Who is ACE?

we-areWE ARE a Christ-based outreach ministry dedicated to community transformation in the parish of St.Mary, Jamaica through strategic initiatives in education, enterprise, healthcare, and discipleship.

HOW WE DO IT. ACE enables volunteers to join in its outreach through a variety of hands-on experiences. Individuals and groups from all over the world come to volunteer their talents and know-how, which helps provide self-sustaining solutions to local problems, and in turn, empowers the people of St. Mary, Jamaica.

THE IMPACT With more than 20 years experience working in Jamaica and a deep understanding and passion for the country, ACE serves as a model for successful community outreach. Additionally, while making a direct impact during their time in Jamaica, volunteers often return home with a new understanding and passion for service which results in continued ministry to those in need throughout the globe.


Marla Fitzwater, Founder and Executive Director of ACE, arrived on the island in 1988 coordinating short-term mission teams to work in Jamaica. Her work began to form what is now ACE.

During the early years, Marla quickly observed that those receiving the primary benefit from volunteer efforts were actually the people and organizations who were serving. These visitors were touched by the experience and inspired to continue serving others upon returning home. Ironically, the local community had not experienced any long lasting change. Despite the projects and improvements, the community inevitably returned to a poverty state physically, mentally and most of all, spiritually. She also learned that poor healthcare and lack of education was a reality and that without improvements in those two basic areas, people just wouldn’t have a chance to grow and flourish the way God intended.

Through these tough lessons, the strategy for ACE’s outreach was born. To this day, our ministry focuses in four main areas of Impact: education, healthcare, enterprise, and discipleship.

Our Beliefs

About the Scriptures
We believe the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God and that men were moved by the Spirit of God to write the very words of Scripture. Therefore, we believe the Bible is without error.

About God
We believe in one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus Christ is the second member of the Trinity and (the Son of God) who became flesh to reveal God to humanity and to become the Savior of the lost world.

About Humanity
We believe that all people were created in the image of God to have fellowship with him but became alienated in that relationship through sinful disobedience. As a result, people are incapable of regaining a right relationship with God through their own efforts.

About Salvation
We believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross, provides the sole basis for the forgiveness of sin. Therefore, God freely offers salvation to those who place their faith in the death and resurrection of Christ as sufficient payment for their sin.

About the Christian Life
We believe all Christians should live for Christ and not for themselves. By obedience to the Word of God and daily yielding to the Spirit of God, every believer should mature and be conformed to the image of Christ.

About the Church
We believe that the church is the body of Christ, of which Jesus Christ is the head. The members of the church are those who have trusted by faith the finished work of Christ. The purpose of the church is to glorify God by loving him and by making him known to the lost world.






The negative impact of poverty is most deeply felt by the youngest and most vulnerable part of the community—the children. Like Jesus in Matthew 19, ACE believes it is our duty to welcome these children with open arms, offering them love and protection. We are committed to give the children of our community a chance to break out of the cycle of poverty by empowering them to reach their full potential by being educated, cared for, and in good health.

ACE operates several programs to meet the needs of our children:

Child Sponsorship- Funded by generous sponsors across the globe, the Child Sponsorship Program provides students in need with meals, backpacks, school supplies, school uniforms, shoes, tutoring, healthcare, and even a square foot garden at their house!
Teacher to Teacher- Headed up by Marie Underwood, our Teacher to Teacher Program invites teachers from the US to come and work with our teachers in Jamaica for a cross-cultural exchange. The feedback has been extremely positive and impactful on both ends!
Physical Education- Students in ACE partner schools benefit from weekly P.E. classes which not only give the students the healthy exercise they need, but also provide a positive outlet for their energy and enable them to better focus in class.
Tutoring- Sponsored students receive personalized tutoring. ACE mission trip teams get involved in working hands on with the students in the tutoring program.
VBS- During the month of July, our summer teams host Vacation Bible Schools in various local communities. Together we reach close to 1,000 children through VBS each summer!
There is an old proverb, “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” History proves that lasting change in a poverty culture is achieved by empowering the people to reach their full potential and become self-sustaining. ACE is invested in our community long-term and in conjunction with our partners in the US, we are identifying the circumstances of those around us in order to find real solutions for their unique needs.

Learn more about our Micro-enterprise Program

The ministry of Jesus on earth was teaching and healing. Rarely is there one without the other. We have found that if you talk about the love of God but fail to meet the basic and urgent needs of the people, it might as well be hypocrisy.

By partnering with medical groups from the US, ACE holds quarterly medical clinics throughout the parish. In working with the Jamaican Ministry of Health, our teams are able to make regular visits to the government clinics, enabling these communities to receive the care and treatment they so desperately need. By holding regular clinics, the health problems of the communities are treated regularly therefore decreasing the acuteness of the illnesses.

Being a beacon for Christ is the fundamental purpose of everything we do. Equally important is how we do it. Our duty is to let His light penetrate the darkness by being love in action.

We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk… because faith without action is dead. As we are often asked why we do what we do, the answer is simply, the door is open for us to lead the way for children and families to experience a relationship with their Saviour, so we are seizing the opportunity and partnering with Christ. We work with our local church to ensure continued spiritual growth and care.

Building Projects-
Our building projects always benefit the entire community and use 100% block, steel and concrete construction to ensure long-term viability. In Jamaica, though, it’s not as simple as calling a company to deliver concrete to a worksite. We make concrete the way our grandmothers made cookies…from scratch.

Community Discipleship- Discipleship is intentionally incorporated into everything we do. In addition to one-on-one discipleship efforts, ACE coordinates and hosts conferences for more in depth mentoring and outreach to men, women, business people and couples.

In order to strive for excellence in every way, we continually ask our volunteer teams to give us their feedback when they return from a trip. The below ratings and comments were the results of 170 anonymous survey responses.

Overall Experience

Pre-Trip Process

Time in Jamaica

Quality of Service


Overall the mission trip is excellent! I tell everyone I talk to about the trip that this is one of the best experiences we have had in the 20 plus years I’ve been taking teams on mission trips.

We are always talking about ACE and Jamaica with everyone we meet, fellow friends in the ministry, etc. There hasn’t been any reason to not recommend ACE.

I think that the organization of the trip was excellent! I was able to remove myself from my normal middle class life for the time to serve there in Jamaica. It was wonderfully thought out as to take time on Sunday prior and Friday after to focus on our time there with the people of Jamaica.

This trip has changed me. I met God in a way that I have never experienced in my life. I hope I impacted some folks last week, because they changed me. Betweeen the staff, the Jamaicans I met and my team, I found God in them every day.

Just can’t say enough about the leadership of ACE and our own leadership as well to make this trip a rewarding experience for everyone involved. I pray the people of Jamaica are half as blessed as we are by our presence there.

The impact we were able to make on the Jamaican community was possible due to the outstanding planning and coordination that was very obvious in every event we supported.