Just over two months have passed since Jarrid Wilson took his own life, and Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, says he believes Wilson is in Heaven despite receiving heavy criticism from some Christians for his position.
“I have received angry messages from ‘well-meaning’ Christians who are upset because I’ve said Jarrid went to heaven after he died. One individual even commented to Jarrid’s wife, ‘We’re praying for you, but Jarrid is in hell!’” Laurie wrote of the California church's late associate pastor in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Nov. 27.
Hours before he took his own life at age 30, on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day in September, Wilson, who was a relentless suicide prevention advocate who struggled with depression, asked for prayers as he got ready to officiate the funeral of a Christian woman who had earlier taken her own life.
“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,” Wilson tweeted on the fateful day he took his life on Sept. 9.
Laurie, who said he had spent time processing the loss of Wilson, explained that even though he doesn’t believe “suicide is ever the right choice” Wilson’s suicide was not a spiritually fatal one.
“I know that while living, Jarrid made the right choice: He chose Jesus Christ as his savior. He trusted the promise of John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ Because of that, I believe Jarrid is in heaven right now,” Laurie wrote.
“The reality of this mental illness epidemic in our nation is something we cannot ignore. Unfortunately, it pains me to say that churches and Christians have not always done a good job at understanding it or ministering to people who are hurting and struggling. Some may wonder, ‘Why couldn’t Jarrid just snap out of this slump?’ Just because we cannot see depression, it doesn’t mean it’s not a physical illness. We wouldn’t ask the relative of a deceased cancer patient, ‘Why couldn’t he just snap out of his cancer?’” Laurie explained.
In a recent post on Instagram, Wilson’s widow, Juli, shared the last photo she took with her late husband which shows them together at their eldest son’s first baseball practice.
“I can’t lie, it has been so hard to walk on that field alone every Saturday morning. But here we are, we did it and Finchy loved every minute of it. I’ve been learning there’s so much beauty in just showing up. I don’t always feel like it, but that’s where discipline comes in — doing something tough now that will benefit us later,” Juli wrote.
“Keep looking up, showing up and reaching out. This isn’t the end of your story. God has so much more for you than you could ask or imagine. I truly believe the best really is yet to come,” she ended.
Wilson advocated for suicide prevention with Juli through an organization called Anthem of Hope which they founded in 2016.