Despite being on the cusp of retiring from official office, Apostle Vincent James is musing on the next soul to be won for his maker’s kingdom.
“I will travel and minister until my time comes to depart this life,” declares the preacher extraordinaire, who was baptized as far back as April 16, 1961.
He made the big move at age 15 after accepting an invitation to attend a meeting at the then Apostolic Church of Jamaica, which, at the time, was headed by a Canadian missionary, Ray Naylor. That sanctuary has been renamed the Apostolic Church of Jamaica Miracle Tabernacle.
It is located in St. Ann’s Bay – the parish capital where Apostle James was raised by his paternal grandmother, Mary Tulloch.
Apostle James was actually born in his mother’s parish of St. Mary, but his family eventually relocated to his father’s native St. Ann.
When he was two years old, his mother, Emecia Lawrence-James, passed away at Lime Hall in St. Ann.
Four years later, Apostle James’ father, Edwin, left him in the care of his paternal grandmother in St. Ann’s Bay, specifically at 24 Market Street that is now known as Marcus Garvey Way.
Apostle James spent the next 32 years of his life in that north coast town, where he attended St. Ann’s Bay Primary School.
“My father and grandmother didn’t have the money to send me to high school,” he recalled, adding that he resorted to reading a lot on his own.
Unlike his father and brothers who all worked in the construction industry, Apostle James developed a penchant for electronics.
And he found a great tutor in a man named Hugh Dickinson. “In his business-place, Mr Dickinson had a lot of books. I would study these books because I wanted to become the best technician in Jamaica,” Apostle James told The Beacon.
He eventually worked on contract as an electronic technician for the Jamaica Hiton Hotel, now known as Jewel Runaway Bay Resort in St. Ann.
He also rented a store in St. Ann’s Bay and, from there, he repaired radios, television sets, electronic irons and other items of the sort.
“My ambition was to live in the United States, educate myself there and then return to Jamaica and build factories where we would assemble television, radio and anything electrical,” Apostle James said. Positioning himself for that lofty dream, he ended up pursuing courses administered by the National Technical School based in America.
But other things were in the offing.
Apostle James gave up business at age 32 and became fully immersed in religious work. By that time, he already served his church as national youth leader, deacon, elder, and evangelist.
He became a national evangelist and went into full-time ministry in August 1978 – the same year he closed his business and relocated to Manchester to lead three churches there.
“During my time in Manchester, I helped to establish another nine churches,” said the clergyman, who became an apostle in 1984.
He eventually left Manchester after living and working there for 26 years.
In 1987, Apostle James started to travel and preach in several countries including the United States, England, Canada, Australia, Wales, South Africa, and many Caribbean islands.
He lived in Canada on two occasions.
He and a Canadian friend, in the late 1990s, took a bold step and established a school in Turks and Caicos Islands. They named it TCI Technical School.
“That school was so successful that the government of Turks took it over,” Apostle James said.
In 2015, he returned to Jamaica for good. “I have had several opportunities to migrate, but I usually go right back to my roots,” he noted.
Since resettling in his homeland, Apostle James has been overseeing his church’s Area Three group, comprising apostolic churches in St. Ann, St. James and Trelawny.
He is now leaving that post in which he served for six years.
“I would like to be remembered as someone who served Almighty God and helped to influence people to follow Him,” the apostle said, adding that he has inspired thousands of people to take up Christianity.
His life, however, has not been only about religion.
He is a quintessential family man.
He wedded Gwendolyn in December 1970 when he was 24 years old and she was three years his junior.
She became the mother of his children – Marvin, Karen and Marsha.
“It takes a good wife beside you to accomplish all I have accomplished,” Apostle James declared. “I could not have done it by myself; my wife is always there with me.”
And he is always there with her too.
“My husband is a loving person who works hard to maintain his family; his children also adore him,” Mrs. James told The Beacon. “He has a shepherd’s heart for people, and people – both young and old – gravitate to him everywhere he goes.”
A deaconess, Mrs. James has no regret making sacrifices upon sacrifices for her husband to carry out his religious duties.
“With both of us being Christians, it wasn’t a hard decision. I know that, in the end, he is doing it only for Jesus,” she further reasoned.
Her other half, by now, has formulated an idea as to why he is usually entrusted with church leadership.
“If I am real and genuine and people see that, they will gravitate to Almighty God under my leadership,” he postulates, confident that he delivered leadership that is “real and genuine”.
By Horace Mills, Managing Editor
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