As a prime example of God's faithfulness through the ages, our very own Pastor Kelvin Mapp gives us an insight on how God has kept him throughout the many years as he ministered to the members sacrificially. Here, we will learn more about him, of his challenges, as he also shares his best kept secrets, plus, continues to encourage and edify the brethren with his words of wisdom. We truly thank God for him and his spirit of service, and our prayer is that in all respects he may prosper and be in good health, just as his soul prospers.
How did it all start with your attendance at St. Augustine Evangelical Bible Church?
I first started coming to the young people’s meeting on Friday evenings when the Church was at Sellier Street, Curepe. I was saved at an ISCF meeting in School in 1972 and then invited by Francis Warner, (my friend, of now over fifty years) to attend the youth meeting. I remembered that my first “Church responsibility” was coming early and arranging the wooden pews in different and creative formations for youth meetings.
What has been your secret to being faithful through the ages and being an active and long-standing member?
I believe that one of the key secrets to me being “faithful through the ages” is remaining focused on the Lord Jesus and continuing to grow in the knowledge and application of God’s Word. I recall in my early days of attendance at St. Augustine there were controversial issues which I did not fully understand, but I resolved not to take sides and to faithfully continue my commitment to Church participation and growing in my understanding of the Scriptures – to abide in the “place of blessing, so that I can continue to be blessed”.
Can you share your most valuable contributions you've made to the church?
What I consider to be amongst my most valuable contributions I have had with the church is the starting (with sister Janet Gill - nee Dillon), development and growth (with sister Helen Lewis) of the Young Adult Sunday School Class. It involved creating and mastering a new approach to doing Bible Study with Young Adults, in which their contributions - positive and negative - were key to their understanding, acceptance and eventual obedience to the Biblical text. Also there have been my contributions to the Pulpit Ministry over the years and involvement in Church Leadership from being a Youth Leader, Sunday School Teacher, Deacon, Elder, Chairman of the Board and recently, Pastor. In addition, I have been deeply involved in other ministries of the SAEBC including the Prayer Ministry and Benevolent Committee.
What has been your greatest challenge in dealing with St. Augustine?
Amongst my greatest challenges in dealing with St. Augustine is the carrying out of Church Discipline Procedures which often divided the SAEBC in different “camps” - leaving the Elders by themselves. Another big challenge was leading the Church in terminating the tenure of a particular Pastor at St. Augustine.
What do you think is needed in passing on the baton, do you see any areas or opportunities of growth for the St. Augustine family?
I am one who firmly believes that there is excellent potential and opportunities for growth for the St. Augustine family - given the wealth of spiritual gifts and other resources God has brought and invested in the Church. No-one who is attending, and has become a Church member, has done so by Chance. There are Divine Purposes at work. The opportunity is there for expanding the blessings, from personal growth experiences and revelations of God and His Word at St. Augustine (from the Pulpit and other ministries) to the “wider-and-wider” communities through the expansion of ON-LINE ministries and access. The “Digital Team” is key to this advancement. Other areas include – comprehensive family and marriage ministries, expansion in more regional and world-wide missions, mining the “evangelism and encouragement” depths of our music, choir, drama and dance ministries. At the same time, the Church will need to strengthen and reinforce its whole Sunday School and Young Peoples ministries, which form an important foundation for the other ministries of the Church. What “is needed in passing on the baton” is what is needed in ALL baton races, whether physical or spiritual – focus, commitment, consistency and sacrifice – of time, energy and effort.
Share a fond memory from your time at SAEBC.
A fond memory or memories with SAEBC would be of camps and camping over the years. The first “Young Peoples” planned and executed Carnival-time, Camp at Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas, the Young Adults Sunday School camps in Tobago and Toco and the well-planned and well-promoted SAEBC Church Camps in different locations in Trinidad. These were all times of memorable fellowship amongst the believers and of true increase and life-changing encounters with God and His Word. A close second would be the different wedding ceremonies over the years including those of Charmaine and Don Juan Acosta (when I did the very first of numerous wedding charges) my two daughters – Christal Reid and Emerald Lorde, Daniel and Ruthann Ramoutar (the biggest reception I have attended ) and the recent, Keisha and Saron Joseph (in the Covid season).
Even the doctor needs to be doctored and the counsellor needs counselling, who has been your greatest source of inspiration?
My source of inspiration has come from different key individuals at different stages of my spiritual growth over the years. In my early days Brother Goddard, a Christian Teacher at my school, proved to be a valued source of inspiration, together with those who led the Young Peoples Group in those days – Ron Harder, Arnold Doobay and Johnson Chang Fung. Then, there was the first Trinidadian pastor of SAEBC – Pastor Garnet Paris, who, amongst other things, took me with him and others to the first World Congress on Bible Exposition – lifting and changing my outlook and commitment to Bible Study and the Preaching Ministry. Thirdly, there are my favourite authors in my library at home – FF Bruce, Lenski, Wuest, J. Walwood and R. Zuck, E. Billinger – and of late Jewish teachers and writers including Martin Buber, the RAV and R.P. Bulka. I also want to highlight here those “iron sharpens iron” sessions with the other Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses of various SAEBC Boards. Finally, there is my closest “doctor and counsellor” of all – Marcelle, my wife of over forty years!
Tell us one interesting fact the members may not necessarily know about you.
I am a big fan of “Star Trek” and "The Matrix”, which are movie productions that have sought to challenge some of our common thinking and perspectives.
You have been undergoing some health challenges, how has God, and the members of SAEBC helped you during this time?
God has been very good and merciful during my recent health challenges. He placed key individuals, medical and otherwise, to help us along the way- including my daughter Emerald, the wound care specialists Dr. Alleyne and Dr. Boodoo, nursing assistant Lystra Richards and access to the Hyperbaric Medical facility in Tobago for advanced wound care treatment. The members of SAEBC have gone “above-and-beyond” expectation in their praying and physical support of us – those who called; supplied food and fruits for Marcelle while I was in hospital; those who were able to visit even during our time in Tobago. To ALL we say THANK YOU!
Where would you like to see SAEBC in the next 10 years?
I have said a lot of what may be applied here from my answer to question five (5). To add from the letter to Philippians 2:2– a Church becoming more and more of “one focus, one love, one spirit, and one mind”. Indeed, a Church that is not afraid to make big contributions to the Nation of Trinidad and Tobago and to face all the attention and criticism that come from seeking to impact at the national level. Also, I wish the Church to finally own and maximize the property to the east of us for the Lord’s honour and glory!
Do you have any advice, revelation, scripture or word of encouragement you'd like to give to the congregation as we continue to trust God?
I will share of “the word” that came to me from James 5: 7-11 and that word is “patience” - as a necessary virtue of the living on planet earth. First the author points to the “patient waiting” of the investor or farmer who must wait patiently for the expected return or harvest, since he has no control over the forces that produce them- vs.7-9. Then Bishop James speaks of the “patience in suffering” of the prophets of the Old Testament who, after delivering or sowing the word of God, often suffered patiently at the hands of their receivers before a “harvest” of true repentance and surrender to God was realized – vs 10-11a. Finally, the writer highlights the “patient endurance or perseverance” of Job who, in a God initiated, God controlled, God terminated, God rewarded season of deep trial, “sowed hope” in the character of God and reaped “victory in his latter life” – vs 11b and Job chapter 42. “Let (patience or) perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”- James 1:4 - even in the difficult, but passing, season of Covid-19.