own stories… we don’t push anyone to make the right choice,” Susan said in her contribution to the interview.
While they realise that students are usually reluctant to give testimonies in the presence of their peers and teachers, they ask interesting questions and the couple finds this rewarding. “We wantedto stay longer. They are so lovely. There are some of them who stood up and said ‘we’d really like to leave behind the pretty old life that we had
with drugs and crime and we’re trying to do our best to choose the right path now’ and they ask questions about how to go about that. They all have potential to be good and to improve and have a better life. Maybe they won’t all go on the right path but a lot of them do really want to, and they just need a bit of help from other people,” Peter recognised.
The last time Peter and Susan ever got paid was in 1975. When asked who funds their missions, Peter replied, “When we come to a place we have to pray that the Lord supplies our needs and most importantly accommodation. We go around hotels and ask would you like to donate a room… we got some ‘no’s’ and some ‘come back tomorrows’.”
“People find it interesting that we do this work without a salary,” Peter noticed, and in fact it is .“Sometimes we stay in a great range of different places and that can be anything from five-star to minus three-star. Minus three-star consists of a thin mattress on the floor and some friendly cockroaches and mosquitoes and mice & rats. We’ve had good situations in Dominica. It’s not the country that makes the good or bad experience, but sometimes if we’re in a situation where we need accommodation and the first hotel says yes then that’s great. But if the first hotel says ‘come back tomorrow’…..,” he explained.
They give gratitude to their sponsors Anchorage Hotel, Sutton Place Hotel, Garraway Hotel, Pearl Cuisine, Subway, Ritual Coffee House and Perky’s Pizza.
Below is a clip from the Dominica TV evening news showing excerpts from one of our drug awareness programs: