Won By One To Jamaica was founded by 1989 by Henry Shaffer. A teacher and contractor at the time, Henry and eldest son, Josh, went to Jamaica to help with relief after Hurricane Gilbert devastated the island. One of the places the visited was the small, remote village of Harmons. With a desire to make an impact on a small community, Henry admits that God led him to Harmons.
If you had been to Harmons in the early years, you would understand why it could have only been by God’s leading that Won By One To Jamaica ended up there. Not many outsiders would intentionally come to Harmons -- even if they could have found it. While maintaining his primary home construction business, Henry began to take one or two groups a year. Because these experiences were so impacting, others wanted to come and the number of groups slowly increased. In the early years, there was never any intention of starting a larger ministry, but the number of requests kept coming.
Most recently, around 22 weeks of teams plan to serve in Harmons during a calendar year. That translates to over 850 volunteers coming to this small community and, among others things, almost 50 houses built. But from its earliest conception, the ministry is far more about developing relationships with the community, than about any physical structures being built.
We have learned that ministry -- true, impacting and lasting ministry -- is often messy. But it is miraculous how God uses people, baggage and all, whose lives are open to being changed and who are willing to be an agent of change in the lives of others. We have observed the disconnect that others often have with the people they are serving with which is usually a direct result of a lack of proximity. Our teams live, eat, work, sleep and worship right in the midst of the community we come to join. Team members spend nearly every waking minute with the community they have come to partner with.
Through everything Won By One To Jamaica does in our interactions with people we desire to let them know in words and in actions that they are loved, that they have worth and value as one who bears the image of God. We communicate to others that they too, are invited to join with God in His mission of restoring all the world unto Himself.