Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward-Times
“For too long we have swept the problems of mental illness under the carpet… and hoped that they would go away.”―Richard J. Codey
“…of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…”—1 Chronicles 12:32
Forward Thinkers, I understand the times we live in, I understand what we must do, others may be satisfied doing church and entertaining people but I’m committed to being the church with a mission and vision of navigating people through these times of doubt and unbelief.
Forward Thinkers, have you noticed the alarming number of suicides in America over the past ten years? We can’t continue to ignore the fact we are not prepared as a nation to handle the large number of people in our society suffering with mental illness. Forward Thinkers, sadly not only are we unprepared but often our attitude appears to be uncaring toward those suffering with any form of mental illness.
Forward Thinkers, mental illness is no longer a laughing matter; it has become a deadly issue for people screaming for help. Pastors who spend their lives encouraging others fall into deep depression with no one or nowhere to turn to because, the face of mental illness has been rejected so long that suicide becomes their only option. Forward Thinkers, remember many great men in the Bible experienced periods of great depression. Being depressed does not disqualify you from being anointed.
Forward Thinkers, we are still taking mental illness as a joke when there is now a smart phone alert to keep you up to date on famous people who commit suicide.
Forward Thinkers, by the release of this weekly FORWARD THINKING article I’m sure you have heard about the suicide of actor comedian Robin Williams. Many are asking how can someone who makes so many people laugh suffer with deep rooted depression. Forward Thinkers, mental illness is not just for poor unsuccessful people. Forward Thinkers, I have noticed people suffering the most in the church from mental illness and have a great ability to cover it up with laughter and foolery. Forward Thinkers, the Bible says iron sharpens iron and we must as a people create a support system to strengthen one another and stop putting on another down.
Robin Williams, the versatile actor whose madcap comic style made him one of television and film’s biggest stars, was found dead on recently from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California. He was 63. Williams’ appeal stretched across generations and genres, from family fare as the voice of Disney’s blue Genie in “Aladdin” to his portrayal of a fatherly therapist in the 1997 drama “Good Will Hunting,” for which he earned his sole Oscar.
There are others:
● Marilyn Monroe—The actress who became the symbol glamour around the world was found dead at the age of 36 in her Los Angeles home early on the morning of Aug. 5, 1962. Like many famous celebrities, “overdose of pills” was claimed as the reason for her sudden death. It has been stated that Marilyn would write things like, “I think I’m going crazy, and I don’t want to live.” Monroe’s “acute barbiturate poisoning” was listed as a “probable suicide”.
● Lee Thompson Young–Hollywood lost another young talented actor to suicide. Lee Thompson Young, 29, starred as The Famous Jett Jackson from 1998 to 2001 on The Disney Channel and most recently played the role of Detective Barry Frost on TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles. Many friends and fans are having a hard time understanding how and why such a thing could happen to a person who was always smiling and positive, often giving advice and words of encouragement when others were down.
Forward Thinkers! I included the pictures of three famous people who committed suicide because I wanted to show you depression and mental illness has no race, gender, or classification. Robin Williams had a gift to make others laugh yet he cried in the dark. Marilyn Monroe stood out in a crowd yet feared being alone, and young Lee Young smiled in front of the camera while hiding behind a mask of sadness. Mental Illness can strike anyone at any time.
Forward Thinkers, let’s look at a story in the Bible about a man suffering with mental illness:
“When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, ?What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!’ For Jesus had said to him, ‘Come out of this man, you impure spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’ And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[a] how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”
Forward Thinkers, notice a man with a mental disorder meets Jesus. Forward Thinker the church don’t forget that mentally ill person while you are in hot pursuit of peace and prosperity. Forward Thinkers please note, Jesus did not have his security team turn the mentally ill man away.
Forward Thinkers, there was a time in the African American community we would make statements that blacks were too mentally strong to suffer with mental depression. I pray by now we realize that was a great thinking error proving once again that people perish for a lack of knowledge.
Forward Thinkers, remember last year Aaron Alexis a 34-year-old black man killed 12 people in a Washington, D.C., Naval yard. He was being treated for mental illness but was afraid to let those around him know of his struggles because he feared they would not accept him as a peer.
Forward Thinkers, the National Institution of Mental Health reports that 26.2 percent of people over the age of 18 suffer from some form of mental illness. Forward Thinkers, these numbers don’t lie in this case of mental illness.
Forward Thinkers, here are some facts I’ve discovered about people with mental illness:
● They are discriminated against and stigmatized;
● Hollywood and the News Media portray mostly negative images of them making people afraid to seek help.
Forward Thinkers, “getting help does not make you crazy, but getting help may stop you from going crazy.”
Forward Thinkers, in Mark Chapter 5 verses 3 through 5 we find a rich description of this man and most if not all of us can match a personal name to his personality disorders:
● Living In The Tombs being alive in a dead place? Schizophrenia–distorted reality, hear and see things that don’t exist
● Social Phobia—fear of common things or objects, most common mental illness
● Agoraphobia–fear of being around crowds and public places
Here is how his condition can be described in spiritual terms:
● Could Not Be Controlled (anymore). Forward Thinkers, when will we realize you can’t control an unclean spirit with physical weapons. When the church fails to be the church, the world takes control but that only produces a more violent unclean spirit.
● Chained Hand and Feet. Forward Thinkers, society’s answer is to drug people up and then control them. Forward Thinkers, we must not forget there is freedom in Christ. Yet medicine is needed but medicine is temporary. Forward Thinkers, think of medicine like a spare tire it has a purpose but it was never intended to become a permanent solution. Medicine should give balance not control you.
● He Would Cry Out Forward. Thinkers when people cry out and no one has an answer to help them, their cry becomes acting. Forward Thinkers, the problem grows because acting out turns to acts of violence against themselves and others.
● Cut Himself. Forward Thinkers, does acts of violence on self and others have real answers to heal the mentally ill? No but, Jesus does.
Then we get to verse 15 for the solution:
● In His Right Mind. Jesus still works, in the name of Jesus, through the blood of Jesus I declare that America will repent and turn back to Jesus and minister to those suffering from mental illness.
Pastor E. A. Deckard is the senior pastor/founder of the Green House International Church located, 16711 Ella Blvd. Houston, Texas, 77090. To contact Pastor Deckard for speaking engagements contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ghic.net.