On Monday night, on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day, megachurch pastor and founder of Anthem of Hope Jarrid Wilson took his own life.
Greg Laurie, the pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship and Jarrid’s pastor and friend, shared the devastating news to Facebook on Tuesday evening.
“At a time like this, there are just no words,” Laurie wrote. “The Bible says, ‘There is a time to mourn.’ This is certainly that time.”
It is with the deepest sadness and shock that I have to report that Jarrid Wilson went to be with the Lord last night….
“Jarrid loved the Lord and had a servant’s heart,” Laurie added. “He was vibrant, positive, and was always serving and helping others.”
Jarrid was not just a pastor but was widely known for his advocacy around mental health issues. Not only did he talk about mental health in regards to others, but he always kept an open dialogue surrounding his own personal battle with depression.
In a recent tweet to Twitter, Wilson reminded followers that “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.”
“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression,” he added. “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.”
Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.
Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression.
Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD.
Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety.
But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.
He ALWAYS does that.
— Jarrid Wilson (@JarridWilson) September 9, 2019
Wilson’s twitter feed is filled with posts about Suicide Prevention Day, encouraging his followers, and reminding them that their lives matter through the #yourlifematter hashtag he started.
Wilson, who was only thirty-years-old, left behind his wife Julie and their two sons, Finch and Denham.
On Tuesday night, Juli shared an emotional tribute in memory of her late husband, writing that Wilson was a “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious, give the shirt (off) his back husband.”
“No more pain, my jerry, no more struggle,” Juli wrote. “You are made complete and you are finally free. Suicide and depression fed you the worst lies, but you knew the truth of Jesus and I know you’re by his side right this very second.”
In her post, Juli reminded that “pastors are just people, and that “suicide doesn’t get the last word.”
“I won’t let it,” she wrote, adding that Jarrid’s mental health work led “thousands to the feet of Jesus” and his vulnerability with sharing his battle with depression “has helped so many other people feel like they weren’t alone.”
“YOU WERE an anthem of hope to everyone, baby, and I’ll do my best to continue your legacy of love until my last breath,” she wrote. “I need you, Jare, but you needed Jesus to hold you and I have to be okay with that.”
In 2016, Jarrid, along with his wife Juli, founded Anthem of Hope, an organization to help bring hope to those who are battling “brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction, and suicide.”
The homepage of Anthem of Hope currently states, “September is #SuicidePrevention month, and we want everyone to know that #YourLifeMatters!… We want everyone to know that God loves you, life matters, and you have a purpose in this world. Hope is here!”
These words are true, there is hope and there is a purpose for every single life.
So, what can we do?
As Juli pointed out in her Instagram post, “suicide and depression fed you the worst lies” adding “but you knew the truth of Jesus and I know you’re right by His side this very second.”
First, we can grieve with Juli, his family, his friends, and anyone else that he touched through his ministry. Second, we can help support his young family. Third, we can be aware of the mental health battles that are going on around us.
Check on your friends. Ask them if they are really okay when they give you a typical “I’m doing good,” and make sure to be there for them if they’re not.
It’s also important to remember that just because someone is in leadership, or in ministry, does not mean they are immune to the same evil lies that we are told day-in and day-out.
Romans 8:39 reminds us that, “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.” No matter what you have done, or what you have experienced, there is nothing that can separate us from the love and eternal salvation of God.
The love of God transcends all things, and that includes every mistake, every failure, and every sin that you have ever committed. God loves you beyond belief, and there is a special calling on your life.
Be praying for Juli, and everyone in this world that battles with depression on a daily basis. Be reminded that “hope is here” and that every single life matters.
Depression is a liar, and asking for help is not showing weakness, but bravery and strength.
If you or a loved one is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Christian Counselors Network is also a great resource if you are looking for someone to talk to and work with.