The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

March 9, 2013

Bolting ahead: OCC graduate making an impact in homeland of Jamaica

JOPLIN, Mo. — Errol Bolt calls his cousin, Usain Bolt, a legend in Jamaica. Though the latter has earned the title of Fastest Man in the World in the past two Olympics, it is the former who has reached a somewhat legendary status of his own through his work for God over the past three decades.

Errol, who was back at his alma mater, Ozark Christian College, last week to attend the annual Preaching-Teaching Convention, has been making great spiritual inroads in Jamaica ever since graduating from OCC in 1983.

Not many people have done more to further the Christian cause than this native Jamaican.

Reviving a struggling congregation

The first challenge facing Bolt upon his return to the Jamaican capital of Kingston was to bring his home church back to life. When Bolt left Kingston for college, Penwood Church of Christ had a membership of 300 people. When he returned, it had shrunk to 35.

Bolt said that dramatic decline was due to the Communist takeover of the country. However, when he returned, the government had changed back to a Democracy and his church asked him to take over as pastor.

It wasn't long, Bolt said, that the church began picking up members again and in the process opened a school for children from 3 to 8 years old.

"Our school went up to 250 students, and our church soon grew back to 300 members," said Bolt, who earned a master's degree in Christian counseling from Central Christian University in Kingston.

Bolt has the distinction of welcoming both the fastest man, Usain Bolt, and the fastest woman, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, as attendees at his church. Fraser-Pryce won the 100-meter dash in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

After 12 years of rebuilding his home church and engineering a Christian school, Bolt's ministry took on an even bigger challenge.

He and his wife, Carmen, a registered nurse, relocated to Kencot, Jamaica. There, Bolt put up a tent he had purchased in Miami, Okla., and began a six-week series of crusades. The nucleus from those highly successful crusades laid the groundwork for Bolt's second church, Kencot Christian Fellowship, which he started in 1996.

This church has proven to be a base for Bolt to minister through counseling and preaching at a variety of islands surrounding Jamaica. In addition, he has trained church leaders and teachers at those islands.

Some of the areas of his counseling expertise have included family life, pre-marital and crisis situations.

He was also named deputy chairman of Teen Challenge International, a Christ-centered drug-rehabilitation program, for Jamaica.

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