A new group of Christian youth is seeking to use the considerable talent that exists among its members to divert some of the negativity associated with the arts through involving Jesus and the use of Christian principles in their approach.
The iWitness Movement believes it can offer a change through a different approach with the use of various art forms.
To date members of the movement include directors Mervin Lawrence, spoken word poet and Lloyd Lowe, musician and singer; along with Taralyn Harris, contemporary singer; Iyesha Moore, audio-visual technician; Esther ‘Hadassah’ Thomas, contemporary singer; Shawn ‘ShawnE’ English, Hip-hop/Rap and contemporary artist; Jason ‘Radikal One’ Beaton, Hip-hop/Rap and Dancehall music; Kezia and Kezra Boyal, Hip-Hop/Rap and contemporary dancers; Shaquille Baird, Hip-hop/Rap and contemporary singer; Christian Sobers, musician’ Kerwayne Perry, spoken word poet; Corwain Cyrus, poet; Rondel ‘Disi’ Holder, Hip-hop/Rap and contemporary singer; and Royston Robinson Hip-Hop and Reggae singer.
The group was co-founded by Mervin and Lloyd in March.
The objective is to take the gospel to young people in secondary schools and to help influence them to improve their moral standards and ethics.
“Over the past few years we have noticed the drastic deterioration of students’ self-respect, moral ethics and values,” the group’s founders said. “Moreover, we’ve observed that most of the influence to disregard good morals, high self-esteem, self-respect, etc comes from the music and reality TV shows that are promoted and glorified by the media and in public transportation. For this reason we have chosen to use the same art forms our youths love to positively impact their lives. In planting this seed, we hope the teens would grow into better human beings, deviating from the devastating path they are currently on.”
Mervin highlighted that the purpose and function of the movement is to present the gospel to secondary school-aged children through the arts of Reggae, Hip-hop, Dancehall, Poetry and Dance with a few other additions. “With the use of these art-focuses, we hope to appeal to teens in an effort to encourage them – not only to be saved but to have their standards and morals lifted,” he said.
iWitness Movement believes that certain forms of music and other expression are bad influences on youth, pointing some dancehall music that glorifies sexual exploitation, gender-based violence, crimes, gang wars and other illegal and immoral activities. This, the group believes, rots and poisons the minds of youth. They believe they can change this through positive expression using their various talents.
The name iWitness is the product of a long train of thought about how young people could be influenced by the gospel and for a higher moral standard of living. The directors explained that “iWitness” is really two words in one, where the “i” represents the individual who takes the gospel (witnessing) to others. The “i” was made lower case and the “W” capitalised purposefully to represent the fact that the message must be seen as the higher purpose of the individual who is presenting
it. This was Mervin’s brainchild.
The iWitness movement is divided into two parts; the core group and the supporting group. The core group has four members: Lloyd, Mervin, Taralyn Harris, Iyesha Moore. The supporting group is the wider membership of gospel artistes and ministers who play an integral role in each production. This group also includes Pastor Kwame Wilson of Kaneville Full Gospel Fellowship, Dellon Thompson of Inter-School Christian Fellowship, Christian Sobers of Music Unlimited (Music school), Shawn English and Jason ‘Radikal One’ Beaton who are gospel ministers. These people’s appearances at any given event depends on their availability.
Asked how such a large but young group of artists stick together to make the movement possible, Mervin said the factor that links them is the common passion to see change effected in the lives of young people across the nation. “We all have persons from whom we have drawn some amount of inspiration… but as it relates specifically to the movement, our inspiration comes from the absence of an initiative like this in our schools,” he added.
iWitness has had two events in schools thus far: at Charlestown Government Secondary School and Freeburg Secondary School. At the Charlestown Secondary event, they enjoyed the spontaneity encouraged by the ministry of ShawnE and the general response, interaction and participation by students.
A memorable moment at the Freeburg Secondary was the ceremonial conversion of 69 students who gave their names as having received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
The iWitness Movement has taken its concerts into ministries and crusades as well. In the future the movement hopes to be well established and have a strong presence in both primary and secondary schools. The long-term plan includes expanding to have a street movement; prospectively ‘iWitness in the streets’ which will take the same format being utilised in the schools; that is ministering through the arts with a few additions, one being an exhortation. “Our vision is ultimately to take the gospel in a palpable format to the ends of the earth and to this goal we continue to strive,” Mervin said.
The iWitness Movement expressed its privilege to be associated with the Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF) and expressed thanks to its sole sponsor at present, Music Unlimited which provides instruments for each event free of charge.
The iWitness Movement would like to encourage interested persons to make contact via Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.