In the name of God
A profile of a leading Dominican religious leader: by Gwen Evelyn
Pastor Randy Rodney is relaxed, quite at home in the well kept and freshly painted church. It's his favourite place, the launch pad for his mission in life-- saving souls.
This building has a special meaning for him because it's where he spreads the good news of the Gospel to over 210 church members. It's where he counsels his congregation, helps them deal with the vagaries of life, gives them a Christian perspective of current affairs and helps them find God's purpose for their lives.
Today, as Pastor Rodney sits calmly in his office, the morning has almost run its course.
He has a story to tell and it is the miracle of how his ministry came to acquire the building in which he sits.
"This building is really a story of the miraculous hand of God. Only God could have done it," Pastor Rodney says.
The story begins with him being asked to pastor the Trinity Baptist Church at Kingshill in Roseau. Things are not going well there, but under his stewardship membership grows steadily and the need for expanded accommodation becomes apparent.
However, serious complications arise. After a dispute over ownership, Pastor Rodney gives up the property and decides to do his services on the Macoucherie Beach, transporting his congregation of over100 there in hired buses.
Later, he uses Garraway Hotel's conference room for services, but his congregation expands beyond its capacity and he knows he has to leave. The big question is: Where does he go?
That's when a miracle starts to unfold. Recognising his distress, a colleague and her husband allow him to use the plot of land where the church building stands today.
He sets up a tent and uses two 40-foot shipping containers-- one as an office and the other as a storeroom. This becomes his mission headquarters for seven years until the weather-beaten tent gives out.
He designs a shed and seeks funding to put it up.
"The miracle of this is . . . we went to put up a shed and we ended at putting up a building," Pastor Rodney says.
His congregation and the business community contribute in various ways. Within a month, the building is complete and he can also buy the land.
Pastor Rodney's rock-solid faith is based on experiences like these.
Originally from Coulibistrie, Rodney said that he heard an inspiring scripture in1975 and committed his life to God.
As a religious leader, he has overcome many challenges including one that rocked the core of his family. Also, his outspoken nature has made him many enemies.
"Because of where we are as a nation and the position the pastor must have in speaking the unadulterated word of God, you are challenged by the temptation not to speak God's word in favour of the benefit you might receive from someone else. . .
"As an individual, I have always stuck with the principle that God is first . . . I do not care about perks and the favours. . . That, in itself, poses other challenges. Not many doors are opened for you," he says.
But standing up for what he believes in has earned him the wrath of secular authorities who have even told people not to attend his church, he said.
"I speak about matters I am entitled to, and have been given the authority to, by the word of God. And that does not go down too well with a lot of people," he explains.
Some of his social commentary is political. In some schools of thought, politics and religion must not mix, but the pastor begs to differ.
"I am a taxpayer as much as I am a pastor. I subscribe to the tax of the country...I pay for goods. The cost of living affects me like everybody else. So socially, the argument falls flat. . .
"From a Biblical standpoint . . . governance of the nation should really be informed by scripture . . . governing authorities should be finding principles in the Bible by which to live and govern. . .
Yet the pastor's inclination to address social issues head-on sometimes earns the pastor friends-- or even family.
He recalls collaborating with a priest to steer youths away from the controversial 'passa-passa' [dance] that was taking root in Dominica. This led him to counsel a young deejay who later converted to Christianity and ended up becoming his son-in-law.
While Dominica is officially a Christian nation, Pastor Rodney doesn't see evidence of this, contending that being a Christian nation means being governed by Christian principles.
"Our leadership . . . must find its leaning on scripture...Dominica is not finding its leaning for leadership on scripture, so it can't be described as a Christian nation," he insists.
He adds, "But we are a very religious nation . . . because people stick to their denominations . . . It doesn't matter what the denomination does. . .
"We are religious; we are not godly. . . We are steeped in religion and we will stay there no matter what." The solution, he says, is the continual teaching and presentation of the enlightened word.
"You could vote for whoever you choose, but every person who really holds the Bible as true . . . holds the Bible as the Constitution must take their cue from scripture before they do any actions.
"All we can do is to educate people . . . point them constantly to the light . . . to what is God's expectation of us as a people.
In recent years, a major scandal affected his family deeply and thrust them all under public scrutiny when he was accused of a grave indiscretion.
It became the subject of a calypso. His children were angry, especially when someone urged his son dissociate himself from his father by changing his name.
But Pastor Rodney thanks God that his wife of 31 years and his children never gave up on him. One day, he confronted the calypsonian who admitted that he didn't even know what the pastor looked like.
Pastor Rodney pointed out that the calypsonian could have been sued because the song was not properly masked.
The pastor got some satisfaction from the fact that the man who started the scandal subsequently apologised to him and the entire church.
He continues to devote himself to the church, and says that newcomers might be surprised to find that worship there is a bit offbeat.
The pastor loves music, so one might hear him singing or conducting the worship choir.
Pastor Rodney has worked for several years in business and an insurance adjuster and was the manager of SAGICOR for some years. He also does construction work as a private contractor.
His greatest satisfaction comes from changing lives and he can relate compelling stories-- cancer going into remission after prayer; the lame walking again; sinful lives transformed and more-- all underscoring God's grace and mercy.
He relates these miracles with the relaxed assurance and easy charm of a polished and gifted speaker. This is why he is highly regarded as one of the most charismatic and influential pastors of his time.