Rev Desmond Austin

The kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt is not a mere crime, but a sign that evil is roaming the land, according to Rev Desmond Austin of the Trinidad and Tobago Council of Evangelical Churches (TTCEC).

The TTCEC was one of several faith-based organisations that have stepped forward to offer prayers for all those hurt by Bharatt’s murder and to call for swift justice.

“Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” Austin said in a release on behalf of the TTCEC.

Noting that the nation is once again in pain because of evil work, he said crime is not only a societal problem, but it is first a spiritual one.

“An evil work manifests itself in its destructive influence in rapes, murders, violence, kidnappings and of course the sordid catalogue is endless. The pain of this scourge reminds us that the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. The only sure cure for the healing of the human heart is the love of God. His love brings healing to hearts torn apart by evil.

”Austin said that apart from God’s love, the execution of swift justice is the solution to an evil work. If crimes are unpunished, evil leads to entrenched habits.

He said it was as though wrongdoing has become acceptable, so justice is not the settling of a score, but a reminder to criminals of the forfeiture of their rights and privileges. He believes the execution of swift justice will make criminals understand there are repercussions for their crimes.

Austin appealed to criminals to turn to Jesus Christ and said churches across the country are ready to offer prayer and counselling to all who need it at this time. He also urged people who know about crimes to speak up as police can solve many cases through timely intervention.

The Fellowship of Arima Ministers (FAM) formerly known as Arima for Jesus, condemned the “sadistic murder” of Bharatt. FAM said congregants from churches in Arima had been praying for Bharatt’s safe return after her disappearance became public and the news of her death had saddened faith communities.

“Andrea Bharatt regularly attended the Word of Life Christian Assembly located on the Arima Old Road. Her untimely death is a reminder of the degeneration of moral and spiritual values in our society as well as the disregard for human life,” the group said.

“FAM is deeply concerned by the state of crime and violence in the Borough of Arima and our nation. These crimes include violence against women, kidnappings, robberies, and church break-ins. FAM is ready to partner with the Police and Borough in finding ways to combat crime and restore peace to the community.”

The Christian Youth Foundation noted that Bharatt’s murder occurred less than three months after San Juan teenager Ashanti Riley suffered a similar fate. In a statement, the Foundation said everyone has a role to play in fixing society and can no longer blame the government, teachers, religious leaders and influencers. It said families need to support one another and train their children to be upstanding and moral members of society.

“Families can do more than simply post bail for their relatives. They are to meet the primary needs and provide love (free of charge) to each other,” the foundation stated.

It also noted that criminal gangs are providing homes for at-risk youth and become the support system that neither they nor society needs. The group called on the government to set up a task force consisting of experts to produce policies and legislation to eliminate violence against women. It also wants psychological support for victims of crime and their families.

“As Christians, we believe there is neither male nor female, Jew nor gentile all lives are important and should be treated with the utmost respect, which brings us back to the most important commandments of love.”