Jamaica and Jesus: How I overcame depression

I could barely move.  The life was sucked right out of me.  For the first time in my life, I felt like I lost all momentum, all reason for being.  It was hard to get out of bed; thoughts of regret and failure were constantly invading my mind.  I didn’t want to move, but I had to get up because it was time to go on a short-term mission trip for which I signed up.  I thought maybe I could do some good and help people less fortunate than myself. Little did I know, this mission trip would literally change MY life!

I packed up and headed to my mentor, Crystal Rogers, home.  (I could write a whole blog on just how awesome “Momma Crystal” is but that will be for another day.)  Crystal, Stephanie and I headed off to Jamaica, but not just for the beaches, sunshine, and amazing music it’s known for.  We were embarking on a journey to lift up the local church. Our theme was “Cultivate”; we studied the parable of the sower, and memorized scriptures.  We were ready to do God’s work, or so I thought.

What I didn’t expect was the lift my soul received.  From day ONE, I began to notice there was something different in the Jamaican Christians that we were staying with.  They woke up early and were singing praises to our God. Most of the time their praises were my alarm clock – how awesome was that!!! They didn’t mind doing what Americans consider “lowly” positions such as cooking, cleaning, and chauffeuring.  My new friends taught me what “No problem” and “Every little thing is going to be alright,” really mean. The way they lived, treated each other and treated me healed the worst depression I have ever faced.

Ok, the sunshine helped too {insert wink face}; but more than sunshine, here are three things I learned from the Jamaican church to overcome depression.  

1. Serving is the greatest thing we can do in the Kingdom.

Brother Seymour, a tall joyful Jamaican man told me that we must all learn to entertain strangers, for by doing so we may be entertaining angels.  Although my passport picture clearly showed I was no angel, my Jamaican family treated me like I was. Not only did they treat me, Stephanie and “Boss Lady” (Crystal) like we were angels, they served one another with the purest love I have ever seen.  

The American church has focused so much on leadership that I am afraid many of us forget the importance of serving each other. The Bible says that our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who took on the nature of a servant (paraphrased from Philippians Chapter 2).  What I saw in Brother Seymour, Brother Rose, Sister Kemisha, and so many other dear Jamaican Christians was the pleasure they received in serving.  The way they served others made me want to serve with greater enthusiasm.

As I began to lay my rights down and pick up the nature of a servant, I found my joy returning. Who knew when you get your mind off your own needs and think about other people, it really does make you a happier person. My depression started to fade and I made a vow to go home with a greater aspiration and inspiration to serve others.  

2. Honor one another at all times.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10NIV). The Jamaican church has honor down!  Men and women are both pastors and leaders. Both genders are honored and respected for the gifts they carry.  They are treated equally and because of that, the gifts of the Spirit have the freedom to operate. There was no vying for a position.  Instead of competing they commend and uplift one another!

The Jamaican church has a saying, “Big Up” which means, “Let’s take time to recognize and appreciate each other”.  One of the Jamaicans explained to me that they don’t wait until someone dies and then say amazing things about them at their funeral.  He went on to say, we believe in living heroes. I witnessed this firsthand, during church. The pastor’s wife sang the famous Bette Midler song, “Wind Beneath My Wings” to Crystal. You see, Crystal Rogers really is her hero, because she has invested 14 years of building a relationship with the local church, bringing them encouragement and lift.  

Can you imagine how much better our churches would be if we seized the moment and truly honored one another? If you have a living hero, why wait until they die to show them appreciation?  Be like the Jamaican church, seize the day, and honor them now. Pastor Devon, the Jamaican pastor and overseer of many Jamaican churches, set the example in honoring people. It seemed like he knew every single person on the island, and every person he knew was blessed because of how he esteemed them.  He has such a humble heart and honoring people seemed to come naturally to him. The more I watched him and his church honor others, the more I wanted to honor others too. The more I took time to esteem others, the less room depression had in my life!

3. The Joy of the Lord

It is not by accident the whole world comes to the island of Jamaica. Yes, the beaches are beautiful, the sun is always shining, and the food is amazing.  However, there is something greater than the beaches in Jamaica and it is their local churches. The Jamaican church carries the Joy of the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us, “The Joy of the Lord is our strength”.

There is not a pill in the world that can cure depression better than the Joy of the Lord.  True joy is not based on circumstances.  If it were the Jamaican church wouldn’t be so full of joy.  They have real hardships and poverty is almost everywhere you look.  Yet the people are still singing and making melodies in their hearts.  They look past their circumstances and fix their eyes on the Lord.

I went on the mission trip thinking maybe I could bless them, but I left the mission trip realizing they are already blessed.  As my perspective changed, it seemed as though scales fell from my eyes. The fog lifted. My so-called problems weren’t really that big.  My joy returned to me and vigor once again filled my heart. With a renewed sense of purpose, I joyfully promised God that I would love people more.  From this day on I will serve and honor others and walk in the joy of the Lord. Thank you, Jamaica! You helped rejuvenate and restore me!

13 thoughts on “Jamaica and Jesus: How I overcame depression

  1. You made me cry! I never would have guessed that you were depressed! Sister if you ever need a shoulder I am always here. God bless you!!!! I am doing massage for hospice for free and it is so fulfilling! If I could do it for free all the time I would! I know that eventually God is going to show me how to make that a reality. I to was extremely depressed and of course prayer and reading the Bible helped but I needed more and I have had it on my heart since I was born to help others and when I started massage school it was on my heart to do free massage for disabled and hospice and nursing homes etc. People who are trapped in wheelchairs and bed ridden. Massage helps them and company helps even more. So MY plan was to start my own business, become successful enough to higher other therapist so that I could spend my time helping those people. Well needless to say I became very depressed and I felt Good say what are you waiting for… Do it now… That was HIS plan! And I get sad still but I also have joy overflowing when I get to do my hospice massage.
    Sorry for rambling and run on sentences… Lol!
    Thank you so much for sharing! Being vulnerable in your position is such a blessing to others… I can’t explain how but when you bare your soul it helps open others souls. Love you!!!

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    1. Angela you have a beautiful soul! Thank you for sharing! Keep chasing after God and your dreams. I need to get one of those healing massages soon😘😉

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  2. love your written word. I never stop learning, every trip. something beautiful when we set ourselves aside to focus on where God is already working.

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  3. This is amazing! God is so good so faithful to us… He finds us were we are ….always…. and sends us to Jamaica if need be!!! He’s so good I can’t even stand it sometimes! Oh Father thank you for the believers in Jamaica!! I send blessings on blessing on blessings to them for opening their lives, culture and true bible living into my dear friends life! (She is a blazing fire for you!) And give us all a glimpse into how to deal with low points in our lives through Pastor Joy’s experience!! Bestie! This is an amazing and uplifting blog! Thank you for sharping your life and the transparency you do it in!! Oh you are such a GIFT!! 💕💕💕

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  4. Joy oh sweet Joy, thank you for bringing that love God showed you in Jamaica back . God is and will do meraculous works in you and through you. When I say a true heart after Gods own heart would weep and leap for Joy when reading this , well that is what happened when I read this. I to seek to know this kind of love we are all called to serve in, this kind of worship that is a life style of pure , God in us. Please let us know when or if a team will be taking a journeying back there. We would be honored to join in this time.
    Thank you Lord Jesus for Joy Hester, one you call yours, one you are so very proud of. For her heart is full of love, pouring out and flowing over for others. Bless and keep her Lord, this I ask in humble adoration to you.

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    1. Thank you Theresa. You made my day with this! I will definitely let you know when we go back. Blessings!!!!

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  5. This is amazing momma!! Thank you for sharing. It is so amazing how God works all around the world. I love you!

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  6. Yes and amen for overcoming. Glad this trip refreshed you.

    We have alot to learn in America’s church today.

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