Leslie Moses, president of the Southern Caribbean Conference, told a congregation at the South-East Seventh- Day Adventist Church on Piccadilly Street, Port-of-Spain, that the brazen killing of one of its own, Felicia Dyer-Francis, outside of the church, last Friday, had sent its members into deep mourning.
He stressed, however, that the murder of the God-fearing woman, so close to a house of worship, gave further credence to the fact that “we are at war.” “For us, this is the worst thing that has happened and I am convinced, brothers and sisters, that we are at war.
That is my conviction,” Moses declared while addressing sullen-faced worshippers at the church’s Sabbath School celebration.
“So, I am not seeing this as something that has happened just by chance. We are at war.
Some of you live in war zones because everyday you hear bullets flying all over the place.
“Some of you have testified that you have to run for cover, you have to hide and that is the reality of living in Trinidad at this point in time.” Moses stressed the situation was not to be taken lightly.
“If you didn’t come to the knowledge, brothers and sisters that we are, indeed, at war, then I want you to understand that this is not a dolly house matter. This is not a kindergarten school matter. This is real,” he stated.
Dyer-Francis, 71, had attended an early morning prayer session at the South-East Seventh-Day Adventist Church, last Friday, which sought healing for the people of Laventille and other crime-plagued communities.
Hours later, at around 10.30 am, the woman’s limp, bullet-riddled body was discovered by police officers inside of her Nissan Tiida vehicle, parked outside of the church, after lawmen assigned to the Piccadilly Police Post heard several loud explosions in the vicinity of the church.
Dyer-Francis died while receiving treatment at the Port-of- Spain General Hospital - a victim of the very violence she had prayed would end.
The killing followed reports that her son, a police officer, had been receiving death threats from criminal elements in Laventille. Investigations are continuing.
Yesterday, Moses suggested that other members of the church also could have been killed in the violent attack.
“She was waiting on a member and if that member was there, she would have been killed too,” Moses said.
Moses said he learnt that the car of a male worshipper also was a short distance away from Dyer-Francis’ vehicle “but he was taking things out of his car trunk when he heard the gunshots.” “If his head was up....
Let’s suppose he had taken out his stuff and had gotten there just at the point at which that person came and he saw the person, he would have been killed too,” he told listeners.
“I am saying to you, then, that we are at war but also at this time, even though this thing has happened to her family, to her and to us, we still have much to be thankful.” To cope with Dyer- Francis’ sudden, violent death, Moses said a team of professionals from the church’s Southern Conference and associated associations, all of whom were present at yesterday’s service, will offer counselling to the church’s flock through a process referred to as Incident Stress Management Intervention.
Moses said Dyer- Francis’ death was not easily explainable.
“This is not something that is easily talked over. For a member to pass away is a traumatic experience but for a member to pass away at the hands of a gangster and murdered is quite another thing,” he said.
“For a member to be murdered on Preparation Day (last Friday), in front of the church, makes it even more difficult for us as a people.” Moses said, however, there was still hope.
“I want to suggest to you, today, that even though we are bruised and battered, even though we are run over, we, as a people, we will never be defeated. Nothing that the Devil does or attempts to do will defeat us.” Alluding to two recent incidents in which members of the church were violently attacked, one of whom was sexually assaulted and murdered during a home invasion, the pastor noted that none of the victims had the opportunity to prepare.
“It all happened suddenly, at a moment and for me the message is that this has to be a wake-up call to those of us who hold up ourselves as Seventh Day Adventists.” Moses urged listeners to do away with the laissez- faire attitude they sometimes project.
“You know this lackadaisical attitude that we sometimes have, the attitude that says que sera sera, whatever will be will be...We have to be ready because we are in a war zone,” he declared.
“We have to be full Christians, no compromises, no underground religion, we need to be firmly fitted on the shore of creation, Jesus Christ, Our Lord.” Moses regarded Dyer- Francis’ demise as “a time of personal revival.” “It could have been any of us and I want to encourage you to settle your issue with God,” he said. “You don’t know what will happen. You just have to be ready and when you are, if you have to be confronted with a situation like this, let it be that you are ready.”