Some 200 young people gathered at the Grand Pavilion courtyard on Oct. 7 to hear stories of gang life and redemption from a man who says he spent his formative years in some of the most impoverished, disadvantaged and dangerous areas of south Florida.

Willy Ramos described how his life was radically transformed from “a hard-core ghetto leader” to an international evangelist, cartoonist, comedian, and author – even though he professes not to be able to read, according to a press release issued by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The evangelist was invited to the Cayman Islands by the Solid Rock Ministries, an outreach arm of the church, to speak at the event.

A large segment of the audience consisted of invitees from two non-Adventist churches, one in George Town and the other in Bodden Town. Also attending were Clifton Hunter High School students, who had an opportunity to hear Mr. Ramos’s story at the school earlier that day.

A group poses at the end of the Willy Ramos youth service at the Grand Pavilion.
A group poses at the end of the Willy Ramos youth service at the Grand Pavilion.

At the end of his speech, more then three dozen youth responded to the altar call, during which about 30 made a commitment to be baptized, according to the release.

Mr. Ramos said that the youth who came to the altar disclosed that “they never heard something like this before – they were moved, they were crying,” he said.

Willie Ramos in his engaging presentation at the Grand Pavilion youth service.
Willie Ramos in his engaging presentation at the Grand Pavilion youth service.

Explaining the ethos of Solid Rock Ministries, Pastor Sethres Dixon said there are 40-50 people worshiping in the informal home setting where they meet weekly. In the release, he acknowledged that, like the Friday night Grand Pavilion meeting, “there is nothing conventional” about what they are doing.

“Seeing young people coming forward and giving their life to God is just an amazing experience,” said Mark Scotland, who was involved in organizing the weekend function and has been a supporter of Solid Rock Ministries initiatives in recent years.

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  1. While not always, these strategies fail in the long term, whether in prevention of violence and criminal behaviour, or substance abuse, due to a paradoxical effect well intended people rarely think through.

    These testimonial strategies present real life stories, sometimes using celebrities, who share their dramatic experiences with crime or drugs with the audience.

    Adults understand perfectly the preventive message, yes, but adolescents get a different message.

    So while the adult understand the core message as “look at the errors into which I incurred, and avoid them” the adolescent concludes “look at this guy, he incurred into criminality/substance abuse, and then he could quit and is now successful”.

    These approaches have proven once and again to fail, but due to their intrinsic dramatic presentation, photo-opportunities and media-friendliness, they continue to be used.

  2. I believe that Mr. Gerardo is on to something about the Human behaviors , just look at the facal expression of the three young ladies in the cover photo of the article , the one in the middle seems to be understanding and taking what he’s saying a different way .

    I think that when these sorts of things that are supposed to be done for the benefits for the KIDS , should not be done in a life story style , but more in a booth camp way / style . This would cause the kids to think more about their future and change behavior if it needs to be changed and what would happen if you engage in bad behavior .