Jemma Regis is a successful entrepreneur. She is a published author, a qualified chef with over 27 years’ experience, the founder and Managing Director of the bespoke cake company Jemz Cake Box and God’s chosen vessel and inspiration behind the GRG Experience Away Days and 7 Day Retreats.
As a chef, she has cooked for the likes of Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister, singer-songwriter, author and political activist Sir Bob Geldof, American Gospel music singer and songwriter Marvin Sapp. Multiple Grammy, Dove and Stella award-winning, performer, producer and songwriter Fred Hammond, to name a few. As a cake artist, her attention to detail and mouthwatering cakes set her apart from the rest, leading to opportunities to make cakes for various British actors, the interior designer Kelly Hoppen, the BBC and 10 time Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin.
Her charity work has ennabled her to work with Habitat for Humanity building houses in the Townships of South Africa and rural Kenya. Not stoping there she climbed Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas mountains raising momey for children in need. She has since set up her community project providing tailormade food hampers for families and individuals affected by mental health and other challenging factors throughout the Christmas season. Her plans are to do more for this worthy cause not just at Christmas but also throughout the year.
Having read such an inspiring introduction, it is hard to believe that this young Christian woman suffered from depression and suicidal tendencies, which resulted in three suicide attempts, for 35 years, all the while portraying to the world a profile of an accomplished, successful businesswoman.
Jemma, known to many as Jemz, was born in the late 60’s into a typical strict Caribbean family. The second of seven children, she recalls much of her childhood as one steeped with great responsibility.
“From the age of five life revolved around work and chores, and I saw nothing wrong with it. The completion of chores to the highest degree was a perfect medium for securing my parent’s love as I worked to gain their approval. My mother brought my older sister and I up to be ladies, who could cook, clean and look after the house. It was important that should anything happen to her we would know how to fend for ourselves. Her ways were strict but in many ways highly beneficial.”
Jemma recalls her early years as being somewhat lonely and fearful
“I didn’t reralise I had a truamtic childhood until I started writing my second book – A Precious Stone. It was there I saw the many insecurities I had developed through reocuring incidents that produced strongholds which lay dormant until my later years. The surfacing of these strongholds, such as low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, timidity, fear and paranoia triggered and fulled my depression and inabilty to understand myself and be understood. The struggle to see myself as others saw me soon developed into self-hatred, and I learnt to hide behind a very lonely and painful mask”
Although she was baptised at the age of thirteen, her genuine search for a personal relationship with God began aged seventeen after the premature death of her mother.
“I had never experienced such intense pain until we lsot mummy. Accepting her passing was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Mummy’s death left me vulnerable and exposed to a world I wasn’t ready to enter, and when that world met my insecurities I became a prisoner of my fears. In desperation, I turned to God, but never truly understood what it meant to surrender entirely to Him and so I was never truly fulfilled. My desire to be totally satisfied by and in God created a thirst and hunger that soon became an obsession, something I was not prepared to live without.”
Faced with many obstacles, challenges and distractions Jemma’s search for ‘more than just church’ became a lifelong goal. Though she spent most of her years in church, she has had a fair number of encounters with what some Christians refer to as ‘the world,’
“From as far back as I can remember God had always been a part of my life. As a young child, we were brought up to fear and honour God. It was something that never left me. Even when I went through my rebellious stage, God was always in my thoughts. Growing up church was great, it was the place where I got to hang out with like-minded friends, sing in the choir, even catch up on the latest gossip. But something was always missing. At the time, I would have argued of course I have a relationship with God. But honestly, I didn’t really. In my mind, the relationship was thus – I spoke; God listened and granted the desires of my heart, the end.”
Having wandered from God’s paths on many occasions, Jemma admits her desire for more of ‘Him’ has always been rooted deep within, but one that came with added pressure
“As well as my mental health issues, what I now know to have been lack of intimacy with God had also contributed to my depression. I became a Christian because I wanted a relationship with God. According to the bible God spoke and interatced with His children, I wanted that. According to the the preachers, I was supposed to have access to a life of joy and abundance. But I was lonely, depressed and struggled to recgonise God’s voice.”
“Why was I depressed? Why wasn’t the name it claim prayers and declarations working? Why couldn’t I break free from the bondage of depression? Why couldn’t I see what others saw in me? Who was God? Where was God and why wasn’t He coming to my rescue? If praying, crying and reaching out to God over and over and over again was not enough, then what was? If lying in bed desperate, scared, emotional and lonely was not enough to get God’s attention, then what was? What did I have to do for God to realise I had come to the end of my tether and needed His help?”
“All I have ever wanted was to be free from depression and my emotional bondage and experience a real, tangible, intimate relationship with God. I wanted to call and have Him answer. I wanted to sense His presence and feel Him. I wanted to know without a doubt in my mind that God was real because I had tasted and enbraced Him for myself.”
“The Bible I read was full of God speaking and revealing Himself to people and I wanted Him to do the same for me. After all, He had not changed, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. My search for freedom and such intimacy with God has seen many highs and lows, many expressed in my book as well as real-life issues that are rarely addressed, especially in the church, the same issues that are claiming the lives of young, old, successful, unsuccessful, ministers, leaders and everyday people like me and you today – depression. My testimony is one of “hope” to the hopeless, oppressed, depressed and even suicidal.”
In her first book, God’s Romantic Getaway Jemma’s personal account of her 35 year battle with depression as a born-again Christian and deliverance through a soul-wrenching search for intimacy with God earned her a nomination for a ‘Wise Woman Award 2014‘ in the ‘Life Turnaround’ category. Her book has also featured in Keep the Faith and Christianity Today magazines as well as Revealation TV and ACTN Cloud Nine TV in Trinidad.
Jemma is currently working on her second book, ‘A Precious Stone’ and music to accompany God’s Romantic Getaway as well as the audio version. Today, she travels, sharing her testimony, inspiring and teaching others on how to overcome a lifetime of emotionally damaged emotions and experience true healing and lifestyle changes and the pursuit of spiritual intimacy with God. Her life is a testimony of hope.