Matters of Faith
Beloved Jamaican Actress Camille Davis Comes to Christ!
Hailing from Ketto District in the parish of Westmoreland, beloved actress Camille Davis always had a heart for God. With a grandmother who was a pastor as her main parental figure, maybe she had no choice. “It was always church, school and home,” she told Family and Faith Magazine. The effervescent actress, who was nicknamed ‘Evangelist Davis’ as a child, was very active in church. “I use to sing for my church, go out to competitions and rallies, so from that age they saw that I loved God so they bestowed that name on me.” Camille also recalls having a ‘visitation from God’ as a child through a cherished dream and maintains that she has always been a praying person. Nevertheless, she had certain fears about fully surrendering to God.
The Prophetic Calls
The 31-year-old actress wanted to settle down in marriage and achieve certain career goals before being baptized and making the commitment to Christ. However for the past 3 years, the talented actress says God had been ‘calling’ her. A single mother of a little girl, Camille remembers going through difficult issues and pouring her heart out to God during that time. She says God started revealing Himself to her in new ways. “I remember telling myself that I wanted to get baptized, it never happened (then) but I knew God was calling me. The conviction was on my life. Every time I went to church I felt the conviction.”
She told Family and Faith Magazine that there were several instances of God sending various persons (strangers) to speak and prophesy into her life; urging her to surrender her life to His will. Questions she would ask in her heart to God, persons would address as they prophesied. “I could not stop the tears from following,” she says. “There is so much that God wants to do but He wants you to come first,” she remembers hearing. “These career moves. It’s gonna happen but you need Him closer to you. Because the covering that you need out there you can’t do it by yourself so He says come,” she continued.
The Last Call
In addition to those and other miraculous experiences, Camille remembers attending a prophetic conference that impacted her life. “The first night I went was unlike anything I had experienced before. I saw this young man completely outside of himself, serving God, prophesying and being happy and completely surrendering himself. It was such a blessing to see that,” she beamed. And then the climax was the on-point prophetic message she later received online from Pastor Ryan Mark of Pure In Heart Ministries International, speaking of God’s love and urging her to surrender now. “All you are hoping for can only be found in me,” she remembers Pastor Ryan saying, warning that it was the ‘last call.’ She later visited his church where he confirmed other prophetic words she had received.
In response, Camille stopped running and fearing the future and instead decided to let God continue to marvel her. She surrendered her heart to Christ and was baptized in March 2016 by Pastor Ryan.
The Spirit of God Assures You
A key part of Camille’s testimony is how the Lord transformed her self esteem. “I wasn’t very confident. I never thought I was ever beautiful. I had a really low self esteem and I am sharing this with you because I know a lot of people who see me see say ‘she pretty eeh’ I never saw myself as pretty. Actually when people tell me that I would think they are lying,” Camille confessed.
“I remember going through high school people would call me names. They would say – ‘ackee nose’ and I remember feeling very unwanted in a sense and never ever thought that I was ever attractive and anybody would ever consider me to be someone of value or worth.” However the actress, who has started giving motivational talks to young people, declares that it is good to know God: “When you come into the Spirit of God and you get to know Him and He assures you, you feel such love and such worth and such want.”
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The Smell of Suffering
By Family and Faith Magazine Writer, Anna Brown
Think of your favourite perfume or cologne.Your beloved fragrance is most likely the result of pressure (expression) or heating (distillation or steaming) to extract the oil or essence. Avoiding pressure and ‘hot situations’ is a human instinct, and certainly we should not seek trouble. But is there a lesson in the perfume bottle? God has been slowly uncorking the divine paradox of suffering for me. Here are a few things I have noticed, as I slowly inhale and come to terms with something that seems counter-intuitive.
The Foul Odor of Sin and the Sweet Aroma of the Offering
Suffering entered the world as a consequence of the failure of Adam to obey God’s instruction, to trust God’s declarations, to be thankful for God’s provision, to be content with God’s assignment, and to submit to God’s authority. With one bite, the foul odor of sin emanated from humanity. As sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, we have inherited the stain and the stink persists.
In Exodus however, a new smell was introduced. God gave instructions in chapters 26-30 for making a tabernacle where He would dwell with sinful humans. A special Altar of Burnt Offering was to be constructed according to God’s specifications and on it,each day, animals would pay the price for human sin. A sacrifice that followed these instructions would be,“an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord” (Leviticus 1:9). To the human nose, the stench of death would likely have permeated the Tabernacle. To a holy God, fulfillment of His requirements would ‘smell good’.
An Altar of Incense was also to be constructed according to God’s specifications, and on it, each day, a unique mix of fragrant incense was to be burned,and was to continue burning as long as the fire on the first altar was kindled. To the human nose, the aroma of the incense burned here would likely have covered the smell of death. To a holy God, fulfillment of His requirements would ‘smell good’.
Ephesians 5:2 describes Jesus’ giving Himself for us as “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”If the burning of special incense in the Old Testament was a pleasing scent to cover the smell of death, then the crucified Jesus is our burnt offering, a sweet-smelling aroma, and the resurrected Jesus is our fragrant incense, constantly burning in the Presence of Yahweh, making intercession for us (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). The foul odor of sin has been covered by the sweet, sacrificial aroma of the offering.
The stink of sin permeates our natural bodies, but Jesus Christ took on a natural body which was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, (Isaiah 53: 5) and this crushing released a sweet aroma. What does this tell us? Pressure and heat (suffering) are necessary for the release of sweet aromas in our lives. This uncomfortable truth can be inhaled more easily when we consider that the Master Perfumer has His plan.
Whether the consequence of our sin, of someone else’s sin, or a spiritual attack, no suffering comes to us without the express consent of God.Sufferings and blessings function “together for good”, for people “called according to His (God’s) purpose” (Romans 8:28). If God is in control of our season of suffering then, as Job asked, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10)
God promises in Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned…” As used here, “when” implies certainty, not condition. We WILL pass through waters, rivers, and fires. Suffering will come. There is a crushing necessary for the release of certain flavors and aromas.
The Special Ingredient
People suffered and died for thousands of years from Adam to Jesus, so why was Jesus’ suffering and death a fragrant offering (Ephesians 5:1)? Beyond the obvious point that Jesus was the Messiah, God in the flesh, perhaps the key lies in Jesus’ willingness to suffer.Philippians 2 connects His submission to His suffering, saying He“became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (verse 8b). That obedience and that death became both the stench of sin and the sweet aroma of obedience.“He humbled Himself (willing submission) and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him… to the glory of God the Father” (verses 8b, 9a, 11b).
Isaiah 53:10 makes it clear that, “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” Here is suffering that was not only the express consent of God, but the will, pleasure and plan of the Master Perfumer. God wanted Jesus to suffer!
What was Jesus’ response? “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,” (Hebrews 10:7 & 9) or“O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42, 44). Where Adam’s disobedience released the foul odor of death, Jesus’ obedience uncapped the sweet perfume of life. In direct contrast to Adam, Jesus chose to obey God’s instruction, to trust God’s declarations, to be thankful for God’s provision, to be content with God’s assignment, and to submit to God’s authority.
Hebrews 2:10 says of God, “it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, was made perfect through sufferings. His voluntary surrender to that crushing released a fragrant aroma. God exalted Jesus, and many sons are being brought to glory. Will we be brought to glory?
If we have been saved, we ought to follow the captain of our salvation and be willing to be made perfect through suffering. If the disciple is not above the teacher (Matthew 10:24), then the Master Perfumer’s plan for us includes suffering. How will our suffering smell? Will it reek of the stench of disobedience, distrust, ingratitude, discontent and rebellion? Will we grow bitter and complain as we suffer? Or will we add the special ingredient of willing submission? May our crushing give rise to sweet aromas, to the praise and glory of God.
(All scripture references are New King James Version)
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See articles from previous editions of Family and Faith Magazine below.
Coping With the Loss of a Child
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens:… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” – The Bible – Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
- “The human being can bounce back from deep emotional pain and regain a hopeful perspective”. – Khalil Gibran
- “Loss is forever but acute grief is not.” – Ruth Davis Konigsberg
In recent months Jamaica has experienced a spate of incidents where children and young people have been subject to brutal killings and tragic deaths by accident or fire. I would venture to say that most persons, if not the entire population, have experienced feelings of outrage, grief and sorrow on learning of these events. We may not have known those affected, their families or friends, but our common humanity has allowed us to share in their grief to one extent or another.
The following tips have helped many to cope with their loss and eventually return to near-former levels of functioning:
- Do not resist or avoid the feelings characteristic of the grieving process as described – rather allow yourself to feel the emotions, the pain and emptiness – to cry, to be sad, to be alone sometimes. Tears are like a release valve, releasing your deepest emotions, so have a good cry as often as you can. If necessary go off (with supportive loved ones who will give you your space) to open areas where you can scream and shout if you feel to do so.
- You may need a lot of ‘alone time’ – to think about your child, and the circumstances of your loss. During these times you may be looking over photos or going through personal belongings or their favourite things. This can be therapeutic, enabling you to work through your grief. Some even schedule such times (e.g. for half an hour or an hour) and then get back to other activities. However, your aim is to gradually reduce such times and begin to share activities (like reviewing photos) with others.
- As soon as you are able, talk about your loss. This is another release valve that allows you to “let your feelings out”. Share your deepest feelings about the tragic event as well as memories about your child with someone else, preferably someone who is a good listener. Tell your story as often as you need to.
- If you are in a situation where there is no one you would like to talk to, write down your thoughts and feelings about your child (including happy times) and the circumstances surrounding your loss. This could take the form of a poem or letter. You may also find some comfort in writing a letter to your child including things you did not get a chance to say.
- It is difficult to deal with the physical effects of grief such as insomnia, loss of appetite and lack of motivation to perform the simplest tasks like personal grooming. However, as far as possible take care of yourself physically. Force yourself to eat or have nutritionally enriched shakes/drinks. Your body is under stress and needs the nutrients. Try to avoid medication for insomnia unless it becomes a long term problem affecting your regular functioning. Opt for soothing teas (Chamomile) or milk before bedtime.
- Try to participate in rituals – for example, funerals, prayer meetings, and get involved in the planning of the programme or in the events surrounding the funeral, since it is likely that you will feel unable to actively participate in the funeral service itself. If you take no part in anything, you may later feel cheated or regretful that you did not make some contribution.
- If feelings of depression are prolonged or you cannot shake off urges to commit suicide, call or go to a doctor or the nearest health facility.
Although at this time you feel you will NEVER smile or laugh again, those who have taken this journey before you would offer encouragement in the words of the Hospice Foundation of America: “We can emerge from this journey and find a life with new satisfactions and joys while always keeping a connection (in our hearts) to the person we loved.”
In Sections of this feature the author has quoted, with permission, from an article on Grief published in Family Life Ministries’ 30th Anniversary Magazine (October 2014)
This article was written by Family and Faith Magazine contributor Kathleen Roberts, MA (Counselling Psych) Associate Counsellor, Family Life Ministries. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My Love is Blind – Lessons Learnt From Having a Blind Lover
By Family and Faith Magazine Writer, Indi Mclymont Lafayette
Why would you marry somebody who is blind? If I got a thousand dollars for the number of times I have been asked that question over the past 15 years with my husband, Patrick, I could retire comfortably now.
I usually say: ‘If you were somebody who was dynamic, honest, witty and intelligent – in short, a great person – and you were blind, wouldn’t you want someone to marry you?’ They usually respond, ‘Yes,’ and depending on my mood, I say, ‘Argument done…’ or sometimes explain a bit more. Truth is, even my husband asked me a similar question when we were putting all the cards on the table before getting married.
‘Are you sure you want to marry someone who is blind? It will mean that there are some things that you will have to do all the time – like picking up the children and always driving. So you have to be sure you can manage that,’ he said.
I thought about it for a while and it seemed logical to me that I would want someone to love me enough to commit to me – strength, weaknesses and all. So if I were blind, I would not want someone to say, ‘I love you but I can’t marry you because you are blind.’ What kind of love is that?
So I said yes, and two children later, I still have no regrets.
Another question or perception I have to deal with is ‘Poor you – having to take care of him all the time.’
That one normally makes me smile at the irony – because people who know us well know that Patrick is the one who takes care of me and the kids – always a willing trooper when it comes to housework, always anticipating things I may need in my professional life and helping me to structure myself so I can juggle my many roles. In short, the most supportive partner I could wish for.
I can tell many stories of him helping me to broaden my culinary skills (my close friends know that cooking is not my favourite pastime) or encouraging me to stick it out when my master’s degree dragged on for almost 6 years, or rescuing me from thieves when they attempted to rob me as I was coming home from work late one night.
Not to mention attending every doctor’s appointment and every Lamaze class when I was pregnant and being there while I was giving birth. He likes to tell the story that when the labour pains hit me while having our daughter, I grabbed his ear instead of his hand. As my hold intensified, he started silently praying, ‘Lord, mi blind already. Nuh badda mek she deaf mi tuh!’
He is quite a character – both on air and off – he keeps me on my toes. He also drags me screaming to stay on the cutting edge of technology. He is a whiz on the computer and mobile phone, thanks to technology such as Job Access with Speech (JAWS) and VoiceOver on his iPhone which he uses to navigate. He is always ahead of the technology curve for many sighted and blind persons.
We are happy, but there are sometimes societal blocks that can be discouraging. I remember a cousin of mine who, on hearing that my husband-to-be was blind, gave me a scathing tongue-lashing about what an idiot I was.
‘Look how you pretty. Yuh bright – yuh family spend plenty money fi yuh go university and yuh could do much better – yuh could a get a rich man and yuh gone marry a blind man. Yuh mussi a di biggest fool mi know,’ she said. The words hurt, but I did not argue with her as I knew only time would teach her what I already knew – that I was embarking on something that would work. Now she is his biggest fan and never fails to ask me for him whenever she sees me. I shake my head at the irony.
Another family member told another relative that she would give it a few years for me to ‘come to my senses.’ I guess she is still waiting.
At least we are blessed to be together. A few years back we counselled a lady whose pastor refused to marry her because her fiancé was blind. Her family also threatened to disown her if she married him. She was distraught and struggling, and in the end, broke off the relationship because the obstacles against her were too many.
Jamaican society still has barriers to relationships between ‘mixed’ couples.
Some lessons I have learnt loving a blind person:
- Thinking for two and never one – if you are going to have a meal, check if the other person has eaten. I walk for the two of us and not for one.
- Using words to bring things alive – as a writer, I love words and the challenge of bringing things to life so Patrick can ‘see’ it.
- Thinking outside the box – Patrick usually refuses to be constrained by his blindness. He is always willing to try things out and see what he can and cannot do regardless of being blind. He does not use his blindness as an excuse not to do things. This has inspired me to not give up so easily when I encounter obstacles – sometimes persistence and looking at the problem from another angle can get you past that challenge.
- Being loved for my personality and not for my appearance – that is a refreshing thing for a woman.
- Conquering my fears – Since Patrick can’t see the bugs and insects that come into the house, I have become ‘the Rodent Killer’ in the house. I am no longer scared of lizards etc. I now grab broom, book or whatever is available and fearlessly move in for the kill.
- Praying – The family that prays together stays together – we try to have regular devotions as a couple and it really helps us to deal with the stresses of life.
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