Sun, Aug 31st 2008, 12:00 AM
Mark Beckford has a forgiving heart. The Taylor University college senior was shot a couple months ago in the Bahamas, but is now friends with his assailant.
If the 36-year-old Beckford hadn?t changed his life around, he wouldn?t be where he is today, on the Taylor University campus.
In high school, Beckford was a top athlete and even earned a scholarship to a university. But all he could think about was fighting. He couldn?t leave the gang life ? he was a leader and other gang members looked up to him, he said.
?I was only thinking about right then and there.?
He turned down the scholarship to ?hang with the boys,? he said. The gang members fought and protected one another against rivals, he said. One day in 1997, a murder occurred in Nassau, where Beckford lived. Though he didn?t commit the crime, Beckford was arrested because police thought he was involved. In jail, Beckford said he prayed that if he got out of jail he would turn his life around. Fortunately, he said, he had the opportunity to do that. A day later, another shooting happened and the police caught the suspect. Beckford was released from jail.
?When I came out of the cell, I came out praying,? he said.
At that point, Beckford vowed to change his life around, and he did.
A couple years later, however, Beckford?s son started traveling down the same path as him. To try to help is son with his problems, Beckford began playing basketball with him. Before he knew it, almost 300 other boys were on the court playing with them. Basketball with the youth gave Beckford the idea to begin a youth ministry to help troubled children in the Bahamas.
?Mentoring and being there for individuals is very key,? he said. ?Patience helped me grow.?
He and his wife, Maggie, started the program in 2001 and called it the Joshua and Esther Foundation. The worldwide foundation is a nonprofit organization that partners with parents, community members and other ministries to provide religious support and encouragement to children in the Bahamas.
Beckford has since gone back to school. He met someone in the Bahamas who is the grandson of a former president at Taylor, who asked him if he wanted to attend the college. Beckford plans to graduate in the spring with a degree in Biblical literature and ministry.
?It?s a challenge, but it?s a learning experience,? he said about going back to school. ?For me, it?s a great experience to broaden the mind.?
June 17, Beckford was ministering to a group of people in the Bahamas when someone came up and shot him in the back of the upper leg. The suspect was Larvardo Fordes, or ?Ducky? as the gang members called him. Ducky was a member of the same gang, and Beckford said he had looked up to Beckford as a youth.
?His grudge was that Mark caused him to go to jail,? Maggie Beckford said.
Ehen Beckford was playing basketball one day three years ago, Ducky was trying to sell a gun near the court. Beckford asked him to leave and even told him he?d buy the gun so he would go. Ducky robbed Mark and took his money and the gun. Beckford turned Ducky in for the crime. After the incident, Ducky was out for vengeance, Beckford said.
Jason North, Beckford?s friend who is filming a documentary on Beckford, said the shooting victim recovered quickly.
?By the time I got down there, I couldn?t even tell he was shot,? North said.
During his stay at the hospital, doctors had to move Beckford from room to room to keep him in hiding because Ducky wanted to come back to finish the job, the student said.
Recently, Beckford ran into another gang member, who said Ducky had seen Beckford on a television show, talking about how he forgave Ducky for shooting him. The man told Beckford that Ducky wanted to reconcile ? and they did. They even marched together during a peace march this summer. He said Ducky is trying to get away from the gang life now, too.
Maggie Beckford said the reconciliation made her feel relieved. She felt much pressure having to hide her husband in the hospital and was afraid to go out into the streets, she said.
?It was really awful, knowing somebody is out there ?? she said. ?You don?t know how God?s working on the other side. It was horrific to watch. It was hard for me to let him go anywhere by himself.?
Maggie Beckford said Ducky is awaiting trial. The couple don?t want him to just go to jail, because that wouldn?t make him change, she said.
Mark Beckford said forgiveness is a powerful tool.
?It shows that, when God does something, both individuals need to benefit,? he said.
Check out Marks foundation website here
By Mishele Wright
Sat, Aug 30th 2008, 12:00 AM
TROPICAL STORM HANNA ADVISORY NUMBER 9
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL082008
500 AM AST SAT AUG 30 2008
...HANNA HEADING WESTWARD WITH LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH...
INTERESTS IN THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS AND THE SOUTHEASTERN
BAHAMAS SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF HANNA.
FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...INCLUDING POSSIBLE
INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED
BY YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE.
AT 500 AM AST...0900Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM HANNA WAS
ESTIMATED NEAR LATITUDE 21.9 NORTH...LONGITUDE 66.3 WEST OR ABOUT
240 MILES...390 KM...NORTH OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO AND ABOUT 310
MILES ...500 KM...EAST OF GRAND TURK ISLAND.
HANNA IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST NEAR 12 MPH...19 KM/HR. A GRADUAL
TURN TO THE WEST-NORTHWEST IS EXPECTED LATER TODAY FOLLOWED BY A
TURN BACK TO THE WEST ON SUNDAY.
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS REMAIN NEAR 50 MPH...85 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS FORECAST TODAY BUT HANNA COULD
BE NEAR HURRICANE STRENGTH ON SUNDAY.
TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 115 MILES...185 KM
MAINLY TO THE NORTHEAST OF THE CENTER.
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1001 MB...29.56 INCHES.
RAIN BANDS ASSOCIATED WITH HANNA COULD PRODUCE RAINFALL
ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 2 INCHES ACROSS PORTIONS OF THE LEEWARD
REPEATING THE 500 AM AST POSITION...21.9 N...66.3 W. MOVEMENT
TOWARD...WEST NEAR 12 MPH. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH.
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1001 MB.
THE NEXT ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER AT
1100 AM AST.
Wed, Aug 27th 2008, 12:00 AM
Cornelius Smith, ambassador of the Bahamas to the U.S., will meet with Detroiters in the tourism, real estate and construction industries Friday at two Booker T. Washington Business Association events.
The purpose is to promote business opportunities for people in both countries.
The forums are co-sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber and Global Automotive Alliance.
Deputy Director of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, David Johnson, and the president of the Grand Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, Gregory Moss, also will attend the events.
?The goal is to create opportunities for businesses in Southeastern Michigan ? without (those businesses) leaving Southeastern Michigan,? said Booker T. Washington Business Association President Bill Ross.
A breakfast meeting titled ?Business Partnerships with the Bahamas? will be held at 8 a.m. at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. At 2 p.m., the MGM Grand Detroit will host a presentation and networking reception.
Events will serve to identify opportunities for business partnerships between Detroit and the Bahamas, Ross said. He cited the construction industry as an example, pointing out that a partnership in the Bahamas could allow a company to work there in the slow season without moving out of state.
By Christiana Schmitz
Tue, Aug 26th 2008, 12:00 AM
The Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced Monday evening that the strike action at the Morton Salt Company at Inagua has ended.
As a result of conciliation talks at the Ministry Monday, both Morton Salt management and the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union have agreed to refer all outstanding trade disputes to the Industrial Tribunal for final determination.
It has also been agreed that a binding arbitration process will be established to conciliate all further disputes between management and the union.