Jarrid Wilson’s wife says she will continue telling others about the hope found in Christ in light of his suicide.
Wilson, an associate pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in California and an author and speaker, committed suicide Monday night. He and his wife, Juli, co-founded Anthem of Hope, a non-profit that assists people suffering from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. He was a mental health advocate and spoke out about his battles with depression.
Juli posted tributes to him on Instagram, including a video of him playing with one of their sons Monday night, about four hours before he killed himself. He left behind two young children.
“I have to say that you being gone has completely ripped my heart out of my chest,” she wrote. “You loved me and our boys relentlessly and I am forever grateful that I had YOU as a husband and a father to our boys. You are my forever and I will continue to let other people know of the hope in Jesus you found and spoke so boldly about.”
But suicide, she wrote. “doesn’t get the last word.”
“I won’t let it,” she wrote. “You always said ‘Hope Gets the last word. Jesus gets the last word’. Your life’s work has led thousands to the feet of Jesus and your boldness to tell other[s] about your struggle with anxiety and 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.”
Greg Laurie, pastor of Wilson’s church, Harvest Christian Fellowship, tweeted out a picture of a smiling Wilson baptizing someone last Saturday.
“Look at the joy on both his and the young lady’s face that he baptized,” Laurie wrote. “This is how I remember him.”
This is Jarrid Wilson baptizing someone last Saturday. Look at the joy on both his and the young lady’s face that he baptized.— Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) September 11, 2019
This is how I remember him. pic.twitter.com/FaAyI83hCs
Author Jon Acuff said Wilson texted him last Thursday “about raising awareness” for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
“His heart was bursting to help other people with their hurt,” Acuff tweeted. “Last night he lost his own battle with depression. I’m so sad for him, his wife and his young kids.”
Last Thursday, my friend @JarridWilson texted me about raising awareness for #SuicidePrevention month. His heart was bursting to help other people with their hurt. Last night he lost his own battle with depression. I’m so sad for him, his wife and his young kids.— Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) September 11, 2019
Daniel Darling, an author and vice president for communications at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said Wilson had a major impact on others.
“Jarrid was a champion for the vulnerable,” Darling wrote. “Loved the gospel. And a relentless advocate pushing the church to take mental illness seriously.”
Absolutely grieved by the loss of my friend @JarridWilson. Pray for his wife and children. Jarrid was a champion for the vulnerable. Loved the gospel. And a relentless advocate pushing the church to take mental illness seriously.— Daniel Darling (@dandarling) September 10, 2019
Ed Stetzer, an author and Wheaton College professor, wrote that pastors often suffer “behind the curtain.”
“Sometimes, the structure of church itself creates and perpetuates that very curtain that keeps pastors from being in true relationships and getting the help they need,” Stetzer wrote on his Christianity Today blog. “... I sometimes get calls from pastors a thousand miles away who have nobody – it seems – to help them.”
There is a dangerous perception, Stetzer wrote, that “teaches that once we've been born again or are walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit,” the challenges of “depression, of psychological struggle, of spiritual difficulty, of mental illness, cease.”
“This is a lie. And when we believe this, we make dangerous assumptions,” Stetzer continued. “We believe pastors, having become helpers themselves, do not themselves need help. At the same time, pastors often feel that if they let on they are struggling that their churches will think less of them and their ministry may become less effective.”
Stetzer urged Christians to “continue what Jarrid began.”
“We, the church, must speak more clearly about the fact that pastors are imperfect behind the curtain (and that’s okay), that there are places and ministries where we can turn, and that we must ultimately overcome the misunderstanding that an authentic Christian life somehow frees one from depression, mental illness, and struggle,” Stetzer asserted.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up for Wilson’s wife and two children. Donate here.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Juli Wilson's Instagram
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.