Do All Jamaicans Smoke Marijuana?

I remember a few months after I gave my life to Christ, I performed my first featured poem at an event called Cadence of Hair. I recited a poem entitled “Don’t Call Me A Rasta”. I spoke about my frustration with people who thought that just because I was Jamaican, wore dreads and was vegetarian at the time, that I was affiliated with the Rastafarian movement. Well, it was kind of my fault since prior to my conversion I was a novice participant of the group; solely because I loved smoking weed and I was a deep thinker and somewhat of a spiritual guru. So I was tired of it! And I was tired of people asking me if I still smoked weed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of marijuana. My dreads were almost down to my shoulders, I sometimes wore a red, green and gold knitted rasta belt, I had a pin designed jean jacket with the popular pin of the African continent on it, and a Gucci pouch tied to my pants waist filled with a lighter, rolling papers, grabba, and a bag of weed. This was who I was for 7 years straight, I like to call it my 7 year itch. Smoking weed was a huge part of my life and I didn’t go a day without lighting up a couple of spliffs with friends. My fingers knew no other scent that reggie bush, piff, or kush. My cologne was weed smoke and the smell followed me on my walks home at night. Getting high either enhanced or diminished my intimacy but I didn’t have enough resistance to carefully measure its effects to sex. I just needed it all the time! But after days and weeks and months and years of making the bush burn, smoking too much bush burned me.

So do all Jamaicans smoke weed? No, some of them, like myself wouldn’t dare going back to depending on a substance for daily maintenance. Don’t get me wrong, marijuana itself has many great health benefits that shouldn’t be ignored, but I’m concerned with those like myself who aren’t physically ill; yet use marijuana as a replacement item to filter out their own thoughts, casting a shadow over their reality, and drowning out their fears temporarily with THC pumping through their veins. I’m very concerned with people like that, not because I’m better than them, but because I was once just like them. And I know first hand that weed, while it is mostly categorized as a depressant or a stimulant, can also be a hallucinogen.

As believers, we’re fortunate to be able to connect with God through different circumstances, through wise counsel, through the words of the Bible, through dreams, our thoughts and through nature. But do we really need a substance to make us get closer to God? Some people do, and they end up making weed an idol. Some people who claim to be Christians fulfill Kendrick Lamar’s lyrics “smoking my kush reading Corinthians” (I know I did). But as a believer in God’s sovereignty, I do believe that God can definitely be heard through the cracks of the darkest corners, and even through drunken lips, even when the marijuana smoke clears I think we can hear him if he wills it. However, when God speaks, he wants to take us out of our lowly state and to bring us to a point of pure peace, where we wont need anything to stimulate us but his Spirit and Word. When we keep revisiting our fear with substance that change our character, we demonstrate our weakness and our absence from God and even our idolatry.

Overall, I think recreational marijuana usage from my experience and from most people I know is a coping mechanism to disengage from the world and to disengage from our problems and from people. I think Christians should exercise wisdom and discernment when considering smoking marijuana, or even drinking alcohol to some extent. It’s not for everything, and it shouldn’t be abused or depended on.

I cant help but think of these scriptures to help emphasize the need for self control purity…

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” – 1 Peter 4:7

HELPFUL VIDEO

Paul Nembhard

Caribberean

Saying “I Love You” to my Jamaican Father.

I recently had a conversation with one of my longtime friends who I haven’t spoken to or seen in a very long time. After speaking for a while about why we haven’t stayed in touch, I realized that our masculinity and our Jamaican culture played a huge part in our friendship. We both were too scared to tell each other we needed each other and missed each other. Me, being a young man who is blessed to have been mentored and loved by men who are Christ driven enough to openly say with their mouths that they love me, was quickly compelled to break the barrier between my friend and I. And so I explained to him the need for men to show affection to each other. “Because we need it”, and that beneath our tough exterior, way deep under our rugged ribs is a soft heart that needed manly love. I said “Jamaican men need to start saying the ‘L’ word without thinking it’s gay”. And at the end of the conversation, for the first time in our friendship, I said, “I love you bro!” and he said “I love you too bro!”

Now this wasn’t an easy conversation. It didn’t come easy to me and to be honest, my heart still skips a beat when I think about telling male members of my own family that I love them. But I remember Tony, my friend and someone who I consider to be a mentor; how he was the first man to say he loved me. He was the type of guy to randomly yell across the room to his son that he loved him. He didn’t care how often he said it or how other families looked at him, but he made sure that his son and the rest of his family knew that he loved them ALL THE TIME. And that’s how he made me feel. After every conversation, he wouldn’t walk away or hang up the phone without telling me he loved me. After a while I started questioning myself like how come I can’t say this to my own father, or my own brothers. I told Tony that I can’t remember hearing my dad say that he loved me, or if I ever said those words to him even. Tony quickly challenged me to START NOW! And so I planned it, and my dad came over my house one night and I waited. I waited until he was ready to go home so I wouldn’t have to bear his response. But I said it, right at the door as he stepped out into the hallway, “Daddy, mi love yuh” and he looked at me for a couples of seconds quietly and said “I love you too son” and we hugged. I was 27 years old. 

I started to remember times when I was living in Jamaica and my friends would ask me if I loved my dad and I would say “No, mi no love man!” as if it was gay to love my father. Our natural response as Jamaican boys was to say “Mi rate mi faada”. A less compassionate word than love is to “rate”, meaning to have high respect for someone. I think a myriad of men today are calloused by the lack of affection we were trained to display to other men. I think our culture and tradition to “burn fire” on all forms of homosexuality made us shun the idea of building healthy relationships with our fathers. Some of us will never know what it feels like to have a strong bond with another man, a bond that strengthens and connects heterosexual men with genuine love. Eventually my father and I, as well as my brothers; while we’re not throwing around the ‘L’ word all day, are now more open to say we love each other every once in a while and I think our relationship has grown tremendously because of it. We’re more open and honest, and can mend broken parts of our past and masculinty because we know that we love each other and isn’t afraid to say it. 

As a Christian, I can’t help but to peek into the lives of the biblical men of the times and see how they related to other men. Men like King David, the Apostle Paul, Peter, and even Jesus himself all had strong bonds with other men and were far from feminine or weak. For example, Jesus loved all his disciples but he especially loved John who most scholars believe to have been his best friend. Throughout the New Testament, the Apostle John is referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved. John 13:23 says “ One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side”, John 21:7 says “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’”. Jesus had a special bond with John and it was obvious to the others. Yet Jesus was more authoritative and manly than all of them put together. Even Paul and Timothy shared a loving relationship that propelled them into a ministry that brought the gospel across the world. King David, ruler and King who slew hundreds of men by sword, and had wives and concubines, had a deep relationship with his friend Jonathan. See what David says in 2 Samuel 1:26; “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” David knew what loyalty was, and he knew the importance of friendship among men that was in some sense stronger than the bond between women. David and Jonathan shared a real friendship that epitomized what love should look like among men. 

To conclude, I think a lot of us, including myself never realized that love is more than a feeling, or emotion. But that love is an action and a type of union that isn’t just seen between man and woman, but can be seen between children and parents, and even between friends. There are different forms of love, and when I say to my brother I love him, I don’t mean it the same way when I tell my wife I love her, or my children, or my mother. I think we should all recognize that and for the sake of our children, especially our boys, we should openly tell them we love them with our mouths. Love conquers all, let’s normalize that in our culture.

READ: 1 Corinthians 13 (The Love Chapter)

Paul Nembhard

Caribberean

But what is a Caribberean?

Hello reader. My name is Paul Nembhard, a Christian of 5 years. I was born and raised in Kingston Jamaica but have been living in New York City for about half my life. I’ve been married now for 4 years to a beautiful Ghanaian queen and we have two children together. I love to create poetry and music and I shoot photography and do graphic design from time to time. I’m a faithful follower of Christ, a reader, a thinker, and a budding Christian apologetic. With this new blog, I hope to make Caribbereans.

But what is a Caribberean? Simple, it’s a mix of two words; Caribbean and Berean. According to the Book of Acts Chapter 17 verse 11, Paul and Silas preached at Berea, and the inhabitants “… received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”, and many of them believed. So in essence, a Berean is known as one who studies, and reads for him or herself to see if God’s word matches up to what is being preached.

So my purpose for starting this blog is to create a community for a specific type of people, Caribbean Christians. The aim is to highlight our cultures art, music, poetry, and to challenge our faith with proper doctrine and biblical theology. I don’t know it all or claim to, but I know I have a passion to share the Word and I feel a strong need to invite people to join me on my journey to build up Bereans from the Caribbean. In the words of Jesus, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” So hopefully God will allow people to be transformed and encouraged and ministered to from this blog site.

Help me, help you.

Paul Nembhard

Caribberean