Most people don't realize how high the crime rates are in The Bahamas. Because it is a VERY small country...only about 319,000 people total among the 8 or so inhabited islands. The Bahamas' 2011 murder count was 127, with 110 of those murders taking place on our small 21x7 mile island of approx. 250,000 people. That's about 1 murder for every square mile of this island or one murder for every 2200 people. Three weeks ago, one of those murders hit home for one of our church members. Patrice, a lovely single lady who has served us faithfully in the area of childcare, received a call on Tuesday, April 24th telling her that Don Newbold, her brother in law, was murdered around 1 pm that afternoon, shot several times and left dead in his vehicle on a road paralleling a major road here in Nassau. He left behind some older children, a wife and 22 month old son. We thank God that Don knew his Savior, but the loss is great.
At the funeral, nobody seemed all that shocked that Don's death was a murderous one. That's not because Don dealt with dangerous people, quite the contrary, but because murder has become so common here. The Bahamas' death rate was 6.91 per 1,000 people in 2012, so based on the murder numbers, which are on the rise, one in 14 deaths here every year (and rising) is a murder. Most of these murders are related to the drug trafficking. Home invasions, petty theft, rape, human trafficking, drug trafficking, armed robbery, and murder are all on the rise here at an alarming rate. Just in the 10 months we have been here, 2 women in our church had attempted home invasions, and 2 more woman had car break-ins in our church parking lot. A few weeks ago at a playground on the beach, my purse was ransacked while it was out of my eyesight. I only lost a camera and $30, but it was a disturbing occurence when I realized what had happened.
Now one church member has a murder in her family. Kingdom Life Church is just a small piece of the Nassau pie, representing about 100 total people. The people of The Bahamas are in general, a peaceful, hospitable, friendly people. They are not violent. But now they are concerned for their country. Many church members can recall the days when nobody locked their doors, when young people answered with "yes ma'am, no ma'am" and The Bahamas was a welcoming place to live. Today people stay behind their gated walls, bars over their windows and security alarms turned on, even when it is daytime and they are inside the house. It has slowly occurred to us that the reason you will never find a "24-hour" store here is because the crime at night would keep people from shopping anyway and most people won't venture out at night unnecessarily. Such are the realities here in "paradise." We are reminded that for all the beauty of the beaches and palm trees most people love and enjoy, there is an equally formidable darkness at work. We pray that God will begin to mightily save the souls of men here in this country. We pray He will protect His church from violence. We pray the children here will grow up knowing the love of Christ and will become a generation of change for this country. Our times are in His hands.