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 as well as the inspiration behind the GRG Intimate Seclusion Retreats. Throughout the 90’s she also ran a highly successful Catering business under the name of “Jems Caterers” of which many can testify her hands are blessed!
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 amazing cakes set her apart from the rest. This has led to opportunities to make cakes for various British actors, the interior designer Kelly Hoppen, as well as the BBC and10 time Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin.
Jemma has been involved in numerous charity project which ranges from building houses in the Townships of South Africa and rural Kenya, to climbing Mount Toubkal to raise money for children in need. In the last two years, she has begun her own community project using her chef experience to provide luxury fully loaded homecooked hampers for families and individuals in need over the Christmas period suffering from mental health and other life challenges issues. Her plans are to turn this into a registered charity thus enabling her 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, suicidal tendencies, which resulted in three suicide attempts, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence for 35 years, whilst 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. I worked to gain their approval, and their love and approval was what I lived for. 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 see anything wrong with my childhood until I started writing my second book – A Precious Stone. It was there I became privy to the major insecurities I developed through a string of incidents that went on to produce strongholds which would 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 my depression as I struggled to understand myself and be understood by others. 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 I lost my mother. Even now it is still hard to believe she has gone. When people ask about my mum, I say she died, but they are just words. It’s on days when I sit and think about her that the penny drops and I realise mummy is dead! Mummy’s death left me vulnerable and exposed to a world I was not ready to meet. And when that world met my insecurities I became scared, lonely and 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, the lack of what I now know to be intimacy with God had also been a root that contributed to my depression. I became a Christian because I wanted to and according to the bible and the preachers, that was supposed to save me and offer me a life of joy and abundance. But as a Christain, I was lonely and depressed, why? 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 in me what another saw? Who was God? Where was God and why wasn’t He comong 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?
At the end of the day, 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 Him and feel Him. I wanted to know without a doubt in my mind that God was real because I had tasted and I knew that He was real. If the Bible I read was full of God speaking and revealing Himself to people, then 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 and my book chronicles this and as well as real-life issues many of us encounter that are never openly 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… depression and mental health. My testimony is one of “hope” to the hopeless, oppressed, depressed and even suicidal.”
Jemma’s first book, God’s Romantic Getaway is a personal account of her lifelong battle with manic depression as a born-again Christian and her deliverance through a soul-wrenching search for intimacy with God. It 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 ACTN Cloud Nine TV in San Fernando Trinidad.
Jemma is currently working on her second book, ‘A Precious Stone’ and musical CD to accompany God’s Romantic Getaway as well as the audio version. Today, she travels, sharing her testimony, inspiring and teaching others how to overcome a lifetime of emotionally damaged emotions and experience true healing and lifestyle changes through the truth of a renewed mindset, working with professionals and Intimacy with God. Her life is a testimony of hope.