Today I embark on the task of telling the world about the man I know as Al Miller; someone who over the years, I have come to call ‘Uncle Al’. He is a man of integrity, passion, and most of all someone who has a love for Jamaica that is beyond any I have ever seen. Over the course of the last several years, I have noticed many who have attempted to tarnish his character, and judge his actions without full knowledge of the issues/circumstances surrounding accusations made against him. I have known Uncle Al enough to say unreservedly that he will always place the national good above self. I have no reason to question his integrity, and I am alarmed by those who remain ignorant of the circumstances concerning the recently concluded trial, but yet choose to condemn him.
In the over 20 years that I have known Uncle Al, I have always seen him going above and beyond in service to his church community, and to a greater extent, service to Jamaica in pursuit of his spiritual conviction. One thing that has remained constant is his insistence on service that is exercised according to a belief system rooted in biblical principles. On several occasions I have had the privilege to observe his actions, which spoke magnitudes about the type of man he is. One such moment occurred several years ago when his home was burglarized. A few days after the home invasion, he received information about the persons connected with the robbery and he reported it to the police. The police were reluctant to go after the alleged perpetrators for fear of the community in which they (the alleged criminals) were located, which was under the control of an area leader. Realizing that the body set up for the enforcement of laws was reluctant to act, Uncle Al decided to go to the community and confront the alleged individual who committed the burglary. As a man of faith, Uncle Al had every reason to go in and demand his items be returned. Instead, he spoke to the person involved and was able to calmly convince him to return the stolen merchandise. Needless to say, the items were returned. In that very moment, Uncle Al showed not only compassion, but also what it meant to forgive. He had an acute awareness of the circumstances that existed which could have led to someone feeling the need to commit such an act, but at the same time understood the value of learning to forgive.
Al Miller is a man of strong conviction, one who does not conform to the confines that society and religion may choose to dictate. Why? Because his conviction goes beyond formality. It is one rooted in a strong foundation with God, as well as an awareness of the need for all persons to live their life in accordance with biblical teachings and a willingness to be open to how God leads those who follow Him. To grasp the very concept of the aforementioned statement would entail a deep connection with what it means to live a purpose driven life. It was this conviction that allowed Uncle Al to go beyond convention and host events such as “Culture Clash,” which shook the religious community by showing that Christians aren’t meant to ostracize the lost, but to find ways to connect with them to demonstrate the love of God which surpasses all understanding. In so doing, I saw a number of people led to Christ because they realized that they were not too broken or too lost to be saved. For a moment, they realized that the love of God did not mean condemnation; it meant mercy.
Uncle Al has always taught me that many are too quick to condemn, but slow to realize that in condemnation we fail to see what’s good. The rationale being that we spend so much time condemning each other that we fail to realize that which unifies us. As Jamaicans, instead of condemning each other, we need to seek that which uplifts us, and work on finding critical solutions to the problems that tarnish our national reputation and ruin the moral fabric of the Jamaican society. It’s no wonder why the pivotal message of his (Al Miller’s) ministry is service to God and to country – Uplifting our great nation so that it can be the beacon it was meant to be to the world. Every action and every project that uncle Al participates in, is rooted in making Jamaica a better place. I will not soon forget the day I saw him take up the Jamaican flag in one of his sermons and began to sing the national anthem. With every utterance of the word ‘Jamaica’, his voice began to crack. He sang, “Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love”, with tears streaming down his face, and the flag firmly grasped in his right hand. In that moment I saw a man committed to a destiny, one which said that we should do all we can to lift up Jamaica in every aspect of our lives, from family, to church, to nation building.
His love translated into action as he oversaw the launch of projects like the Build Jamaica Foundation, which encouraged those who could, to make a monetary annual contribution that would see funds invested in programs that would facilitate growth in our island home. It was this passion that again saw him serving as the chaplain for the Jamaican football team, the Reggae Boyz. The team which saw our beloved island becoming the first English speaking Caribbean country to make it to the World Cup finals. His efforts didn’t stop there, as I remember vividly seeing him campaign to give service to his country from the political platform. He did so out of the conviction that if true change was to occur in Jamaica, Christians had to be committed to pursuing posts in leadership and government that would help to build the foundation necessary for national growth and prosperity.
It is countless actions like those mentioned above, which left no doubt in my mind that during the extradition saga that gripped the island in 2010, the Reverend Al Miller was acting in a capacity he has on many previous occasions. The fact that he agreed to transport Christopher “Dudus” Coke to the U.S. Embassy, demonstrated a willingness to put a stop to the bloodshed that ensued in the hunt for his (Dudus’) capture. Over 70 Jamaicans lost their lives as security forces went in search of Christopher Coke. Innocent civilians were being extra-judiciously executed. Therefore I found the actions of Rev. Miller justifiable. He wasn’t doing anything outside of the purview of what he has done on several occasions in the past. Law enforcement officials know this. In fact, there are a number of other members of the clergy that have actively assisted in surrendering known criminals/fugitives. I have no reason to doubt the actions of Rev. Miller. The person I know is a principled man who has always acted in the best interest of the country. Any attempt to unduly chastise him and tarnish his character is one borne out of sheer ignorance. He is perhaps one of the greatest representations of what it means to be Jamaican. Unwavering in his commitment to country, God and family. I stand proudly in support.
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